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Tuesday's Aprés With Council Was Small On Numbers But Big On Questions

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Melissa Allison
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Although there was a small turnout for Tuesday’s Aprés With Council, there wasn’t a shortage of questions. Melissa Allison was there and has this report:

Park city Mayor Andy Beerman and Council Member Becca Gerber met with the community to answer questions about transit, Treasure Hill and tax increases.

As a new public transit bus rider, Beverly Harrison is passionate about getting other members of the community to jump on board and she asked what could be done, at a leadership level, to incentivize more members of the community to use public transportation?

There are three groups of people the city considers when looking at public transit issues and needs. They are tourists, employees and then locals.

Initially, public transit was set up with the tourists in mind since it is paid mostly with the dollars they spend in Park City. Within the first few years council realized they needed to get employees and locals using the buses as well.

Beerman said, when it comes to the employees, they need to make it more convenient.

“There’s not great park-n-ride or great routes and we’re in the middle of doing that," Beerman said. "Our electric express which we launched last year, running those buses every ten minutes from Kimball Junction into town that get in as fast and sometimes faster than a regular car, that’s a big step towards it. Now we’re building park-n-rides out at Kimball to make that a reality and make it more convenient.”

He said they’re doing the same thing on SR-248. The city is conducting a study with UDOT that Beerman expected will come back with some form of  a recommendation for dedicated bus lanes and park-n-rides in that area.

One man asked about the flood plain in Old Town. Right now there are sections of on Swede Alley and Park Ave. that are listed as being in a flood plain. He wanted to know if the city is doing anything to change it.

Beerman assured him the city has made FEMA aware of the many changes the city has made to reverse their determination.

“I think this was based on a flood back in the 70’s, it just took a wide swath and said this was all flood plain," Beerman said. "Since then we’ve rerouted creeks, we put in a storm drain system, we’ve made many changes that no longer expose us so we have asked them to adjust that. I believe they came back to us recently with their preliminary draft of, ‘Here are areas that we want to shift this around to get feedback.’ I think we gave them some feedback, or we’re working on feedback.”

One woman asked for an update on Treasure Hill.

Beerman gave a brief history about the development that dates back 30 years and received nothing but pushback from the community.

In January the owners offered the city an opportunity they thought would never come, a 100 percent buydown of density for $64 million.

To purchase the land, the city could get a general obligation bond that would be retired in 15 years. Council decided to put it on the November ballot and let the community decide.

To make that number a little easier for the residents to swallow, the city cut some projects starting with the Brew Pub Plaza and then put off some road maintenance.

Beerman agreed, its lot of money. But on the flipside, the impacts are huge.

"So we got the bond down to about $50 million and this community will get to vote in November," Beerman said. "If we purchaseit, it will be 100 percent open space and recreation forever, that’s our agreement with the city. If we don’t purchase it, then we take the $6 million we put down on it, that will buy the project down by 10 percent, it goes back into an expedited planning commission process and something very big will get built.”

Gerber explained how the bond would impact year-round residents.

“Based on a house that is closed to $800 thousand, for a primary resident it will be about $200 dollars a year additional on your property taxes," Gerber said. "Its $55 million, for 15 years. And then we can throw this in there, that we have bonds falling off in the next five to 10 years, so we’re actually in a really good position to, to absorb this.”

Carol Murphy asked if the city has done everything they could to lower the price tag of the bond.

Beerman told her, they cancelled $14 million worth of projects already, but Murphy suggested they keep looking.

Murphy told KPCW, “It’s a simple question.”

“I’m satisfied with their process of looking for it," Murphy said. "I don’t know, honestly, enough about the ins and outs of capital budgeting to know if there are those projects or not. But, there always are. "It’s just a matter of whether or not you have the will to do it.”

Shirin Spangenberg said Beerman and Gerbers answers changed her mind about the Treasure Hill bond.

"What I was most happy about was they brought up perspectives that I haven’t heard of," Spangenberg said. "Like, I didn’t realize some of the bonds were actually going away. I love that because then, is it really $200 dollars? Are we going to really notice that? Am I going to have to take away my latte every day, you know what I mean? And then also, you know if we take away too much more, if we reduce the bond too much more, then what services are we getting rid of? Are we going to hurt ourselves in other ways? I gotta tell you, $200 dollars a year, to keep an entire mountain – that’s a bargain.”

Other items addressed were about the sales tax increase the county is implementing along with the Arts and Cultural District and whether the city has found a place for Anya’s. The short answer – they haven’t.

The next City Council meeting takes place on Thursday at 6 p.m.

I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.