Salt Lake County residents should vote "For" Proposition 1 to approve $47 million in bonds for parks, open space, natural wildlife habitat and community trails.
The bond, reduced from its original $123 million after the County Council rejected the higher figure, would pay for three new regional parks, in Bluffdale, Draper and West Valley/Kearns. It would allow the county to acquire land for a future park in the Magna area and complete two major trails connecting the valley from east to west and north to south.
The package is a good deal for county residents, who have indicated in recent surveys their desire for more trails, parks and open space. Interest rates are still low, as are construction costs, although those are beginning to rise as the effects of the Great Recession recede. The larger bond amount also would have provided a means for the county to bring existing park facilities up to snuff by funding deferred maintenance projects.
But the original proposal is water under the bridge. The one voters will see on the ballot Nov. 6 is smaller, simpler and eminently affordable. The cost to residents of the 20-year general-obligation bond would be a $5.73-per-year addition to the property-tax bill on a $238,000 home. As County Mayor Peter Corroon likes to say: less than the cost of popcorn at a movie theater. On a commercial building valued at $280,000, the bill would be $10.24 per year.
For that almost-negligible sum, the 62-acre Lodestone park in Kearns township and West Valley City would be completed with sports fields, ball diamonds, tennis and basketball courts, a playground and splash pad, paths and pavilions, restrooms and parking. Eighty acres at 14000 South and 2700 West in Bluffdale the Southwest Regional Park would get those amenities, plus large, open lawn areas.
The Wheadon Farm Park, 64 acres at 13800 South and 440 East in Draper, would be completed following a historical agricultural farm theme, including urban farming areas, open-field activity areas, sports fields, hard and soft trails, natural areas and interpretive elements. A tract of approximately 60 acres in Magna would be purchased for future development.
Both the 45-mile Jordan River Parkway Trail, running north and south from Davis County to Utah County, and Parley's Trail, an 8-mile path connecting the Jordan River Parkway to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, could be substantially completed with bond funds.
If outdoor recreation is important to county residents, as they have said, this bond is the best way to get more of it.