82 acres of open land in Midway will remain undeveloped thanks to generous hands.
Utah Open Lands and Midway City were thrilled to work with Kem C. Gardner in placing 82 acres under conservation easement. Gardner, who has owned a home in Midway since the 70s, has been concerned as he’s watched Midway “slowly lose its rural flavor [as] it gets more and more built out.” Gardner said, “I’ve worried that we need to protect our open lands as much as possible.”
Gardner is a real estate mogul and has many impressive titles, but for Gardner, this conservation easement tops the list. In a Midway City Council meeting held June 2, Gardner said, “If I could put 130 acres [he hopes to add another 50 acres in the future] in Midway under conservation easement, that would be a great legacy for me. I’ve got my name on buildings. That doesn’t mean anything. I’d rather have open land, particularly in Midway.”
The 82 acres entering the conservation easement consists of two separate properties. One parcel of land, 45 acres running along Highway 113, is an entrance corridor from Charleston to Midway. It will likely become home to a welcoming sign or entrance monument. It will also be open for public use along Snake Creek. The other parcel, a 37-acre plot, is within walking distance from Midway Main Street. It will also continue to have non-motorized access along Snake Creek. Gardner envisions people walking their dogs, enjoying a horse ride, or having a picnic under the trees by the stream. Both parcels have areas that will continue to be leased for growing hay. Most important to him, though, is that this land remains open space that is undeveloped. These properties offer great views of the mountains, protect wildlife habitats, and benefit the community by providing recreational opportunities with trail access. These attributes are right in line with the goals Midway City has in preserving open land.
Entering into a conservation easement means that Gardner continues to own the land privately, but allows public access and use. The 45-acre easement, Gardner generously donated to Utah Open Lands. The purchase price for the easement on the 37-acre plot is three million dollars. Midway City authorized one million dollars from the Midway Open Space Bond to go towards the easement. However, Gardner readily gave the million dollars back to Midway City, entrusting them to use it on beautification projects for the properties. Utah Open Lands will do some fundraising to pay for the remainder.
The conservation easement runs with the land, meaning it’s not just applicable to the current owners, the Gardner family, but also future owners, allowing the property to remain open forever. Gardner wants to encourage others to look for opportunities to have open space and to buy critical pieces to help keep Midway open moving forward. He praised Mayor Celeste Johnson and the City Planner Michael Henke as being easy to work with and very cooperative. He said they are “interested in open space and cooperate in every way to keep things open.” Gardner has a clear message: “I want to let people know that I personally don’t want to develop in Midway. I want to keep it as rural as I can, and I hope people will join me on that.”
If you want to know how you can help protect open lands in Utah, visit utahopenlands.org.