What Lurks Under Treasure Hill?

A Big Dig for Treasure

Treasure Hill project opponents argue that beyond the quagmire of legal rights, property rights, aesthetic and economic arguments—the mammoth project could be impossible to build without endangering public health and safety.

The proposal calls for cutting a 110-foot-deep wedge out of the mountain side and removing 1 million cubic feet of earth. It would be a job, opponents argue, requiring 6,000 truckloads of soil being hauled through Park City streets.

Park City Senior Planner Francisco Astorga calls Treasure’s development plan to get more density and parking on site the “build-to-China approach.” The biggest hurdle for approval, he says, is the proposed earth moving. “The excavation is highly iffy at this point,” Astorga says.

But Patrick Sweeney says “we tucked it back into the hill so that it doesn’t dominate [Main Street]. And it will increase the quality of the skiing.”

THINC lawyer Charles Stormont told the planning commission the extensive excavation scar (the developer calls it a “cliffscape”) required to make the project possible violates the agreement to respect the hillside topography. “It can’t be mitigated,” he said.

Subterranean Park City is honeycombed with abandoned mine shafts. Architect and THINC member Steven Swanson says the excavation could breach those tunnels. “And blasting will be required,” he says. The top soil is likely contaminated with bioavailable lead that would become airborne if disturbed, he says. “People are concerned for obvious reasons.”

Sweeney says this is simply fear mongering. Preliminary testing has turned up no problems and the soil under the project is no different than elsewhere in PC where developers have already moved millions of tons of earth. “Do we have to move some dirt and make some dust? Absolutely. But this is hysteria motivated by people who don’t want the project built.”

Read more coverage on the Treasure Hill controversy here.

Glen Warchol
Glen Warcholhttp://www.saltlakemagazine.com
The late, great Glen Warchol passed away in 2018. His last billet was on the editorial staff here at Salt Lake magazine but his storied career included stops at The Salt Lake Tribune, The Desert News, The New Times and others. His stories haunt this website like ghosts in a machine and we're always happy to see them. RIP Papa Warchol.

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