Park City local government will soon be making a decision regarding the possible relocation of one of Rocky Mountain Power’s substations, currently located on Munchkin Road near the Recycle Center. Thirty years ago, this substation was located on Park Avenue near the location of the Town Lift and was moved to its current industrial area location as part of an upgrade.
Now Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) has again informed the City that they need to upgrade and expand their substation in order to meet our growing area’s increased power needs. RMP owns the property that the substation is located on and has told the City that they can expand at their current location, at no cost to tax payers. RMP has also stated that they are on a critical timeline, and must start expansion quickly in order to be up and running by the Fall of 2015.
The issue at hand is that the Developer, who owns the land surrounding the substation, would like to move the substation away from its current location, where he has plans for a mixed use development. In a rush to meet RMP’s timeline and find an alternative location to move the substation, a high-profile, two-acre parcel on Lower IronHorse and Bonanza drive, has been identified as the probable relocation site. However, this alternative location does not meet the criteria of our Small Town values, vision, nor of serving the public good.
Property values, quality of environment and quality of life in the vicinity of the proposed substation will be very negatively impacted. If moved, the substation would be brought from an obscure industrial location in the IronHorse/Bonanza Park area to an obvious street front location on one of only two main entry corridors to Historic Old Town. This giant “Big Box” structure, with its imposing 30 foot walls, would take up an entire two-acre parcel. It would also overshadow and run alongside of our popular Rail Trail, a Utah State Park, starting at the trailhead. Worse yet, the City is estimating that the move will cost millions of dollars, which would be passed on to citizens through an increase in property taxes.
In 1983, the decision to move the substation from Park Ave. to an industrial area, was good for the residents of Park City. However, this time, it’s much different. The decision to move the substation now would harm over 600 current residents (affordable housing – a rare commodity in our town), whose properties adjoin, overlook and/or are close to the proposed site. The constant humming, looming presence, potential health and safety dangers, and predictable destructive effects, not least of which would be on their property values, are unwanted, undeserved and unnecessary. These effected citizens do not want to have their properties devalued in favor of increasing the property value of a Developer, who willingly and knowingly purchased his land with a substation on it.
Furthermore, the proposed relocation site is right next to Silver (Poison) Creek, which is known to have some of the highest levels of contaminated soil deposited there from old mines in the area. It would also be on a riparian corridor being right next to Poison Creek, which has the focus of the EPA for massive clean-ups. Disturbing this soil could lead to harmful health risks for all citizens living nearby, and/or anyone using the Rail Trail. Removal of the contaminated soil will be very costly, as well, and taxpayers may end up footing that bill. If the substation is moved there, RMP could find their newly relocated substation right in the middle of a superfund site. This is further reason why the Lower IronHorse location is not the best site for RMP, but nothing more than a “quick fix”, which would only create a mountain of other problems for the community at large.
The majority of the residents, homeowners and business owners in the area, are in favor of responsible development in the IronHorse/Bonanza Park area, but not at any cost. If just one of the 600+ hard working citizens/residents of Park City loses his or her investment, in part or in whole, because of this unnecessary move favoring a Developer, then it is not the right decision. Protecting our Rail Trail, our residents and our Small Town should be the priority. Please tell your council members that moving the substation is wrong, and it is not your vision of what our town is, or ever should be. BETTER SOLUTIONS ARE POSSIBLE.