Park City Municipal disclosed at their April 1st city council meeting that if the arts and culture district were to be approved at its current $107 million price tag, additional city projects would probably be put on hold for the next 10 years, including additional open space purchases. But how much open space is there left to purchase in Park City?
Park City Councilor Tim Henney cited the city’s purchase of large areas of land like Bonanza Flat, Treasure Mountain, the Armstrong Farm, and the Clark Ranch in recent years as aggressive action by the city to preserve open space. He said, in his view, there isn’t much more left to do for open space in Park City.
“I have to say, personally, I think we’ve done a tremendous job as a community over 30 or 40 years of buying open space,” Henney said. “Now, is there any open space left to buy? I, honestly, don’t believe there is, or if there is, there’s not much, so I’m not particularly concerned about not being able to fund open space the way that we have in the past inside city limits or right on our border or boundaries. I think we’ve done that.”
Summit Land Conservancy Executive Director Cheryl Fox said Henney is largely right. There aren’t many areas of open space the city could purchase right now.
“It’s a tricky question,” said Fox. “There isn’t anything right now that’s sort of coming down the road. If there was, you could be sure I would be talking to the council in closed session and saying, ‘wait, wait, wait, save some money,’ but we don’t have anything right now of that kind of magnitude.”
But, she said, there are areas of the city that are privately owned and not protected as open space. If the city ties up the lion’s share of their funds in the arts and culture district and the owner of one of those areas decides to sell in the next few years, a purchase like that would likely not be possible.
If and when an area of land comes up for sale is a guessing game at the moment. Fox also admitted that, in some cases, people just don’t have an interest in preserving their land as open space.
“There aren’t very many of them,” she said. “We or people that we know are in conversations with those landowners. We are a nonprofit, we can’t compel people to save their land, so we wait until people are ready to do so. In some cases, you know, they just aren’t.”
Discussions around the arts and culture district are ongoing and no final decision on the plans for the project have been made. City council is expected to revisit the project at their meeting scheduled for April 15th.