The owners of a Summit County ranch next to a planned winter sports park that would be the site of Olympic events are appealing the dismissal of their lawsuit to stop $2 million in state money from being spent on the facility.
But Summit County officials, who expect to receive the $2 million from the state's Permanent Community Impact Fund as soon as next week, said the action Tuesday does not affect their efforts to build the sports park in Bear Hollow."Nothing's changed. We're still moving ahead," said Chris Schulz, administrative assistant to the Summit County Commission, which was granted the money as the Summit County Building Authority.
Construction of the $30 million sports park, which would include ski jumps, a bobsled and luge run as well as other facilities, is expected to be under way before the site of the 1998 Winter Games is selected next spring.
Utah Olympic organizers promised to build a sports park that could host other competitions as part of Salt Lake City's successful bid to become the U.S. Olympic Committee's choice to host the Winter Games.
Most of the money will come from the $56 million in sales tax revenues that voters agreed last year to spend on winter-sports facilities. The $2 million would be used to build an access road to the site and make other improvements.
The owners of the Hi-Ute Ranch just off I-80 near Kimball Junction, the Hi-Ute Investment Corp., lost their first attempt to get the sports park relocated when 3rd District Judge Pat B. Brian dismissed their case last month.
The lawsuit was filed last October, after negotiations between the ranch owners and the state stalled, contending that developing the adjacent property would damage the "pristine beauty of the area."
Brian ruled that the Hi-Ute Investment Corp. had no standing to challenge the state grant because it was not clear how the expenditure of the $2 million would affect the ranch since the sports park is still being planned.
Kevin N. Anderson, attorney for the Hi-Ute Investment Corp., said a notice that Brian's ruling is being appealed was filed Tuesday in the Coalville court.
Anderson said he intends to argue the judge went too far by finding that the sports park appeared to be an appropriate use of the state's Permanent Community Impact Fund.
Money in the state fund comes from mineral-lease royalties and is earmarked for use by government entities that have been affected by mineral-resources development.
Anderson's contention is that state law prohibits using the fund to pay for the sports park, because even though the money is being given to Summit County the park will belong to the Utah Sports Authority.
Schulz said the appeal is not expected to stop the transfer of the $2 million once a budget for the project is submitted to the Community Impact Board. The budget, he said, could be finished as soon as next week.
Already, both soil testing and the routing of an access road to the Bear Hollow site are near completion, Schulz said, adding that the project will stay on schedule even if the money is delayed.
"That $2 million could be the last $2 million we spend before the Olympics in 1998," Schulz said.