U. has big plans for Research Parks, but land patents are getting in the way


A bill proposed by Utah’s congressional delegation would strip the federal “reverse interest” in the 593-acre property the U. acquired from the BLM in 1968.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Staff have great views of the valley that form the west porch at BioFire Diagnostic at the University of Utah Research Park. BioFire Diagnostic was one of the best performing companies in the Top Workplace competition, Thursday, September 28, 2017.

More than 50 years ago, the University of Utah acquired 593 acres in the foothills east of the Salt Lake City campus, which would become a Research Park, the site of which now serves as a key engine of innovation. and economic development.

But the land transfer from the Bureau of Land Management came with a number of constraints that are now, according to “U’s.”strategic vision plan, “Destructive the future of the park.

Below the land ownership transfer patent for the U.S., the federal government has maintained a property-holding finger nestled in the foothills of Wasatch Mountain that Utah’s congressional delegation is now seeking to capture. The fix that would require a literal congressional action was introduced last week in both houses.

Utah’s congressional delegation, with proposed versions of the law in both the House and Senate, is ready to do just that, according to a new release from six Republicans Tuesday.

“By ending the small interest the federal government holds in the land,” Wyoming Governor Spencer Cox wrote to the delegation. Letter of December 8, “The university will have the flexibility it needs to move forward with updated plans for the Research Park, including additional student housing, a research innovation center and additional sites for businesses that emerge from that research.”

The bills, barely lasting a few sentences, would release the federal government’s “reverse interest” in the land, but provided no other details.

“With 48 companies, 81 University departments, and a workforce of more than 14,000 people, the University of Utah Research Parks plays an important role in supporting Utah’s strong economy,” said Sen. Congressman Mitt Romney said in a new release. “Our legislation will ensure that Research Parks continue to create opportunities for Utahns, drive research and development, and drive innovation for years to come.”

The bulletin praised the Research Park’s good qualities but was mostly silent on why the bill was needed to “protect” the 320-acre medical and technology complex. It mentioned an unspecified “barrier” on land that needed to be removed to ensure the park “remains productive and flourishing.”

Clues can be found in the 1968 document, signed by Interior Secretary Stuart Udall, transferring the title “for the purposes of academic expansion of the University of Utah, for an incubator, and for the highway.” and utility rights to serve those purposes. ”

The patent, however, reserved rights to the land’s underground mineral deposits and existing rights to canals, power lines, stormwater drains, and access roads to the federal government. The patent also requires the U. to transfer part of the land to add to Pioneer Monument State Park — also known as This is The Place Heritage Park, just southeast of Research Park.

The land being transferred now houses the Natural History Museum of Utah, Red Butte Garden, ARUP, elements of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, BioFire Diagnostics, and Myriad Genetics.

The reverse clause of the patent states: “If the patentee or his successor attempts to transfer ownership or control of the lands to another person or the lands are reserved for the uses other than those intended for use without the consent of the Minister of the Interior or of [or her] delegates, titles will revert to the United States. “

The Utah delegation’s bill would remove that provision.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall endorsed the measure in a letter to the delegation, writing: “We have a bold vision for the future of Utah’s capital city and its future success. of the University of Utah. Research Parks play a key role in achieving that. Disruptions to their careful asset management could stall this important economic engine for our city and state.”

The land transfer was made under the Recreation and Public Purposes Act of 1954, which restricts commercialization and residential development restrictions on the land being transferred, according to a school spokesperson. Chris Nelson University.

The transfer “predicts the university using land for institutional programming, research and technology commercialization. But, those early plans did not anticipate residential development,” Nelson wrote in an email. “Times change… and as we look at the next 50 years of Research Park, we very much want/need to work to reduce traffic on campus. Strategic housing in Research Park will help reduce travel to campus and solve transportation problems by allowing staff to live close to where they work. “ U. has big plans for Research Parks, but land patents are getting in the way

Yasmin Harisha

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