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Done deal — Park City says $1.5 million pledge from Salt Lake County will preserve Bonanza Flat

First Published      Last Updated Jun 14 2017 03:01 pm

Park City says it will cover funding gap to spare 1,350 acres of open space from sale.

Salt Lake County Council will kick in $1.5 million toward the effort to buy 1,350 acres of open space atop Big Cottonwood Canyon, paving the way for meeting a fundraising goal to preserve the area just two days before a sale deadline.

Park City officials said this week they would make up any gap to ensure the collective effort raised the $38 million required to buy the area known as Bonanza Flat. But they said they needed support from Salt Lake County.

That support came through Tuesday when the Republican-majority Salt Lake County Council did not overturn a vote from last week to join several other public bodies and hundreds of small private donors to ensure Bonanza Flat won't be developed.

The county must still finalize its mid-year budget June 20, but supporters said the support of Republican Councilman Max Burdick nearly guaranteed the county's commitment.

"It's been a tough one," Burdick said. "I just came to the realization that I need to support this."

The county won't use general fund money for the effort. Instead supporters ­— including Mayor Ben McAdams — found an existing pool of money raised through portions of various taxes for the Tourism, Recreation, Cultural and Convention fund.

Most of Bonanza Flat is in Wasatch County, and Republicans on the council who oppose sending county money toward the purchase said the county should look inward if it wants to buy land for open space.

Supporters countered that many of the area's users come from Salt Lake County, citing the easy access through Big Cottonwood Canyon just over Guardsman Pass.

The fundraising effort was complex.

"I have not seen this level of commitment from so many different entities," Democratic Councilwoman Jenny Wilson said recently.

Park City voters will spend the most on the purchase. They approved a $25 million bond toward the effort. At the same time, various nonprofits raised millions more from small donors, and companies contributed to the effort. Other public entities, including Wasatch County, paid in as well.

Park City officials announced on the eve of Tuesday's Salt Lake County Council meeting that as long as the council committed to kicking in $1.5 million, the effort would succeed.

"We have always been committed to saving this tremendous landscape," Park City Mayor Jack Thomas said in a news release. "We want the community to rest assured that we will step up to the plate and purchase the land, but we are reliant on all of the commitments made to date to truly get this across the finish line."


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