|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Swift Communications, Carson City, Nevada|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
-11 UQCB tDCBEP Park City, Utah 250 Vol. VI, No. 44 Thursday, July 23, 1981 2 Sections, 24 Pages ccDSEuintOKonn Gone... 80 By David Hampshire A large piece of history went up in flames Monday morning. When the fire destroyed the Silver King Coalition Building in the early morning, it wiped out the most familiar symbol of Park City's mining heritage. The building had stood for almost exactly 80 years, towering over Park Avenue, once representing the ultimate in mining technology, more recently symbolizing the ragged state of the mining economy. For its first 50 years, the building was used as a loading station for the silver-lead-zinc ore that was mined and processed at the Silver King Mine, in the mountains about Vk miles to the southwest. Connecting the mine to the loading station was an aerial tramway not too different in concept from the gondola that now ferries skiers at the Park City Ski Area. Forty steel towers supported sup-ported a steel cable that guided ore buckets down the side of the mountain. moun-tain. The system was designed to run by gravity: the weight of the loaded buckets was more than enough to provide the necessary horsepower. Massive timbers were used in the construction of the . ore-loading statio, and with good reason. Then fully loaded, the four bins could hold as much as 1,000 tons. The first loaded bucket moved down the side of the mountain, with much fanfare, on June 6, 1901. For half a century the Coalition Building served its purpose, storing ore in its huge bins, then dropping measured loads into waiting railroad cars below. But declining ore prices in the years following World War II sent mining into a tailspin from which it never -; ''"lSt"1'11 i l( .1... . years of history recovered. By 1952, the buckets were no longer moving. For its last three decades, the Coalition Building had stood empty, except for a brief stint in the late '50s as the home of a building stone firm. In 1971, the tramway was dismantled, but the towers were left standing. Vandalism and the elements had taken their toll in recent years. Almost every pane of glass in the huge structure had been smashed; shingles had been torn from the roof by the hundreds. Yet this eerie hulk continued to be an important part of the landscape, even after skiing replaced mining as the biggest source of local income, in-come, Visitors would pull over the side of Park Avenue and climb out of their cars, cameras in hand, obviously ob-viously impressed by the silent majesty of the 85-foot structure. For the locals, the Coalition Building was an old friend. At a time when much of Park Avenue was becoming overgrown with condominiums con-dominiums and hotels, when old houses were being bulldozed almost daily, the huge structure seemed almost immortal, a shrine housing the ghosts of Park City's boisterous past. To many who visited or lived in the area, the building was Park City. It appeared on T-shirts, on the stationery of the Park City Ski Area and on the masthead of one of the local weekly papers. Early in 1980, Salt Lake businessman Jack Sweeney exercised exer-cised his option and bought the building from the United Park City Mines Co. His plan was to restore the exterior of the building as faithfully faith-fully as possible to its original appearance, ap-pearance, then adapt the interior to a more contemporary use. either as condominiums or as commercial space. BO "11 Tl O MnMnmg Photo by Stephen Austin When the Sweeneys asked for bids last summer, they discovered that it would cost about $250,000 to repair the foundation and exterior of the building, and an additional $1 million or more to renovate the interior. in-terior. The plans were put on hold until the financial climate improved. im-proved. Dr. Pat Sweeney, Jack Sweeney's son, was in his Norfolk Avenue home when the fire broke out but, perhaps mercifully, slept through the fire. He was not aware that the building had been destroyed until his mother called with the news Monday morning. She had heard it on a Salt Lake radio station. As the smoke cleared from the site Monday evening, the family already was making plans to remove the last painful reminders of the fire. Pat Sweeney said he had arranged for a contractor to haul away the huge charred timbers. tim-bers. Some of the beams may be taken to the family's lumber mill in Vernal to be planed down and perhaps incorporated in a replica of the original structure. Sweeney admits to having mixed feelings about trying to resurrect the building. "We're going to look at it, anyway," he said. "It would really depend more or less on what the city wanted to do." He pointed out that the current land management code probably would prohibit a new structure of that size. Although the Coalition Building was insured for $175,000, Sweeney said its value to Park City was priceless. "It was so important to the whole atmosphere," he said. "It's impossible im-possible to estimate the aesthetic value. "We'll all miss it, I'm sure." It's gone. The Silver King Coalition Building, Park City's most famous landmark, was destroyed Monday in the latest in a series of spectacular fires. The familiar wooden structure, which dominated Park Avenue for 80 years, was reduced to a charred skeleton in less than two hours. Three Salt Lake City men have been charged with arson and burglary in connection with the blaze (see related story). Mary Eley, a resident of 919 Wood-side Wood-side Ave., was the first to alert the Coalville dispatch office of a possible fire shortly after 4:30 a.m. Mrs. Eley told The Newspaper that she was awakened by the smell of smoke, but first checked her own house before looking outside. She said she then saw a cloud of smoke hanging in the air south of the Coalition Building. "I called the dispatcher about 4:35 a.m.," she remembered. "I told her there was a fire somewhere, but I didn't know where. It looked like either Jimmy Goo's old place (now a shop at the corner of Main Street and Heber Avenue) or the Kimball Art Center." According to Mrs. Eley, the dispatcher dispat-cher asked the Park City police to try to locate the source of the smoke. About five minutes later, her husband, Summit County deputy Fred Eley, called back to report that the smoke appeared to be coming from Deer Valley. The source of the smoke quickly became evident, as a cloud began to collect around the top of the building. "The whole top floor of the Coalition Building looked like a steam bath," she said. Suddenly, the interior of the Eleys' house was illuminatet' as the fire burst through the top of the Coalition Building. "It was smouldering one minute, and it was in flames the next minute." According to Park City fireman Jim White, the first alarm was received at the Park Avenue fire station at 4:45 a.m., and the first truck was on the scene five minutes later. By that time, the top two floors of the building were engulfed. Ironically, the Park City Fire Department Depart-ment had drawn up a fire plan based on a possible Coalition Building fire, Three charged with arson Three Salt Lake City men have been charged with burglary and arson, both third-degree felonies, in the fire which destroyed the Silver King Coalition Building early Monday morning. Arraigned Wednesday in Fifth Circuit Cir-cuit Court in Coalville were Christopher J. DiLaura, 32, Randall S. Slease, 29, and Carl L. Wilcox, 26. Each is being held in the Summit County Jail in lieu of $10,000 bond. According to Park City detective Lloyd Evans, a man was seen running from the rear of the building shortly after the fire was discovered. Security personnel from Deer Valley and Taft International Pictures saw him enter an Amtrak railroad car northeast of the burning building. Upon investigating, in-vestigating, they saw two other men inside the car. When Evans and two other Park City police officers arrived abut 4:55 a.m., they were advised of the presence of the three men in the railroad car. The trio was taken into custody for questioning, and arrested about 9 a.m. Charges were filed the following day. Evans said that the three men claimed they were cold, scaled the fence surrounding the structure, went inside and started a fire on the wooden floor, using pieces of wood already inside in-side the building. They told Evans they were inside for about an hour, but left in a hurry when they thought they heard someone coming. They reportedly repor-tedly tried to douse the fire with beer before leaving the building. Evans and Park City Fire Marshall Herb Johnson were on the scene Wednesday Wed-nesday as a bulldozer dismantled what was left of the still smoking skeleton. However, Evans acknowledged that, because of the intensity of the fire, the chances of finding any evidence were slim. When asked to define "burglary," Evans said it was entering or remaining in a building for the purpose of committing a felony. to which helped them move quickly to prevent the flames from spreading. With White acting as fire boss, crews alerted the residents of nearby homes, evacuating several across the street from the burning building. Firefighters turned their hoses on the homes, and on a nearby railroad car being used as an office by Skyline Realty. Backup crews were called in from Heber, Kamas and Coalville. One of the first firefighters to arrive was Joanne Pillinger, a nearby resident. "The first thing I had to do was squirt the Mack (fire truck) down," she said later. "It was that hot already." The heat was so intense that it melted the red plastic bubble on the top of the truck. In spite of their protective clothing, the firefighters had to keep cool by turning the hoses on each other. "We didn't go five minutes without hosing each other down," Pillinger said. Employees fired after walkout Twenty-eight city employees were fired Wednesday following a wildcat walkout called to protest the city's inflexibility in-flexibility in contract talks. Each of the 28 members of the city's Public Works Department who walked off the job Tuesday received a letter signed by City Manager Arlene Loble announcing that his or her employment em-ployment had been terminated. "On July 21, 1981, you stopped work during a regular working day. I find this walk-off action unacceptable and, because you left your job without notice or permission from your supervisor, super-visor, I am terminating your emloyment with the Park City Municipal Corporation, effective July 21, 1981," Loble's letter read. The city's public works employees, who are represented by the Utah Public Employees Association, voted 17-2 Tuesday to walk off the job after being confronted with what they considered con-sidered to be an ultimatum from Loble. "She said, 'Take it or quit!'" city mechanic Greg Winn said Tuesday evening. "That was just the way she put it." Winn is the vice president of the Park City chapter of the UPEA. He expressed disgust with the salary increases offered by Loble, which ranged from two to 15 percent, calling them a "pretty rotten slap in the face." Although UPEA negotiator Don Clawson was present for the strike vote, the action was not sanctioned by the organization, and Winn said Tuesday that he knew their jobs might be on the line. "We knew what the consequences could be, that the possibility was there that we could get fired," he said. City employees have been working without a contract, and have no established grievance procedure. In addition to the dispute over salaries, the public works employees were angry over a proposed city classification system which makes no -jg I O 4, - iirTriiM 1 tumr I fi-jt'wu"-'" ,r"''i"r The house closest to the fire on the south side belongs to long-time resident Mel Fletcher, who is also a volunteer fireman. Fletcher said he was just getting up when his Plectron (alarm) went off. "Looking out the window, I could see the whole building was completely engulfed," he said. Fletcher immediately woke up his family, then went outside and used the garden hose to cool down the side of the house exposed to the fire. "If there had been a wind, the whole town would have been engulfed, there's no doubt," Fletcher said. "But fortunately we didn't have a breath of wind. Everything went straight up and came down." Fletcher's house, about 250 feet from the Coalition Building, escaped with nothing more than a cracked window and some blistered paint. He expressed surprise at the speed Coalition to A6 concessions to those with seniority. In a Wednesday afternoon press conference, con-ference, Loble denied that she had closed the door on future salary discussions, but acknowledged the group's contention that she would not reward seniority. "I don't think there should be any (wage) benefit given for seniority," Loble said. "There are other ways to reward long-time employees. "You've got to have equal pay for equal work." Loble said her action was taken with the support of the City Council, which met in executive session for more than four hours Wednesday morning. Another charge leveled at the city manager was that she was trying to break the UPEA's hold in Park City by asking separate entities on the city payroll, such as the police and the clerks, to decide independently whether they wanted to remain in the organization. Loble responded that she felt each group should be allowed to speak for itself, and pointed out that the clerks and police voted overwhelmingly over-whelmingly to leave the UPEA when given the choice. In an angry response, UPEA Executive Director Dr. Clark Puffer called the city's reaction to the walkout "irresponsible and inappropriate." inap-propriate." "I feel that this action of the employees em-ployees was maybe not the best action, but it certainly does not warrant the type of action taken by the city today," he said. Puffer urged each of the 28 fired employees em-ployees to file for a hearing in front of the City Council. In addition, Puffer said the UPEA was preparing to file suit against the city "for interference with the right to work law of the State of Utah." He charged that the city had interfered with its employees rights to representation represen-tation and due process, but would not specify how those rights had been violated.