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COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT OK AT SPORTS PARK, ACCORD SAYS

SHARE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT OK AT SPORTS PARK, ACCORD SAYS

Hotels, restaurants and other tourist facilities, along with office buildings and parking garages, could be built at the Utah Winter Sports Park, according to an agreement with the developer who donated the property.

The agreement obtained by the Deseret News shows commercial development is permitted at the facility the state intends to sell to a private group, despite assurances from state officials that such development was not possible.The sports park, along with the rest of the state's Olympic facilities, will be sold to the privately funded Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee if Salt Lake City is awarded the 2002 Winter Games next year.

Currently, the $30 million sports park has a day lodge, nordic and freestyle ski jumps, a pool where jumpers land in warm weather, and a bobsled and luge run under construction. The sports park is located off I-80 near Park City.

The selling price is the $59 million taxpayers spent to build the state's Olympic facilities, which also include a speedskating oval being built in Kearns and an ice rink in Ogden in addition to the sports park.

The bid committee, which would take over the facilities in April 1999 as the Olympic Organizing Committee, would also have to establish a $40 million private foundation under the sale terms approved by the 1994 Legislature.

Rep. Kurt Oscarson, D-Sandy, who pushed for more government oversight of the facilities after the sale, said Thursday the terms of the sale need to be re-examined.

"This increases the value of that property immensely," Oscarson, a member of the Legislature's Sports Authority Oversight Committee, said. "My question is, is the state going to get reimbursed?"

"The legislative oversight committee leadership needs to sit down with the bid committee and the also the Sports Authority and discuss this. This is new information we haven't heard about," he said.

During the debate over the sale, backers, including Utah Sports Authority Chairman Randy Dryer, said restrictions on the use of the land would prevent commercial development at the sports park.

But the agreement detailing the donation of the land for the park tells a different story. Dryer was out of the country Thursday and unavailable for comment.

The October 1990 agreement calls for Summit Ranch Joint Venture to donate 386 acres of land in the Bear Hollow area of Summit County in exchange for the state spending $1.9 million to build a road through a housing development.

The road serves 36 custom-home lots in the Cedar Draw Estates subdivision selling for as much as $250,000. It's one of five Sun Peak subdivisions being developed by Summit Ranch Joint Venture.

The deal to build the road is the subject of a federal investigation by the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general's office because it involved federal funds, according to Deseret News sources.

Summit County was awarded a $2 million grant from federal mineral lease royalties that was transferred to the Sports Authority, the state agency overseeing the Olympic facilities budget.

The developer actually donated the property to the Summit County Municipal Building Authority, which under the terms of the agreement, had to transfer the title to the Sports Authority.

The agreement and subsequent amendments to it spell out how the donated property can be used. The list of permitted uses includes commercial development.

"Commercial uses shall be allowed," the document states, "including hotel or lodge-type facilities with up to 50 units, a restaurant or cafeteria, and tourist-oriented facilities."

Those facilities, as well as indoor sports facilities for sports other than ski jumping, bobsled or luge, office buildings and parking structures, can be built on portions of the donated property hidden from the housing development.

Other uses approved for the site include coaching and athletic facilities, including up to 75 dormitory rooms, paved parking for up to 500 vehicles and up to 18 houses for park employees and others connected with the park.

The only uses specifically prohibited are minimart stores and gas stations. A prohibition against fast-food outlets in the initial agreement was removed in later amendments.

The permitted uses of the property could be limited if the sports park is sold to the bid committee. However, the initial sales agreement drawn up by the bid committee and the Sports Authority does not contain any changes in use, according to Assitant Attorney General Rick Wyss.

Wyss, the assistant attorney general empowered by the Legislature to review the sales agreement said he will seek a prohibition against further development at the sports park.

Wyss, who serves as the attorney general's public affairs division chief, said he wants to "ensure the facilities are used for the purpose it was originally constructed for, a winter sports park, not as a (base for) commercial development."

However, the attorney drafting the sales agreement on behalf of the bid committee, Kelly Flint, said he thinks a clause in his draft would prevent most potential commercial development.

Flint's draft of the sales agreement imposes the restrictive covenants on land use already in place and goes on to state that the sports park would revert back to the state if the new owner "ceases to use the property substantially as it is currently use or otherwise for the conduct of winter sport training, competition and recreation."

The bid committee's legal counsel, Jim Jardine, said Thursday the bid committee was not involved in negotiating the agreement to donate the land used for the sports park.

Jardine also said he was not aware of any plans for commercial development on the site. "I've not heard about anything other than what I would call base facilities," he said. "The fact that I haven't heard about it doesn't mean it hasn't been discussed."

Randy Montgomery, executive director of the Sports Authority, said he was aware of two additional buildings proposed for the sports park, a ski museum and office space that could be leased commerically.

Montgomery said he was not aware of any other commerical development. "I don't think anyone's looked ahead that far," he said. "It might be a very good thing to have a stream of income to offset costs."

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Additional Information

Winter Sports Park

Now:

- Four nordic ski jumps

- Two free-style ski hills

- Summer landing pool

- Day lodge

- Bobsled and luge run (under construction)

Allowable Future Development:

- 50-room hotel/lodge

- Restaurant or cafeteria

- Indoor sports facilities

- Other unspecified tourist-oriented facilities

- Office buildings

- Parking structures

- 75-room athlete dormitory

- 18 residential units for park employees

(Maximum height on all structures is 63 feet - approximately five stories.)

Not Allowed:

- Mini-mart type store

- Gas station