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The Park City Council Tells Staff To Combine The Treasure Hill And Armstrong Properties In the Bond

Park City staff presented council with their bond resolution recommendation for the purchase of Treasure Hill and an easement for the SNOW Ranch Pastures at Thursday’s meeting. The public showed up to give their input about it. Melissa Allison has more:

The city council voted 4 to 1 to combine the two properties for a $48 million general obligation bond. One for $45 million to purchase Treasure Hill, the other for $3 million to help secure the conservation easement for the Armstrong Property in Thaynes Canyons.

The general obligation bond to purchase the Treasure Hill property was originally close to $54 million. But after the public and council asked Budget Manager Nate Rockwood to go over the city’s budget and finances with a fine-tooth comb, he’s been able to get the amount down to $48 million.

Several capital projects were cancelled or delayed, to lower the bond and the city also sold off a parcel of land to the Park City Fire District – dropping the bond amount by another million dollars.

Assistant City Manager Matt Dias said, $48 million is a reasonable amount and combining the two properties in one bond is a good move.

“We think it’s financially a stronger position,” Dias said. “It gives us more flexibility and we do feel that, in the event for some reason the Armstrong property was unavailable, it fell out of contract or something to that extent, we may be able to lessen the impact to the taxpayers.”

“If we were a private corporation,” Dias said. “We would have this discussion in private and we would clearly go with the combination but we’re a public entity, nonprofit, so we have this discussion in a public session. And it can appear a little complicated but with the $48 million general obligation bond we’re very confident that we can pursue both properties for preservation.”

Should the easement for the Armstrong property no longer be on the table, the $3 million set aside for it would automatically go toward lowering the Treasure bond to $45 million. But Dias said they don’t anticipate anything happening with the easement and things should go as planned.

When council asked for public input, Dolly Makoff told council the Armstrong property has been her backyard for 25 years. She admitted she was emotionally attached to the idea of preserving it as open space. But before she did anything, she wanted to make sure council was of the same mind.

“I feel that I helped bring this community, in the beginning to the wonderful thing that it is now,” Makoff said. “And this council meeting is quite different than the one that I went to. The folding chairs were moving around, the lady in front of us had a pint in the back of her stretch jeans. So, I would like to tell you that I’m committed to the things that you’ve done to preserve all of this.”

Sam Graham said he was a summer resident. He became a bit emotional as he asked council to do what they could to preserve the open space.

“This is a unique opportunity to save this part of your community,” Graham said. “I really encourage you to find a way to do the Armstrong Ranch. I want to see you do Treasure Hill. I’m not as concerned about what it does to our taxes as what it preserves for us in the future. And I just thank you all, very much, for working so hard on this project.”

Suzanne Engelhardt told council that to allow developers to exploit the land would be a huge mistake.

“For our development of our future of everyone, to let a simple, small piece of property go to the wayside and let developers, or someone else, come in and increase the intensity of, just activity in that area, is severely a mistake for us,” Engelhardt said. “And I think for our kids, our future and when we’re long gone, we can just be happy that we have that beautiful piece of property.”

“I golf on the golf league,” Engelhardt said. “Every time we come across hole five, everyone just says, ‘Ah, look at that. Its amazing. That beautiful barn, the pasture.’ And it just doesn’t seem like its something that we should just put aside and say, “It’s not necessary.’”

James Ingram told council he and his wife were in favor of combining the properties in the bond.

“My wife and I finally realized our dream to purchase a home here 11 years ago,” Ingram said. “And, we’re not full-time residents, we’re not eligible to vote but we certainly pay taxes here. Thank you for your work - you’re my representative here, I would ask you to do whatever it takes to get this done. Combine it, wrap it up and preserve this iconic piece of Armstrong property.”

Former Planning Commission Chair Adam Strachan told council that combining the properties is appealing because it is more inclusive for the Thaynes community. More importantly - he says it’s a matter of credibility.

“I think that if we’re gonna say to these voters, ‘This is the last big one,’ and then it’s not, we look bad, we look like we’ve lost some credibility,” Strachan said. “And so, if it’s going to be the last big one, lets make it the last big one. And Armstrong and Treasure are the last two big remaining pieces that we need to get.”

“I think the honesty comes through if we say it’s the last one, and then it in fact is,” Strachan said. “There will be some smaller ones here and there but this one is the whopper, so let’s get it right and get it done.”

Council Member Lynn Ware Peek was the sole vote against combining the bond, wanting to keep it as simple as possible – something she said the community had instructed.

Staff will return on the 16th with the final bond resolution.

I’m Melissa Allison, KPCW News.

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