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Summit County, UT (April 17, 2019) — Today, the Summit County Council approved an Administrative Order on Consent (“AOC”) among Summit County (“County”), the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District (“Basin Rec”), the Florence J. Gillmor Foundation and the Estate of Florence J. Gillmor (“Gillmors”), the United States on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the Department of the Interior through the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the State of Utah through its Natural Resource Trustees and its Department of Environmental Quality, that resolves environment liabilities with respect to the 461-acre property east of US Highway 40 that is owned by the Gillmors (“Gillmor Property”) and currently under a purchase agreement held by the County and Basin Rec. This purchase will further several of the Summit County Council’s strategic goals and marks a significant addition to Summit County’s recreational open space and growth mitigation strategy.
The purchase of the Gillmor Property will be closed using a combination of Basin Rec open space funds, County funds, and (at the County’s election), some seller financing. The purchase price is $10,380,805, which will be paid as follows: $7,544,241.03 plus closing costs from Basin Rec’s bond funds and $2,836,563.97 from County funds (which includes $2,250,000 that Basin Rec will pay to the County in a simultaneous transaction by which Basin Rec will purchase the County’s 50% undivided interest in the Triangle Parcel) plus closing costs. The purchase price stated above also includes $1,580,805 that is not being paid to the Gillmors but instead is being paid to the federal and state agencies to settle any environmental liabilities associated with the Gillmor Property.
A 125-acre portion of the Gillmor Property will be reserved by the County from the open space dedication for uses to be determined at a later date by the County Council (the “Reserved Parcel”). Some of the Reserved Parcel may be resold in the future to recoup some of the County funding and/or to provide for additional open space monies. The Reserved Parcel will be removed entirely by the EPA from the Superfund designation on the east side of Highway 40.
“The County Council is very cautious about where we spend the open space funds entrusted to us by the residents of the Snyderville Basin through their support of Basin Rec open space bonds, and the Gillmor Property satisfies a number of the County Council’s open space purchase criteria,” says County Council Chair Roger Armstrong. “This single purchase creates valuable open space in the Highway 40 corridor, new recreation facilities and connections among existing trail systems, protects wildlife habitat, facilitates environmental cleanup and the restoration of the Silver Creek stream channel and wetlands, and mitigates growth on the east side of Highway 40. The County would not have been able to conclude the Gillmor Property purchase without resolving the potential environmental liability with the EPA and other federal and state agencies.”
The AOC and purchase of the Gillmor Property furthers several of the County Council’s goals. First, the parcel connects the Round Valley open space to the Rail Trail and to Silver Creek Village and the recreational facilities that Basin Rec is developing there. Basin Rec also plans to program a new trail system for summer and winter recreation over the open space portions of the Gillmor Property and the Triangle Parcel. Second, it protects wildlife and wetlands habitat and keeps open wildlife migration corridors between the east side of Highway 40 and the Snyderville Basin.
Third, it enhances the options for the EPA concerning the ultimate cleanup of the mine waste located throughout the Highway 40 corridor, thereby potentially freeing up capacity at the Richardson Flat repository site that may facilitate Park City’s cleanup of mine waste in the upper portions of the of the Silver Creek reach. Fourth, the AOC contemplates the cleanup and, more important, the restoration of Silver Creek that runs through the entire Highway 40 corridor, which may add additional recreation and habitat opportunities in the future, protects water quality and hydrology. And finally, the purchase preserves as open space substantial acreage that would otherwise be subject to development, which will slow growth and interrupt sprawl east of Highway 40.
The final AOC represents the culmination of six years of very complex negotiations between private parties and multiple government jurisdictions, involving complex state and federal environmental regulations. The County had been negotiating with the EPA for several years concerning the cleanup of the Highway 40 corridor when, in February of 2018, Summit County announced an agreement with the Gillmors to purchase the Gillmor Property, which is located directly north and east of the County’s and Basin Recreation’s 112-acre Triangle Parcel.
“This is an extremely unique situation for the EPA; it has never approved a transaction like this,” says County Council member Chris Robinson, one of the lead negotiators on the transaction with County Council Chair Roger Armstrong, County Manager Tom Fisher, and Chief Civil Deputy County Attorney Dave Thomas. “It’s different because it’s a cooperative and collaborative effort among major state and federal government agencies with varying jurisdictions, the Gillmors as property owners facing potential substantial cleanup liability, and two local government entities seeking to facilitate a win-win transaction for the benefit of Summit County residents. Ultimately, it facilitates a faster and less expensive cleanup of the Highway 40 corridor, is an excellent addition to our recreational open space, protects wildlife habitat, and the provides land for the development of important County facilities.”
The Reserved Parcel was determined by the EPA and the County to be free of contamination through extensive environmental testing by the County and overseen by EPA. That parcel will retain development rights and will be subdivided by the County for future civic and other uses that further the County Council’s strategic goals. Among the possible uses are public works and transit facilities, affordable housing, recycling, senior center, and other possible uses, which may be public – by the County alone or with other public entities - or public/private partnerships.
The County considered the so-called Triangle Parcel as a possible location for such uses but the County Council determined that the Triangle Parcel has higher open space and recreational value to the community due to its connection to Round Valley through an underground wildlife tunnel. Simultaneously with the closing on the Gillmor Property, Basin Rec will purchase the County’s 50% undivided interest in the Triangle Parcel for $2,250,000. Basin Rec will use it in conjunction with the Gillmor Property for recreation programming.
“Summit County and Basin Recreation control 3,737 acres of open space throughout the Snyderville Basin. By securing access to both the Triangle Parcel and 336 acres of open space on the Gillmor Property, Basin Rec we will be able to grow our portfolio of open space and put in an extensive trail system, greatly expanding the recreational transportation corridor from Round Valley to Silver Creek Village for non-motorized travel and recreation,” says Brian Hanton, District Director of Basin Rec.
Silver Creek Village, which is already in development stages, will ultimately have an estimated population of approximately 5,000 residents. Closing on the Gillmor Property is the linchpin needed to bring recreational access to these residents and anyone looking to access the open space areas east of Highway 40. It also serves to interrupt any potential sprawl to the south end of the Highway 40 corridor.
“This recreational open space is different than any other that the Summit County Council will control,” says Tom Fisher, Summit County Manager. “It is relatively flat and offers different recreation possibilities because of its topography. It greatly enhances connections to the Rail Trail and will make the Rail Trail an even more valuable transportation and recreation facility with this acquisition and as Wanship, Hoytsville and communities to the north further develop.”
“This transaction also supports the County Council’s sustainability and water quality efforts by allowing Summit County to facilitate the efficient cleanup of the soil contamination that impacts much of the lower Silver Creek flood plain east of US Highway 40. It is in the County’s best interest to control the land ownership to help facilitate clean-up of Silver Creek. Because some of the money from the sale goes to the cleanup efforts of EPA and the AOC allows the EPA to do remediation on site (i.e., in the recreational open space area), this will in turn save millions of dollars of cleanup cost, while still allowing for significant recreational uses,” says Doug Clyde, Summit County Council Vice Chair.
With the AOC in place, the County and Basin Rec move a significant step forward toward closing on the purchase of the Gillmor Property. The AOC must still go through an EPA public comment and final approval and the County will commence the land planning process for the Reserved Parcel.
About Summit County:Located in the northeast corner of Utah along the Wasatch Back, Summit County is home to more than 41,000 residents. Created in 1854, Summit County was named for the summits of the mountains, including 39 of the highest mountain peaks in Utah. Six municipalities make up Summit County, including Coalville, Francis, Henefer, Kamas, Oakley and Park City. The county seat is quiet, scenic Coalville, located on the I-80 corridor. For more information visit www.summitcounty.org.
Krachel MurdockCommunity and Public AffairsSummit Countykmurdock@summitcounty.org