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.
1. Will harm the quality of life of over 600 residents, who occupy affordable housing adjacent to, overlooking, and close to the proposed new location;
2. Places the substation to a prominent location on an entry corridor to Historic Old Town that will be viewed by all who visit our town, rather than the obscure location where it currently exists;
3. Will require a screening that will look like a ‘Big Box’ retailer, with 30 ft. high walls over a 2 acre parcel; (It is difficult to disguise a substation when it buzzes and hums, is over an acre in size, there is no roof, and many units are above it on a hill looking down)
4. Will impair the trailhead of our Rail Trail, obscure its entry and overshadow the creek along which it runs;
5. Will require significant tax dollars that need not be expended, estimated to be $10 - $12 million, which is more than $1,000 for each man, woman and child in our city; (see comments on CDA below)
6. Could impose a significant health risk, including being located on a riparian corridor right next to Silver "Poison" Creek, with contaminated soil from old mines that would be disturbed and would need to be hauled off; (a recent Park Record Article dated June 5, 2013 stated that high levels of lead were found in the first 3.5 miles of the Rail Trail)
7. Would devalue the property of all homeowners living adjacent to, overlooking, and nearby the substation; (studies have shown that "perception" - ex. possibly being known as "the condos that are located next to a substation or power lines" - can directly/negatively affects property values.)
NOTE – It is also our understanding that the City is in the process of trying to create and adopt a CDA. We are aware that the CDA has to be attached to a specific development plan and/or specific development area, and that plan (which is being referred to in a Staff report dated June 6, 2013, as the “Project Area Plan”) has yet to be drafted...We believe that the City only has a General plan at this point (which may be in the process of being updating)...which is why we also feel that this whole process is being rushed. It’s kind of like saying, let’s allocate tax dollars and a tax incentive plan (CDA) for a specific plan, which to date does not exist....and let’s allocate tax dollars and the CDA towards moving a substation across the street based on that specific plan which does not exist. Moving the substation will cost millions of dollars – no one is disputing that. It will also increase the property value of the developer – no one is disputing that either. However, we don’t feel that a CDA is justified for "the move of a substation", which will not increase tax revenue. Moving the substation is what the CDA is being allocated for, and that move will not generate any tax revenue....and what is to stop the Developer from turning around and selling the property to someone else after the substation has been moved (if that’s the direction that Council takes)?
While moving the substation to its current location in an industrial area was the right thing to do in 1983, and at that time solved a problem for all of the residents of Park City, this proposed new move will solve the problem of one Developer and create a problem for 600 residents and the general public, most of whom do not support the move. It is our firm belief that moving the substation to the Lower IronHorse location, by the Rail Trail and the entry corridor to Historic Old Town is not in the public’s best interest. Better solutions are possible!
The Park City Coalition for Responsible Development