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Taylorsville Journal

Officials considering $16.5 million price tag to overhaul one city park and create a new one from scratch

Sep 08, 2022 12:02PM ● By Carl Fauver

No, coronavirus is not “responsible” for the $16.5 million parks improvement plan Taylorsville City officials are now mulling over. But Mayor Kristie Overson says the virus and its seemingly endless mutations definitely factor into what they would like to do.

“I would say COVID has accelerated our parks planning,” Overson said. “(The virus) seemed to show all of us the importance of outdoor recreation opportunities. Our polls (of city residents) show they want parks to be a higher priority. But also, we have known for years Taylorsville Park needs some love. And now we can move forward.”

Why “now?”

For ages, the 11 acres that make up Taylorsville Park (4700 S. Redwood Road) has been owned, roughly 50/50, by the city and by Salt Lake County. The two governmental entities did not “co-own” the entire park. They each owned specific sections of it.

But, after nearly a year of negotiating and red tape navigating, that all finally changed last month, when city council members unanimously approved something called an “interlocal cooperation agreement” to accept ownership of the county’s half of the park – for free. 

“No money changed hands,” Overson added. “And now that we have complete control of the park, we can move forward making improvements.”

Murray-based G. Brown: Design, INC was hired by the city months ago to come up with improvement plans and cost estimates not only for a complete Taylorsville Park facelift, but also for the creation of a brand-new park that would be 5 acres larger than the Redwood Road site. The combined cost estimate for improving Taylorsville Park  and developing from scratch the site still being referred to as “Tank Park” (16 acres adjacent to the two water tanks on the northwest corner of 3200 W. 6200 South) is $16.5 million.

“The cost estimates for the improvements we are considering would be about $7.5 million at Taylorsville Park and $9 million at Tank Park,” Oversonsaid. “That’s if we are able to do everything. But if we can’t get that much funding, we may have to cut a few things.”

The most reliable “money spigot” for projects like this has been Salt Lake County “track” funding. “Track” is actually TRCC or Tourism, Recreation, Cultural and Convention (Facilities). This is money generated through restaurants, rental cars, hotels and other visitor amenities across the county.

The catch on TRCC funding is, any grant bestowed by its Advisory Board must be matched with city funding.

In anticipation of gaining ownership of Taylorsville Park, the city has already put in for, and been granted, $1.5 million from the TRCC fund. With their $1.5 million city match, Taylorsville already has $3 million to work with to begin making improvements.

Additionally, city officials expect to hear back from the TRCC Advisory Board this fall on a nearly $1 million request they submitted specifically for the construction of 10 pickleball courts throughout the city. If that request is also approved – and the city puts in its match – they will have close to $5 million toward their goal of generating $16.5 million.

City Council Vice Chair Meredith Harker is the council’s liaison to the city’s volunteer Parks and Recreation Committee.

“Who knows if we will get the full grant request. We will build as many pickleball courts as we get funding for,” Harker said. “The first four would go in Taylorsville Park, near the senior center. If we get funding for four more, we would include those at Tank Park. At this point, we are talking about the final two being built at Vista Park (5150 S. 1950 West).”

Harker clarified that pickleball courts alone do not cost $200,000 each to construct.

“If we get that (nearly $2 million) funding, it would cover everything – the courts, fences around them, sidewalks, benches and lighting for night play,” she added.

As for the rest of Taylorsville Park, city officials say it will have a completely new look. Current amenities like the pavilion and playground equipment will be replaced and likely relocated. Parking is expected to be reconfigured so it is no longer directly along Redwood Road. Final decisions on whether basketball courts and volleyball areas will return have not yet been made.

Skateboard enthusiasts can breathe easy. One way or another, City Manager John Taylor says city officials are committed to either improving the existing skateboard park or building a new one.

“The skatepark is a definite priority; people want to see that element there,” Taylor said. “We are now evaluating options to determine what makes the most sense – making improvements to our current skatepark or building a new one.”

Meantime, on the Tank Park drawing board – in addition to the four pickleball courts being discussed – preliminary plans call for playground equipment, a bicycle path, an enclosed dog park and improvements to create a winter sledding area, thanks to the natural slope on a large portion of the site.

As for finding the additional roughly $11.5 million the city needs to do everything it wants at both sites, Overson promises their priority remains locating more outside funding.

“We will go after whatever grants we can find,” she added. “There are grant (opportunities) everywhere; we just have to find them.”

But if push comes to shove, and grant funding won’t cover everything, might the city consider a tax increase to cover park improvements?

“I can see robust discussion about that,” the mayor concluded. “We will need more feedback from residents. But again, every single survey we have conducted has shown parks and open space to be a very high priority.”

One final note: the interlocal cooperative agreement approved by the Taylorsville City Council to accept Salt Lake County’s portion of Taylorsville Park also included a second site being given to the city by the county. A 10.5-acre parcel called the Skyview Retention Basin Park (6425 S. 4015 West) is a large undeveloped area on the Taylorsville-West Jordan border designed to capture water during extreme rains.

However, city officials all agree, the name “park” is not appropriate for the site. They have no plans to add any amenities to the location. It will continue to serve simply as an open area to catch water and help prevent flooding in the adjacent neighborhoods.

As for Taylorsville and Tank Parks, City Engineer Ben White says the designs they now have in hand from G. Brown: Design, INC will likely be made public in a month or two.

“They have been working on the master plans to improve both sites for quite a while now – but they are not quite ready to be released (for the public to see),” White explained. “They still need a couple of small changes. But the drafts should be ready for release before the end of the year.”

What we won’t see in the remainder of 2022 are backhoes and other work equipment at either site. However, next spring and summer should bring lots of flying dirt at both locations. λ

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