Salt Lake County reduces rec center fees on bad-pollution days
When this winter's temperature inversions fouled the air so much that Becky Arrowood no longer felt comfortable jogging outside, she went to the Millcreek Recreation Center to walk on its indoor track.
But she was dismayed by the center's daily $4.50 charge to use the track, noting that the fee was $1 more than to swim at the Fairmont Park pool in Sugar House, even though operating the pool is more expensive than maintaining a walking track.
So Arrowood wrote emails to each of the nine Salt Lake County Council members, asking them to lower the entrance fee on red-air days declared to be unhealthy by the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.
The council did just that on Tuesday, voting 7-1 to approve the immediate reduction of the daily admission fee at nearly 20 county recreation facilities to $2.25 on days deemed unhealthy for outside recreation.
"I'm pleased with the response of the council," Arrowood said after the vote. "I was hoping to get that fee lowered for those of us who just use it periodically. ... I would be happy to buy a pass for three months if I was going to use it, but I wouldn't use the facility much because I'm normally outside."
Because Councilman Sam Granato's plan could cost the county about $80,000 a year if 30 red alerts are issued, the council said the reduced-fee policy will be in effect only through June 2014, when its fiscal impacts will be reviewed.
"We'll have no problem tracking the revenue impact," said Deputy Mayor Nichole Dunn.
Councilman Max Burdick cast the lone vote against the measure, arguing that it encouraged people to get into their cars to drive to recreation centers, adding more vehicle emissions to the pollutants trapped at ground level by the inversion.
In other matters, the council agreed with Mayor Ben McAdams' suggestion that Salt Lake County become an active participant in the Utah Mobility Coalition, a private-public effort to come up with a long-term plan for financing future transportation projects.