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Park City considers moving Bonanza Park power lines to increase development area

Parker Malatesta
The Rocky Mountain Power substation next to Park City's Engine House affordable housing project, which is under construction along Homestake Road.

Park City and Rocky Mountain Power are devising a plan to underground power lines in the Bonanza Park district.

The existing above-ground transmission lines run directly through the five-acre site where Park City wants to build a new mixed use district with housing and commercial space.

Park City Councilmember Bill Ciraco said moving the power lines underground would give the city more room to develop.

“There’s a 60-foot easement that we can’t infringe upon with any development on the surface where those power lines are,” Ciraco said. “From an economic standpoint, it’s a pretty compelling investment to get those power lines out of that way.”

Undergrounding transmission lines between the Rocky Mountain Power substation on Woodbine Way to a new 85-foot pole on Boot Hill behind the Park City Cemetery could cost $6 million to $7 million, according to estimates presented at Friday’s city council meeting.

The existing poles on Boot Hill would be removed if the city decided to put the lines underground.

Park City Environmental Sustainability Manager Luke Cartin said the municipality has already budgeted $3.4 million for such a project.

City Manager Matt Dias said more work has to be done to fill the financial gap.

“We may seek partnerships,” Dias said. “There’s a lot of private property owners in the area… It’s not going to be easy just to return with a bunch of money to accomplish this project.”

The undergrounding project could also help Park City relocate the Rocky Mountain Power substation, which has been contemplated for years. The council has shown renewed interest in moving the substation adjacent to Recycle Utah and the new Engine House affordable housing project.

Some officials criticized Engine House for being too close to the substation and possibly exposing future residents to electric and magnetic field (EMF) exposure.

Ciraco said relocating the substation and finding a new home for Recycle Utah could potentially yield the city another half an acre to develop in Bonanza Park next to the mixed use district.

The city council did not take any action Friday. Rocky Mountain Power plans to return to the council in the future to provide more details about undergrounding power lines. So far, a date has not yet been set.