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Taylorsville Journal

Could Salt Lake County’s outdoor swimming pool in Taylorsville become an indoor pool? Officials weigh recreation options

May 08, 2023 02:57PM ● By Carl Fauver

New walking paths may be coming to Valley Regional Park, after survey responders made them one of their top priorities. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

Barely three months ago the Taylorsville Journal reported city officials promised to construct 10 outdoor pickleball courts in the community this year. The goal seemed quite ambitious. But if you drive by the Taylorsville Senior Center or Vista Park, you will see work is well underway.

“I’m excited to see the construction because I’m a pickleball player, too,” City Councilwoman Meredith Harker said. “They are moving along (on the first six courts), and the rest will be the first thing to get done at Tank Park. We aren’t sure yet when work will begin on those. But our goal is still to complete all 10 of the courts in 2023.”

Remember, “Tank Park” (northwest corner of 6200 South 3200 West) is not yet an official Taylorsville park. At the moment, it’s still simply 16 open acres, atop a former landfill, situated between 3200 West and Summit Vista Life Plan Community. But city officials have announced their commitment to transform it into a park – one amenity at a time – as funding allows.

And now pickleballers are getting more good news in Taylorsville. Salt Lake County Associate Division Director - Recreation Doranne Pittz reports, big improvements are being made inside the local recreation center (4948 S 2700 West).

“Salt Lake County is super excited to bring pickleball to this part of the community,” Pittz said. “A $60,000 overhaul is now underway to replace the large dividing curtain that separates our gym floors – and to refinish the floor. When it’s done, boundary lines will be in place for six to eight pickleball courts. We’ve done this in several other rec centers (throughout the county) and are pleased to now make the upgrade here.” 

Taylorsville Recreation Center Director Tracey Gines is a 29-year veteran of the County Parks & Recreation Department, having worked at several rec centers. She was instrumental in convincing her superiors pickleball would be a good fit.

“Nearly half the project budget ($27,000) is for the new, 2,375-square-foot vinyl curtain,” Gines said. “It will be 95 feet long by 25 feet tall. The rest ($33,000) will cover the repainted, refinished gym floor and all the pickleball nets, paddles and balls we need. It’s an economical project I am confident will draw many more people into the center.”

County officials report the gym was closed for renovation on April 9 and is scheduled to reopen May 15.

Gines and her staff are still working out details on what times the gym will be open for pickleball and what other times it will remain open for basketball, volleyball or other uses. She does not expect to ever offer basketball and pickleball at the same time, on opposite sides of the gym.

“I was aware (Taylorsville City) is putting in several new outdoor courts, and that’s great,” Gines added. “But summer is hot, while winter is cold and wet. I am certain our new indoor courts will be popular.” 

While Gines was aware of the city’s outdoor pickleball projects, Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson was not aware the county was adding indoor courts at the rec center.

“I love it – I think that’s great,” Overson said, when told of the county’s plan. “Pickleball continues to gain such momentum around our valley and across the country. The rec center plan gives people another option during inclement weather.”

While we’re on the subject, mayor, when will we see construction at Tank Park?

“The city is still committed to the four pickleball courts at Tank Park,” Overson said. “I don’t know when we will break ground. But we still plan to have those four, and the other six (at Taylorsville and Vista Parks) completed before the end of 2023.”

 The county is moving forward aggressively with pickleball amenities because the sport ranked very high in a recent public opinion survey. Parks & Recreation Project Manager Andrea Sorensen says her department is now in the initial phase of a big project.

“Now that the public survey has been completed, we are just starting to lay out our next 10-year recreation master plan,” Sorensen said. “Our current plan runs from 2015 to 2025. Over a decade, what the public desires for recreation changes. For example, back in 2015 pickleball was barely a blip on our survey. Now it’s near the top for survey responders. We adjust our plans (and budgets) based on what people want.”

The County plans to release its survey results and recreation master plan later. For now, they are willing to add, beyond pickleball, a couple of very high priorities expressed by residents include a request for a significant addition to the 1.65 miles of existing walking paths at the 94-acre Valley Regional Park and an indoor swimming pool – someplace.

“Regarding Valley Regional (Park), survey responders had a lot of strong opinions,” Sorensen added. “They want more paved trails… they don’t want the disc (frisbee) golf course to go away… and they’d like to know what might be done with the large, unfinished (nearly 14-acre) section that now really only gets used one weekend a year – for Taylorsville Dayzz parking. They definitely don’t want it to receive asphalt.” 

This year’s Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song winner Joni Mitchell would be proud of those survey responders. (Under 50? Give a listen to “Big Yellow Taxi” on YouTube).

County personnel are confident the additional trails are coming. But don’t expect to see any big changes this year.

One final note on Valley Regional Park: the new multi-million dollar, four-diamond softball complex construction has been completed. No balls or strikes had been called there as of press time. But county officials remained hopeful it would be up and running in time to host high school state tournament games later this month. 

“We had hoped to have the softball fields open by March 1,” Sorensen added. “But the wet winter and a concrete shortage put us behind a couple of months. People will like the new softball complex. It has better seating, larger concession areas and more bathroom fixtures. Over at the (nearly identical) complex we opened last year at Big Cottonwood Regional Park, one of the things spectators love are the large fans, suspended under the long awnings (that run out from the structure, in four directions). The fans really help cool people off.”

As for an indoor swimming pool, County Parks & Recreation officials say two viable options are now being discussed. First, a completely new wing could be built onto the Taylorsville Recreation Center to house a brand-new pool. Second, an entirely new building could be constructed around and over the existing outdoor pool adjacent to the rec center.

“It’s no surprise to me the survey shows people want an indoor pool,” Gines added. “I would love to see it, too. I know there’s a need. Swimming pools are the nucleus at recreation centers. Kids learn lifesaving skills there.”

But Gines believes either indoor swimming pool option – build new or encase the existing – won’t happen anytime soon. Either will be another multi-million-dollar undertaking. The existing outdoor swimming pool, at 787,000 gallons, is the largest pool Salt Lake County operates anywhere.

There are no cost estimates yet (for either option),” Gines concluded. “If it gets done, the next challenge will be to maintain a well-trained lifeguard staff. Those shortages are already making it difficult to keep the outdoor pool open for all the hours we want. But I do know the county is taking the survey request seriously. Now it’s a matter of addressing cost and other issues.”

So, at the moment, pickleball is full steam ahead… softball diamonds could open any day… walking paths and an indoor pool are on a more distant horizon… and everyone is still wondering, why in the world didn’t Joni title her monster 1970 hit song “They Paved Paradise?”λ

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