I am so grateful at last to have a meaningful forum to address the citizens of Lehi concerning the Peck Park Property from the perspective of the one who was there and did it.
I had been talking with Tony Peck for several years about acquiring the 72 acres that had been known as the “Sand Pit.” The Peck family had depleted the business resource of mining sand and had leveled the majority of the property. The north end was still quite hilly. The property was comprised of 66 plus acres belong to the Peck Trucking Company and 5 acres on the north end belonging to Tony Peck.
Ed Collins, the then city manager, and myself were riding around the city one afternoon and ended up at the “Sand Pit” property. He said to me, “What would we like to do, build the Legacy Center or get this property for the city? We do not have the ability to do both.” My reply was, “Let’s do both.”
A bond was passed and the Legacy Recreation Center was built. Tony and I continued to talk about how an agreement could be reached that would benefit all concerned. We talked at length about the benefits of Central Park in New York City and Griffith Park in Los Angeles, not as big, but the same idea to benefit future citizens with open space and recreation opportunities instead of just development and houses.
Tony and I settled on a price of 7.2 million dollars for the 66 plus acres owned by the Peck Company and the yet to be determined amount for the 5 acres owned by Tony Peck. The city traded water shares for that part of the deal, after I had left for Africa on a mission.
Unknown to either Tony or myself, Ivory Homes had been dealing with another family member for the 66 acres and they had offered 9.3 million dollars for the same property. With two offers on the same property, Tony decided to stay with our original agreement, leaving on the table a 2.1 million dollars benefit to Lehi City and its citizens. There were five conditions that the Pecks wanted as part of the deal:
1) The property would be used only for a park, not to be sold for profit by the city. This is explained on the recital page as item B of the agreement to rent and purchase, dated Dec. 29th 2005.
2) The park would be named Thomas J. Peck Family Park. That agreement was passed by the city council Oct. 3, 2006. I was in Africa.
3) Pecks could level the hills on the north end and haul the sand away. This agreement has had several actions by the city council. The first was done on Jan. 13, 2006. This has been construed as an added benefit for the Pecks, when, in truth, it has saved the city much expense in grading. The Pecks could have hauled away a huge amount of top soil, but did not. Instead, the soil was heaped up in a huge pile by the Pecks at their own expense to cap the sand at a later date, again to benefit the city.
4) The Pecks were granted the first right of refusal on future grading and park construction. This was memorialized on April 24, 2007 when the council passed approval to obtain the five acres from Tony. That document was signed by Anthony T. Peck and Mayor Howard Johnson. I was in Africa.
5) An agreement to have a competition level 4-plex baseball/softball facility as part of the development of the park. This item has yet to be consummated in writing like the forgoing numbered items that originated as verbal agreements and passed by council. This pattern I would expect to be followed on this item also based on prior council actions.
The Pecks agreed to rent the property to the city for ten years at $300,000 per year with an agreement to sell the property to the city for 4.2 million dollars. Hence, if you take the 3 million dollars paid in rent and subtract from the original purchase price of 7.2 million dollars, you arrive at the 4.2 million now owed for the property.
When you take all into consideration, the city paid no rent, no interest, or bond costs for ten years. All that was paid to the Pecks was taken off the original principle amount. Both parties benefited. The city saved several million and the Pecks were able to solve a tax situation.
All transactions of consequence have many facets. This transaction had many, many facets and time was running out. The new incoming mayor, Howard Johnson, had threatened to replace all department heads and cancel all outstanding agreements on Jan 1, 2006. The original documents were signed late in the day of Dec. 29, 2005, the last business day of the year.
There have been many accusations of wrong doing or incompetence. If I am at fault, I apologize. I have done the best I know how. If the present mayor and council find these agreements to be too complicated or not in the city’s best interest, the only proper and honorable thing to do is to unwind the whole affair. Have the Pecks refund 3 million dollars and everyone go their separate ways.
I would hope that all agreements would be honored and the citizens of the city would benefit as was envisioned ten years ago.
Former Mayor Ken Greenwood