Vista Park receives a tree makeover at no cost to taxpayersNov 03, 2022 07:56PM ● By Carl Fauver
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
It’s been said, “The best things in life are free.”
We may not always agree with that sentiment. But when you are on the receiving end of a sizeable donation, it normally feels pretty good.
Such was the case earlier this fall for Taylorsville residents and visitors who enjoy the children’s playground equipment and open lawn space at the 18-acre Vista Park (5150 S. 1950 W.).
“New trees have been planted at Vista Park – and they are substantial, not little ones,” Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson recently reported to city council members. “These new trees will benefit us next year, and for many years to come.”
Known primarily for its baseball and softball diamonds, Vista Park is maintained and operated by Salt Lake County. Therefore, city officials played no real role in organizing a recent tree planting project at the park.
Instead, the credit for the park’s new look goes to an organization you’ve likely never heard of before: TreeUtah. The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization’s Executive Director is Amy May.
“TreeUtah plants trees in parks, school yards and other public lands all across the state,” May said. “Part of our role is to work as matchmakers between (financial) donors and places that need trees. On two different days, we planted 30 trees in Vista Park. The 12-to-15-foot trees were box elder, bur oak, frontier elm, hedge maple and honey locust. These varieties are exceptionally hearty, because parks are tough on trees. Kids break off limbs. Dogs (urinate) on them. We like to give our new trees a fighting chance.”
On their website (treeutah.org) they explain, “TreeUtah was the brainchild of a Salt Lake Tribune journalist, Pepper Provenzano, in 1988, and became a nonprofit in 1989. Since then, thousands of volunteers, staff and board have stepped forward to nurture and grow the organization and its mission. We’re proud to lead a statewide effort to match volunteers up with projects to plant more trees in Utah!”
May reports the retail value of the trees alone was about $500 each. But Taylorsville City and Salt Lake County taxpayers avoided footing the bill thanks to a thriving Utah-based coffee chain, with two of its 67 locations in Taylorsville.
According to their website (beansandbrews.com), the family-owned Beans & Brews Coffeehouse launched in a store near Salt Lake’s Liberty Park in 1993. When the company decided to expand, their first Taylorsville location (5373 S. 3600 W.) was their third overall location. For a time, that site also served as their corporate headquarters. Much more recently, a second Taylorsville Beans & Brews opened across Redwood Road from Taylorsville High School (1776 W. 5400 S.).
“We employ about 15 full and parttime people at each of our Taylorsville stores – and at all 67 of our locations,” Beans & Brews Marketing VP Carrie Mongold said. “We have 62 stores in Utah, two each in Idaho and Nevada, and one in Arizona. I started with the company as a barista, 28 years ago.”
Earlier this year, Mongold says Beans & Brews launched a public service campaign they call “Brew Good.” Each quarter, the company donates $10,000 to a worthy cause. Their first two expenditures this year went to animal services and mental health awareness. The company’s third $10,000 donation of 2022 paid for most, but not quite all, of the Vista Park trees.
“We knew we wanted our third donation of the year to focus on the environment – and I had heard of TreeUtah before,” Mongold continued. “So, we approached them, and they are the ones who identified Vista Park as a good place to plant. That was nice because it was easy for our (Salt Lake Valley) employees to get to. It was really hard work. I think we were expecting saplings, and these were very large, substantial trees.”
Now that they are in the ground, it will be up to Salt Lake County Parks & Recreation maintenance personnel to give the trees a little additional watering and TLC. TreeUtah reports these larger trees enjoy a much higher survival rate than smaller trees. But they do remain rather temperamental their first year or two in the ground.