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Toquerville withdraws from proposed sports complex deal with BLM.

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Mayor Keane Ellsworth has revealed that he was a paid consultant to project developers.

(Rick Egan | Salt Lake Tribune) In partnership with the town of Tokerville, a private developer is building a park, trails and charter school on this block of public land just west of Interstate 15 in Washington County. attempted to build a recreational complex with Taken May 12, 2022. The deal fell apart this month after the developer pulled out of his Toquerville contract. The City and County of Toquerville decided on September 7 to withdraw its application to acquire the land from the Bureau of Land Management.

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Tokerville, a small town in southern Utah, abandoned plans to develop a major sports destination on adjacent 607 acres of public land in Washington County, before the Bureau of Land Management began a planned environmental review of the project. I ended it early.

Also revealed last week was the existence of a consulting deal between the project’s future developer and Toquerville Mayor Keen Ellsworth, vocal booster for the $65 million Toquerville Athletic Recreation Complex (ARC).

Announced at the city council meeting on Sept. 7, the move was announced by the town’s private development partners, American Charter Development (ACD) and Eastward Management Group, to finance, build, and finance the proposed complex. It came a month after canceling the contract with the town to operate. From Route 15.

The ARC is the western largest with an RV park, wave pool, pickleball court, 32 ball fields, charter school, 150,000 square foot recreation center, trails, and enough asphalt for 6,000 vehicles. was a sports complex.

At a council meeting, Ellsworth revealed that he had received consulting fees from developers, and, pursuant to state law, potential potential that should have been disclosed in past council discussions and votes regarding Tokerville’s involvement with the ARC. I disclosed a conflict of interest.

The minutes of some of these past meetings do not indicate that he publicly disclosed his paid relationship with the developer, which began on August 17, 2020.

Ellsworth was paid at the Sept. 7 meeting to help developers finalize applications to BLM for acquisition of public land under the Recreational and Public Purposes Act (R&PP).

A consulting agreement was signed between developer Frank Tusieseina and EAL Investments LLC, an Ellsworth consultancy. Tusieseina is head of Eastward Management and Zions Landing Development Group, a large-scale resort project on private land next to where the ARC was to be built.

Under the deal, Zions Landing would pay Ellsworth $2,000 per month from August 2020 through the remainder of 2020. Ellsworth was on the city council at the time and became mayor earlier this year.

In March 2020, as a city council member, he signed a memorandum of understanding with the developer on behalf of the city. This is a document that describes the respective roles of the city and the developer in the development of the sports complex.

Ellsworth’s consulting agreement, which includes a confidentiality clause, also outlines his role in helping developers acquire state trust lands at Anderson Junction near the ARC, describing “infrastructure, utilities, zoning, and entitlements.” , and a development agreement.”

The deal further secured Ellsworth’s support on “community relations” and “governance issues.”

It is not clear from the contract whether this work will involve only the ARC, only the Zions Landing resort, or both.

Under the contract, the parties were to “keep strict confidentiality and not disclose to any third party the existence or terms of the agreement”.

However, the contract opened up an exception that allowed Ellsworth to disclose the arrangement at a meeting of the Tokerville major and government, as required by Utah’s Disclosure Act for Elected Officials. It is not clear whether they did so before September 7.

At the council, which revealed a consulting relationship, Ellsworth stressed that he was not involved in the “financial side” of the sports facility. But he didn’t reveal details about his paid work for his ARC developer, nor did the city councilor ask for anything.

Neither Ellsworth nor mayor Afton Moore responded to phone messages left Thursday.

The developer withdrew the MOU in August. This meant that small cities with populations of less than 2,000 had to take on huge projects on their own or find another developer to take on them.

The council unanimously decided to pull the plug rather than take the financial risks of moving forward.