Residents opposed to a housing project at Seven Peaks will ask the city Tuesday to consider acquiring the land for a public park.
The same group of residents also started a petition drive for a ballot initiative to stop the City Council from rezoning the 117 acres for Brent and Scott McQuarrie's proposed 300 houses, condominiums and twin homes."It's an attempt to save that property up there," said Councilman Dennis Poulsen, who numbers himself among those fighting against the controversial project.
At Poulsen's urging, the council will hear a 30-minute presentation Tuesday night from people with plans to create what they call "Heritage Park." The ambitious proposal includes construction of an amphitheater, recreation areas and trails throughout the hillside property.
Knowing Provo doesn't have money to buy land or maintain the parks it has, Poulsen said the group will present "creative ways to finance" the deal.
One possibility, he said, would be to trade land in Ironton the city is poised to buy for the Seven Peaks property. The council voted earlier this year to buy 149 acres at the site of the old Ironton steel mill after its previous owner, U.S. Steel, begins removing hazardous waste left behind some 30 years ago.
Swapping that land, however, could be problematic because of the city's complicated agreement with U.S. Steel. Also, that land cannot be zoned for residential use even after it's cleaned up due to the nature of the unsafe materials. City officials envision an industrial park at the site.
The McQuarries, who typically develop homes, might not be interested in trading their Seven Peaks property or launching a commercial venture at Ironton. Brent McQuarrie said earlier this month that he and his brother have invested at least $4 million into the housing project. They also offered to donate 52 acres to the city for open space or a park. The McQuarries were unavailable for comment Monday.
Residents will discuss setting up an endowment to maintain the park, Poulsen said. The city could stage money-making performing arts events at the amphitheater and rent out the park for Boy Scout camps, he said. Poulsen also sees America's Freedom Festival at Provo using the park for the annual Fourth of July celebration.
Poulsen said he's trying to get his colleagues on the council to buy into the Heritage Park proposal.
Councilman Paul Warner, who favors Seven Peaks' housing plans, said the idea deserves a hearing. "That could be a win-win," he said.
Warner has questions about how the city would maintain such a park given its lack of parks and recreation funds.
The council earlier this month turned down the McQuarries' request to rezone their property for the housing development, partly because the Utah Attorney General's Office is looking into how the land moved from public to private hands 20 years ago.
Council members expect to have a report from the state this week and will reconsider the previous vote at a May 27 meeting.