A work party, ‘Movies on the Plaza’ and a first-of-its-kind triathlon all coming to Taylorsville soonApr 03, 2022 07:51PM ● By Carl Fauver
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Two full years of “we really can’t do that because of the pandemic” has gotten pretty tiresome for volunteer members of the Taylorsville Parks & Recreation Committee. So now that Anthony Fauci, Rochelle Walensky, Spencer Cox and even your most germophobic neighbor are all saying we can poke our heads out a little, the 10-member ‘fun & frolic’ committee has lined up a huge array of outdoor activities for the coming months.
Free movies on the lawn? Check. Food trucks? Check. A spikeball tournament (for those who know what that is)? Check again. Oh, and how about a unique type of ‘triathlon’ committee members cooked up on their own? Yep, that too.
Taylorsville City Council Vice Chair Meredith Harker is the elected body’s liaison to the Parks & Recreation Committee.
“Our members have come up with a lot of great ideas to get residents active again, now that we can finally do a little more,” Harker said. “We have about ten members – although we’d love a few more. They want to give people reasons to get out and have fun.”
Indeed, during a recent report to the city council, P&RC Chairman Jared Smith reported his group’s top two priorities are to bring people together and to encourage health and fitness. As an 11-year physical education instructor for two Granite District elementary schools – including Taylorsville Elementary (2010 W. 4250 S.) – Smith likes to say “I play for a living.”
“Our committee meets on the first Thursday of each month at city hall,” Smith said. “We have ten active members; but we could use twice that many. The more people involved, the more ideas we have. And if we had 20 members, it would be less work for each of us.”
As the P&RC chair for the past 3 years, Smith invites anyone interested in joining the group to call or email him, at 801-982-1847 or [email protected].
In the meantime, here’s some of what the committee is up to – starting with a scheduled work party later this month:
April 23 – Labrum Park planting party
We first introduced you to the “Loving Labrum Park” project a year ago, right after the P&RC secured a $7,400 grant from the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District to help fund improvements at the tucked away site, north of 6200 South (6041 S. Jordan Canal Road, about 1900 West). Unfortunately, COVID-19, inflation and supply chain issues slowed down the committee’s progress on the park. Well, those issues and one other.
“As we began digging around in the area where we plan to plant new foliage, we discovered a hard layer cap over what once was a landfill,” said P&RC member Aaron Johnson. “That meant we could not dig into the dirt as deep as we had planned – and we had to bring in a lot of topsoil. It slowed everything down.”
The area the committee is working on is 5,600 square feet, or .13 acre, next to the park’s playground equipment. Because it will require the hand planting of about 300 plants, it’s a labor-intensive undertaking. The committee scheduled the planting project for this month because April is “World Landscape Architecture Month,” as proclaimed by the American Society of Landscape Architects.
“I am a part of the Utah ASLA chapter and we always do service activities to mark the month, which is intended to celebrate landscape designs on public and private spaces,” Johnson said. “I expect about a dozen Utah ASLA members to help us plant that day. The Taylorsville Youth Council has also pledged to help out. But we could still use more volunteers.”
Anyone interested in helping with the April 23 Loving Labrum Park planting project is encouraged to wear work clothes, bring a rake or shovel, wear gloves and prepare to fill the area with $3,500 worth of drought-resistant foliage. Johnson is also designing interpretive signs for the project so visitors will be able to easily identify what plant types they are looking at, in case they want to consider some of the same water stingy plants for their own yards.
May 14, June 25 and July 16 – Taylorsville ‘Triathlon’
The annual Taylorsville Dayzz 5K run has been around for years, routinely drawing 300 to 400 competitors. This year, P&RC members want to use that successful 5K as a linchpin to create a new activity: the first-ever Taylorsville Triathlon. But committee chairman Smith is the first to admit, it’s not competitive; it’s just for fun, and it’s unlike any triathlon you’ve heard of before.
“We want to raise the public’s awareness of the Jordan River and its recreational opportunities,” Smith explained. “The river’s been cleaned up. It’s safe for canoes and kayaks. You can float it on a tube. You can even swim in the Jordan River.”
The first leg of the triathlon, on May 14, is intended to let participants see the river – but not yet enter it. The bicycling portion of the triathlon will be held that day, on the Jordan River trail, starting and ending in Millrace Park. Triathlon participants will be able to view the portion of the river they will be entering two months later, when it’s warmer.
The second leg of the triathlon will be the Taylorsville Dayzz 5K on June 25. As always, that race will offer a variety of prizes for top finishers in many different age classes. But those prizes will be unrelated to the triathlon.
Then the triathlon will finish in the Jordan River, July 16 – when it will be plenty hot for getting wet.
“We want people to know you can use the Jordan River; it’s not dirty and gross like it used to be,” Smith added. “So, we are inviting people to jump into the river on that day, any way they want: in a canoe or kayak, on an innertube or just in a swimsuit.”
That particular stretch of the Jordan River actually runs nearly as much to the east as it does to the north, from Millrace Park (1150 W. 5400 S.) to Little Confluence Park (677 W. 4800 S.). The distance is a little over a mile.
Registration for the Taylorsville Triathlon is being completed through the city website. The cost is just $10 more than the 5K run ($40 rather than $30) to cover the cost of your “I Survived the Taylorsville Triathlon” t-shirt.
On the same day as the bike ride portion of the triathlon, Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson will welcome hungry patrons back to the city’s food truck night. The Food Truck League of Utah first coordinated weekly truck visits outside city hall in 2019. However, the combination of coronavirus and on-going construction of the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center and Centennial Plaza pretty much wiped out the culinary visits in 2020 and 2021.
Overson’s Executive Assistant Jen Andrus promises the trucks will be back with a vengeance this year. And after purchasing your food, there will be entertainment while you eat.
“We will have six to eight food trucks parked in front of city hall every Saturday night, except one,” Andrus explained. “We told the Food Truck League not to come on Taylorsville Dayzz weekend (June 25). Other than that, they will be here from 5 to 8:30 p.m., each Saturday through August 27, and possibly beyond. We’re now working to line up entertainment on those nights as well. Most of it is already scheduled.”
On five of the food truck nights, the P&RC will present free movies from the stage of the new Centennial Plaza outdoor amphitheater. There will also be musical entertainment on many of the Saturday nights, including at least two performances by Taylorsville City Attorney Tracy Cowdell’s rock ‘n roll cover band, De Novo.
In addition to the triathlon, another Taylorsville first is coming to Millrace Park, courtesy of the Utah Roundnet Association, the governing body that coordinates spikeball tournaments all across the state. Spikeball features two, 2-person teams that compete by bouncing a softball-sized (but much softer) ball on a 3-foot diameter net, in a frame just 6 inches above the ground. It’s been described as a combination of volleyball and 4-square, with the action fast for competitors and fun for spectators.
“Our committee is not involved in organizing this tournament; but we have helped them line up use of Millrace Park,” P&RC Chairman Smith said. “They told us to expect 50 to 80 nets going at once; so, it will draw a lot of visitors to our area. Utah Roundnet keeps rankings, and many Taylorsville residents are among the top 100 in Utah. There will be a lot of local players participating.”
The single-day Millrace Park tournament is part of what Utah Roundnet calls its “2022 Major Tournament Series.” From March through August, the tour stops in: American Fork, Centerville, Draper, Provo, St. George and Taylorsville. The spikeball state championship will be held Sept. 24.
A new park coming?
One final note from the Taylorsville Parks & Recreation Committee is not yet official, but is getting a lot of “buzz.” The mayor and city council are discussing the possible creation of a brand new, 16-acre city park, on the northwest corner of 3200 West 6200 South, the site of a long-covered landfill. The acreage, east of Summit Vista retirement community, currently has a pair of large water tanks on it. An open gate and sign welcome dog walkers into the area; but it is otherwise undeveloped.
Councilwoman Harker wants the area improved for Taylorsville recreators – and she hopes the name “Tank Park” sticks.
“A park designer has put some preliminary drawings together and we’ve had a couple of meetings so far,” Harker explained. “But we don’t have a cost estimate yet, so we aren’t far along. Right now, there are (ventilating) pipes sticking into the ground all over the area (allowing gases from the decaying landfill under the surface cap to dissipate). But it’s a big area and I think we could put it to great use, if we can find the money to do it.”
Because it was once a landfill, city officials say the acreage is not suitable for any type of construction requiring deep digging for building foundations or other, similar improvements.
At the moment, “Tank Park” is being optimistically discussed, but with no timeline for possible construction.
For now, then – thanks to the ongoing efforts of the Taylorsville Parks & Recreation Committee – residents will instead have to content themselves with: bike riding along the Jordan River, watching movies in Centennial Plaza, running the Taylorsville Dayzz 5K, enjoying food truck cuisine outside city hall, floating or swimming the Jordan, watching or participating in a spikeball tournament and listening to the likes of De Novo and other musical groups outside city hall.
Come to think of it, perhaps Tank Park can wait for a bit.