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Midway Preserves Agricultural Open Spaces

Midway Kem C. Gardner Legacy Preservation

Utah Open Lands and Midway City are working on two open space preservation initiatives that will forever protect agricultural lands in the Heber Valley.

The Midway City Council approved the designation of the Kem C. Gardner Legacy Preserve. The resolution was adopted in a unanimous vote and will preserve the 43-acre agricultural lands located at 1300 South on the east side of State Highway 113. Midway Mayor Celeste Johnson says it is a gift by Mr. Kem Gardner.

“It’s about 40, just over 40 acres along our south corridor in Midway. It's a long narrow strip of land and it will absolutely be a gift for us because in perpetuity this property will never be developed. So, this wide- open beautiful space will continue as agricultural land the nice thing as well, is that Kem is very excited about putting trails and things kind of around the agricultural area. So, people can enjoy it. We're looking at potentially having a trailhead there. It's just a lovely gift and it cost Midway nothing.  How many cities say someone gave them 43 acres? It's pretty exciting.”

They’ll finalize the agricultural easement before the end of the year. Johnson says the open space preservation efforts are paying off with another Kem C. Gardner land preservation project on the west side of Midway’s Main Street.

“But wait. There’s more. He has another parcel about 36 acres on the west end of our Main Street that he has also committed to give to Midway. And that parcel we should be finalizing next spring.”

The City Council also committed $1 million of open space bond funding to preserve the Kohler Family Farm, which is valued at nearly $10 million.

“The conservation easement is worth nearly $10,000,000 and the Kohler family is saying, you know what, when we started out, we were willing to take $7 million. We’re still willing to do that so they’re literally contributing about $3 million to this. And then Midway City is contributing a million. The county is contributing. The Lee Ray McAlister Foundation, the federal farm grants, all of those things are coming into play to keep this a Dairy in perpetuity.”

Johnson says the Dairy is in Wasatch County on the border of Midway City limits. It’s also another entry corridor to the city.

“So, there is some discussion about potentially annexing this into Midway, if that's going to be possible. The landowner is willing. Of course, we're willing and that would give Midway the opportunity to make sure that development around it doesn't occur. So, we will work out those details later, but we have committed the $1million plus if there's a shortfall, we will make that up if we need to.”

Utah Open Lands Executive Director Wendy Fisher is working to meet a deadline to raise a final $200,000 by mid-January. Johnson explains.

“If we don’t raise that money and close on this by mid-January, those funding sources go away. So, she’s working very hard on that. I hope that folks are listening who would be interested in reaching out to Utah Open Lands and making it a donation. She does have some matching funds available, so we believe that it is going to be easy to achieve.”

A link to Utah Open Lands can be found on here.

KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.
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