After two days of discussions on everything from affordable housing to water conservation, the Park City Council will now delve into each of these issues individually.
It was decided on Thursday that after this week’s surface discussions, the board will schedule in-depth working sessions on a number of topics over the next four months.
Beginning March 3, the board will hold a two-hour working session on its vision and priorities for 2022. Vision 2020 was the guiding document used by the last board, but the majority of this work was done before the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19. Three councilors are also new to their duties.
City manager Matt Dias was asked if what he heard from council this week would take the city in a radically different direction. He said that while it’s clear this council wants to look at things from a new perspective, he’s also heard a strong desire to continue working on what he called “legacy issues” – like housing and transportation.
“You want to step back, you want to understand the story, you want to understand the context, you want to assess the decisions,” Dias said. “You don’t come up with the excuse that something was done wrong or they weren’t evaluated, but you want to look at it with new eyes and fresh eyes, but there’s a certain opportunity in the work that you want to do here, and we’re at an inflection point with some of our challenges in the community.”
After working sessions on housing and transport, the council will also revisit one of the city’s most controversial projects in recent years: the arts and culture district.
The city owns the five-acre parcel of land at the corner of Kearns Boulevard and Bonanza Drive and had planned to build an ambitious arts and culture center on the site, complete with transit infrastructure and a significant number affordable housing units.
After initial estimates pegged the project at around $45 million, soaring construction costs amid the pandemic saw projections of up to $100 million, not including the $19.5 million that the city paid for the land in 2017.
Plans were eventually whittled down to around $65 million last summer, but community outrage over a now-abandoned plan for a place to store mining-stained soil from the construction site finally put the out of the way arts and culture district.
Councilor Becca Gerber encouraged her fellow councilors to see the benefits of the land, especially since a funding mechanism was put in place through the city’s transitional housing tax in 2017 to help pay the costs.
“I would ask that instead of focusing on this as an issue, we make sure we recognize the opportunity we have in front of us to do something really wonderful and great for our community and not nickel and dime every aspect of it when we have a funding source dedicated to it,” she said. “Hopefully we can move forward in future discussions and talk about opportunities.
Plans for the Arts and Culture Quarter included housing and transport, but the council said it would reconsider those aspects of the project as well.
The Kimball Arts Center and Sundance Institute also intended to build a new headquarters at the arts and culture site, signing letters of intent with the city in 2017. But the pandemic plunged the industry artistic in turmoil and both organizations have also undergone leadership changes, casting doubt. on these intentions.
Mayor Nann Worel told council she wanted to see where these organizations are at before taking another photo of the arts and culture district.
“We’re hoping those conversations can start in March, because we have to go back to our partners and say, ‘Where are you at? Is this the vision for which you signed a letter of intent in 2017? Your organization is very different today, so is that still a direction you want to be a part of?” Worel said. “If they’re still all on board, we’ve committed to them to sell them land and build their homes there.
A working session on the arts and culture district is scheduled for April 7.