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Taylorsville Journal

Thousands in grant funding to assist with Labrum Park landscape makeover

Mar 08, 2021 11:53AM ● By Carl Fauver

The Taylorsville Parks & Recreation Committee is working on a foliage facelift for two sections of Labrum Park. (Tville P&R Committee)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected]

Tucked away off the beaten path, Labrum Park (6041 South Jordan Canal Road, about 1900 West) is poised to receive a makeover this spring, courtesy of the Taylorsville Parks & Recreation Committee and the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Officially named T. John Labrum Memorial Park, a portion of the 7-acre site is about to become much more sightly and “water friendly.”

Committee member Aaron Johnson is spearheading the project. He’s the person who convinced JVWCD to pledge thousands of dollars to the effort. He says a primary goal of the “Loving Labrum Park” project is to educate residents about the value and attractiveness of landscaping with so-called “water-wise” plants.

“I think Utahns believe we have more water than we actually do,” Johnson said. “When I moved to Arizona to attend graduate school, I fell in love with the beauty of not having large lawns everywhere. In Tucson, it is almost socially unacceptable to have a bunch of grass. I grew up with our large lawns here in Utah. But I was converted in Arizona.”

After graduating from Olympus High School a dozen years ago, Johnson earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in urban ecology and his landscape architecture master’s degree at the University of Arizona. He’s now the only landscape architect working for Psomas, one of our nation’s top engineering firms, with 15 offices in California, Arizona and Utah. 

In other words, he’s a “real find” for the city’s Parks & Recreation Committee.

“When we moved back to Utah, we specifically wanted to find a place in Taylorsville because I would like to volunteer on the city’s Planning Commission someday,” he said. “There weren’t any openings at the time. So, I volunteered for the Parks & Recreation Committee (in September 2019).”

The Loving Labrum Park project is not a complete makeover of the entire site but rather a planned upgrade for two specific areas within the park: the small open space near the park entrance, where a storage container sits and a modest grassy area adjacent to the park’s playground apparatuses.

“I think improving Labrum Park is a great idea,” said Mayor Kristie Overson. “It will clean up spots that are not visually appealing right now. I support the city council providing them with $10,000 to help fund the improvements. That will also make the project eligible for [JVWCD] matching grant money.”

City Councilwoman Meredith Harker is the council liaison to the Parks & Recreation Committee. She requested the $10,000 appropriation during a recent city council midyear budget review.

“Our goal is to make these improvements using water-wise plants that require almost no additional maintenance from the city,” Harker told her fellow council members. “We want these improvements to provide an educational opportunity—to teach residents how they can make landscape changes around their own homes that are attractive and save water.”

Harker, in fact, is practicing what she preaches. She recently hired fellow committee member Johnson to work up some designs for changing her own Taylorsville yard.

“As I got to know Meredith on the committee, she mentioned she was redoing her yard, so I helped her lay it out,” Johnson said. “I’ve helped a couple of her friends as well. They are fun projects I do on the side.”

By making water saving landscape changes at your own home, Taylorsville residents can be eligible to receive financial assistance. More information about these programs can be found at, and

The Loving Labrum Park project marks the second time Taylorsville City has taken advantage of funding matches from the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District. Back in 2017, soon after JVWCD created its funding program, one of its first grants was $14,048 to Taylorsville City for the creation of Cabana Park (1560 West Conifer Way, about 4600 South).

JVWCD Conservation Programs Manager Courtney Brown was involved in the Cabana Park grant and was again the “go-to-guy” for the Parks & Recreation Committee this time around.

“We have a formula that bases our grant amounts on how much water will be saved for each particular project,” Brown said. “With this [Loving Labrum Park] project, based on the square footage being changed, we estimate water savings of 168,355 gallons per year. Using our formula, that sets the grant amount at $7,400. We will pay for 50% of the project, up to that amount.”

In other words, that leaves the Parks & Recreation Committee with a total budget of $17,400 (including the city’s $10,000 funding approval) to complete the work. Harker and Johnson have both said they believe the work can be completed for less than that amount, with any remainder to be returned to the city.

The large storage container sitting near the entrance to Labrum Park holds critical emergency response equipment. It is one of several supply caches city authorities have strategically placed throughout Taylorsville. First aid and other supplies are locked inside the containers, as a resource in the event an earthquake or other natural disaster disturbs community infrastructure or supply lines.

Rather than move the storage container, which everyone seems to admit is rather an eyesore, a part of the makeover project involves an art design contest to dress it up. The committee wants artists to create a park welcome sign to go on the side of the trailer.

Rather than painting the storage container, the committee plans to shrink wrap the design onto it, similar to bus advertising. Committee members say this technique will maintain the colors longer. Information about the art contest will be provided to Taylorsville schools and also available online at Contest submissions should be sent to [email protected].

Meanwhile, once the area near the playground equipment is revegetated with native and water-wise plants, educational plant identification signs will be included, allowing visitors to easily learn which plants are which, in case they want to include them in their home landscaping plans. Larger educational and interpretive signs will also be included.

Finally, in addition to the makeovers in the two smaller portions of the park, the final aspect of the Loving Labrum Park project will feature passive rainwater harvesting practices. Shallow vegetated channels, or swales, will be installed along with detention basins, to provide water to the plants and to allow rainwater infiltration into the earth.

With a little luck—and possibly a few community invited work parties—Parks & Recreation Committee members hope to complete their Loving Labrum Park makeover by the end of summer.

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