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Park City

Arts and culture district returns to Park City Council Thursday

Park City Municipal
The proposed arts and culture district.

After being put on ice last fall, the arts and culture district comes back to the Park City Council this week.

The proposed arts and culture district on Bonanza Drive was originally presented with an all-in price tag of around $70 million in 2020. That ballooned to over $105 million by early 2021 due to increases in construction costs. Concerns over the project's budget and turnover on the city council after November’s election eventually shelved the project.

The proposal is set to return to a work session on Thursday. Deputy City Manager David Everitt said the conversation will include the district’s two anchor tenants, the Sundance Institute and Kimball Arts Center, both of which have committed to building new headquarters at the site.

Originally billed as a place for local creators to live and work, Everitt said Thursday will be a good opportunity to get those groups on the same page as the city.

“Whether that’s about allocating funding for additional work to be done, if we’re looking at revising the existing site plans and master plans, I think it’s just a really good chance for the three organizations to talk with each other in that public setting," Everitt said. "I don’t want to put words in the council’s mouth necessarily, but I certainly think they’re very interested in having that discussion and identifying what the city’s commitment is moving forward.”

Also on Thursday’s agenda is a work session to discuss the possibility of creating a housing authority separate from the council.

Right now, the council acts as the city’s housing authority. When taking up housing authority business, councilors literally spin their chairs in a circle and declare that they’ve reconvened as the housing authority.

During the meeting, councilors will discuss whether creating an authority free of elected officials could effectively de-politicize the work it does. According to a staff report, that’s the model many similar mountain west communities use.

Everitt said city staff will also be looking for a list of housing priorities the council wants them to focus on for the rest of the year.

“Should we as a city be continuing to focus on building and selling back to residents at a subsidy?" he said. "Should it be about massively increasing the amount of affordable rental units available? Should it be a buy-down program? I think there’s a ton of different things the city staff could be doing, but there’s only so many staff, so we really just need some prioritization from the council on how to move forward.”  

Later on the agenda, the council will also consider approving a number of water-related projects, totaling over $6 million dollars.

Those range from $132,000 to develop a new water master plan, to $4.5 million for phase 2 of the Spiro Mine reconstruction project.

City Utilities Director Clint McAffee said although the price tags for water projects are big, they are fully funded through water service fees and stormwater fees.

“This absolutely is planned," said McAffee. "Running a water system is very expensive, so we plan for these projects, we spread them out, we try and time them to minimize public impacts, fit them in the financial model, so we’re comfortable with the community’s ability to pay for these improvements.”  

He said annual price increases to water rates are on an inflationary track.

Also on the agenda are changes to the city’s land management code for the sport of pickleball. The council will consider changing the code to account for the sport’s unique noise levels and booming popularity.

Thursday’s meeting starts at 2:45pm. The full agenda and details on how to participate can be found here.