Alixel Cabrera is a Report for America corps member and writes about the status of communities on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here.
Magna • After months of driving by, peeking over the street at Magna Regional Park and trying to figure out what was taking shape, Esther Van Epps happily brought her five children to play at a park in their own neighborhood.
“I homeschool my kids, so when parks come to town, we get really excited,” the stay-at-home mom said. “That’s a huge part of my kids’ experience because we don’t go to the public schools.”
Salt Lake County inaugurated the park’s first phase on Wednesday after two years of construction, including 28 acres of open space and a host of new park amenities at about 4042 S. 7200 West in Magna.
It is a promising project for the residents of Magna township, which until now, only had a couple of mid-sized regional parks and a few even smaller neighborhood green spaces. When county parks and recreation crews finish the project, it is expected to be a 62-acre development with varied amenities for people of all ages.
“We’ve lived here for the past seven years,” Van Epps said, “and I have many friends who’ve lived here much longer. And they have been wishing and wanting this park for a long time, and to have it finally here, it’s almost surreal.”
The sprinklers at the splash pad started in the afternoon and kids from neighborhoods nearby immediately ran into them. It looked like summertime, although the weather already gave hints of colder winds.
Other children played on the park’s large outdoor xylophones or went with the traditional swings. Adults slid through the playground hanging from a small zip line. Other features of the park include pavilions, sports fields, walking trails and restrooms.
“It’s worth a visit. You can come on out, bring a lunch,” said Martin Jensen, director of Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation. “There’s enough for families and kids to do to spend hours here.”
Plans for the second phase of the park, which would start to get built around 2024, include more walking trails, and fields for baseball and softball — some of the sports that Magna residents enjoy the most, Jensen said.
“[Magna is] an area that has a lot of opportunity for development,” Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson said, “So we need to be wise and as we develop, we need to make a conscientious effort to assure that we have benefits to the community like this regional park.”
One of the features that caught Van Epps’ eye was the walking paths. It made her think of her immediate neighborhood in Magna, where not all streets have sidewalks and cars parked at roadside often make it hard to comfortably roll a stroller.
“It means a lot,” she said of the new park.