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Op-Ed: Parks, libraries, arts venues are worthy of taxpayer support
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The discussion about when and where government should be involved in our lives leads to spirited and sometimes divisive dialogue. Some would argue taxpayers should only fund basics like fire and police services.

However, I believe three key entities are better off with responsible government and taxpayer involvement: our parks, libraries and arts venues.

We need the commitment and support of taxpayers, through local governments, to realize the stability and benefits that cannot be achieved by acting individually or as a small group.

I appreciate the investment the citizens of Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County have made to make sure all of us have access to enriching experiences. I value the stewardship we have demonstrated in maintaining and preserving vibrant, beautiful spaces for everyone to enjoy.

None of these could be done as successfully by the private sector alone because there is simply not the financial incentive. By having taxpayers contribute, we are able to provide experiences and opportunities for all. If parks and libraries were run for profit, many in our community would be excluded. In tough times, they might close their doors.

Consider Liberty Park: One would be hard-pressed to find an urban park in a major metropolitan city that is as beautiful and well-managed. Certainly, there are improvements that can and should be made to the park, but it is impressive that even during the economic downturn, the park was a lovely and welcoming place for all of us.

There is something for everyone: walking, running, picnicking, tennis, swimming, riding a merry-go-round, or just enjoying a good book in the shade.

The city employees who maintain our parks take pride in their work and it shows. Parks provide spaces that we can enjoy actively and passively. Salt Lake has 126 parks: from Liberty to Faultline to the intriguing Gilgal Gardens to tiny Davis Park. They all offer something for each of us.

Salt Lake City is home to six, soon to be eight extraordinary libraries. Our libraries host public events, lectures, films, story times, summer reading programs, and "how to" lectures.

Need free help with your taxes? The City Library can help you. Want guidance navigating the Internet? You will find it at the City Library. If our residents did not collectively support our libraries, these kinds of services would lose the power of their reach.

Without help from city and county taxpayers, our arts organizations would not have the ability to grow and flourish, as they would not have a place to call home. We have three unique venues in downtown Salt Lake City — each provides appropriate space for various organizations.

The sound in Abravanel Hall contributes to a magnificent experience for Utah Symphony-goers, Ballet West and Utah Opera belong in the elegance of the Capitol Theatre, and the intimacy of Rose Wagner is perfect for plays and dance performances that are enhanced by a black box theater.

In our city, we enjoy incredible cultural and recreational amenities that would be unavailable to us without the help of our taxpayers and our government.  Let's prudently preserve and support what we have, and responsibly build on it for future generations.

Lisa Ramsey Adams is an attorney and candidate for Salt Lake City Council District 7.

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