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Museum Director Comments On Saving Old Flagstaff Mine Buildings

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Some 20 years after the approval of the Flagstaff Development, the Park City Council is trying to figure out how to preserve and restore  the historic mine buildings there—which was promised in Flagstaff’s approval.

KPCW talked to Sandra Morrison, Park City Museum Director, who’s one of the historic activists trying to work with the City and the developers to get to a solution.

When the Flagstaff Development Agreement and Annexation was approved about 20 years ago, it required the preservation of several historic mine buildings.

Sandra Morrison told KPCW that at the time, several of the buildings were in good shape.    But in the past 20 years, they’ve been neglected.

The City Council held a study session about them last week.

Morrison, who attended the meeting, said one major priority for them is the Judge Mine and Smelting Building.

“The developer promised a full restoration, and turning it into an office building.  And that was a wonderful promise on their part.  I mean, I think we’d all love to go inside.  This is the concrete building when you walk up Daly Avenue, continue up, and it says right there, “Judge Mining and Smelting  1920”, as Becca Gerber mentioned.   It’s the 100-year anniversary of this building next year.   And the original report from 2001 also mentioned that the roof was leaking.  Well, of course now 20 years later, it’s a massive hole.  All kinds of interior damage, structural failure in the roof.”

She said an old building at Park City Mountain Resort last year was destroyed due to a collapsed roof.

Morrison said since the original approval, Flagstaff has become known as Empire Pass and there are three or four development companies in the area.

She said if the city could reach an agreement to have each company put in about $100,000, that would be enough to restore the Judge Building.

“And I think finding a use for that building would be fairly easy.   There’s this really ugly trailer that’s been sitting there for 20 years.  So instead of having an ugly trailer next to a beautiful historic building, we could move the people in the trailer into the building.  And the other piece is if you have somebody using that building, then we won’t see as much graffiti.   And our volunteers have spent many efforts removing graffiti off that building, and y’know the metal building that’s up there, the wooden house.   They’re all just rapidly decaying, because of the lack of attention and the lack of 20 years of maintenance.”

Another source of funding is the Real Estate Transfer Fee set up in the original Flagstaff approval.    The document specifically provides the money can be allocated for the structures, though the fund is ostensibly for “protected open space.”

“These buildings are eligible for that funding mechanism.  And in fact it’s specifically identified.   It says in the agreement that half of the one percent transfer fee to the Master Owners Association for their obligations created by this annexation agreement.  And the other half goes to the city for open space preservation—meaning, these vertical open-space structures.”

She said over the years the city has collected about $9.5 million from the transfer fee.    City officials said they have about $1.6 million on hand at this point.

“The Mayor did mention that it might be allocated.  But again, City Council has the opportunity to go back and look at the allocations and maybe say, “Okay this is the time.  If we don’t save these mining structures today, what’s gonna be left?”  We’re lucky that we have as much as we do still standing after 20 years of neglect.”

Park City Museum Director Sandra Morrison.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covers Summit County meetings and issues. KPCW snagged him from The Park Record in the '80s, and he's been on air and covering the entire county ever since. He produces the Week In Review podcast, as well a heads the Friday Film Review team.
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