Since 1995, the Salt Lake County parks and recreation division has housed the carpenters, plumbers and electricians who care for its 103 parks in an old sheriff’s office at 4490 S. Main St.
Its welders, grounds and trails crews, lawn mowers and seasonal workers operated out of an equally inadequate building at 3383 S. 300 East.
"We park on the street because there’s not enough room in the lot," said Wayne Johnson, the division’s associate director. "We’ve been hunting for a new house for 15 years. We’ve been trying to put 20 pounds of potatoes in a 10-pound bag."
The 2014 budget approved Dec. 17 by the County Council includes $5.8 million to purchase 25 acres at 6400 S. 4470 West, north of South Valley Regional Airport. The property will be converted into a joint operations center for parks and recreation and the county’s public works department.
Two parcels will be bought once the money becomes available Jan. 1.
For $2.5 million, the county will buy 10 acres from a national real estate company, Pierce Hardy Limited Partnership. The land includes several buildings that were part of 84 Lumber, a now-closed low-cost lumber and building materials supplier.
"We got a pretty good deal on that — property and improvements for the price of the property," said public works director Russ Wall.
The other 15 acres are being acquired from Daniel P. and Kathleen Johnson for $3 million, plus the assumption of the property’s "rollback taxes," a special tax assessed on certain properties when a land use changes.
Besides housing administrative offices for both county agencies, the new site has space to store salt for snowplowing operations. Plows will be stationed there, close to maintenance shops that will be developed in the former lumber-store buildings.
The site also will have a station for washing vehicles and diesel-fuel tanks for county vehicles. Wall and Johnson also noted there are plans to establish compressed natural gas stations there, with separate fill-up locations for public and private vehicles.
"A lot of our growth is in the south and west [ends of the salt Lake Valley], so there’s a lot of need for maintenance," Wall said. "This helps us serve the west side of the valley."
Acquiring the land also will allow the county to move its public works operations out of the former Welby gravel pit at 9800 S. 5200 West. South Jordan has long-term plans to develop a park there, Wall said, noting the existing RAD Canyon BMX track will remain intact, run by the parks and recreation department.
The site is a little farther west than Johnson would like, but he knows "25 acres of industrial-quality land is hard to come by, so we’ll take it.
"It was the best Christmas present we could have received this year," he added. "We need it so badly."
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