The Salt Lake City Council approved funding Tuesday for a slate of new capital improvement projects across the city, including several upgrades to parks and outdoor recreation facilities.
In total, the more than 30 funded projects add up to a community investment of $21,291,884 in taxpayer dollars and will include enhancements to city streets, facilities, transit routes and public lands. The rest of the $34.5 million in the capital improvement budget went to bonds and debt repayments, according to city staff.
Residents, local organizations and city departments can apply for funding for such projects, which generally involve the construction, purchase or renovation of buildings, parks and streets that have a lifespan of more than five years and cost $50,000 or more.
“The greatest thing about our capital improvement program process is that this is the best opportunity for neighborhoods to organize together and to submit applications for community improvement projects,” Council Chairman Charlie Luke told The Salt Lake Tribune before the vote Tuesday.
The Community Development and Capital Improvement Program advisory board, which is made up entirely of residents, reviewed all the projects and recommended ones for funding. The mayor’s office then considered those suggestions and sent its own to the City Council for final approval.
The council was able to find funding for nine additional items, including for three neighborhood pedestrian access points in the Wasatch Hollow Preserve and for a boat dock at the Jordan River on North Temple, Luke said.
The timeline for completion of each project will vary; some already have completed designs and just need to go out to bid for a contractor, while others need more planning and will likely take longer, according to city staff. But all will need to be completed within a three-year timeframe to ensure improvements are fully funded and built before costs increase.
Here’s a look at some of the projects the council funded:
Seven Canyons Fountain at Liberty Park
The council appropriated $730,000 from the general fund budget to go toward rehabilitation of the Seven Canyons Fountain at Liberty Park, a 30,000-square-foot feature with a network of shallow walkways intertwined with walking paths labeled with the canyons and creeks that feed the Jordan River and the Great Salt Lake.
The fountain — which was originally intended as art but was frequently used for wading — closed in 2017, after the Salt Lake County Health Department found it was unsanitary and posed a health and drowning hazard.
Funding for the project approved Tuesday includes design and construction for a partial restoration of the fountain in order to address health department requirements necessary to reopen the feature.
Total funding for the the Seven Canyons Fountain is now up to $857,968, thanks to $127,968 in unused funding from a project improving Libery Park concessions that came in under budget.
The money needed to reactivate the upper part of the fountain has not yet been secured.
Pioneer Park upgrades
Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Park, which has long been seen as a hub for illegal activity and drug use, will receive some upgrades thanks to $3,445,000 in parks impact fees the council appropriated for design and reconstruction.
Specific improvements will be informed by public engagement, and the city also plans to explore a public private partnership. But a draft proposal calls for an estimated $1,500,000 for restrooms, an information kiosk and park host station and historical interpretation signs and concessions, as well as $1,000,000 for food truck access and to facilitate opportunities for event programming like local music, yoga and fitness events and arts and cultural activities.
The decision to invest in the 10-acre park comes just months ahead of the planned closure of The Road Home’s emergency homeless shelter — located less than a half mile from the park in the Rio Grande area downtown— and the opening of three smaller, dispersed resource centers that will service the population.
The council had originally appropriated this money in 2016, with the goal of creating a new downtown park. But because the city found it difficult to find land within its budget and impact fees need to be spent within six years, council members decided to put the money into enhancing the downtown park the city already has.
“Pioneer Park has been slowly but surely receiving infrastructure changes," said Councilwoman Ana Valdemoros, who’s over that district. “And now we’re going to infuse it once again with $3.4 million in improvements to that park, which I’m very hopeful that will bring more patrons to the park and more positive activities for the neighbors but also for the entire city.”
Fisher Carriage House River Recreation & Community Engagement Hub
The council approved funding for $1,098,764 in improvements at the Fisher Mansion Carriage House, a historic property located at 1206 W. 200 South that was once owned by beer baron Albert Fisher but is now in desperate need of repair.
The city envisions converting the carriage house into a nature center, with standing exhibits detailing the natural history of the Jordan River, room for school group activities, office space for staff and places for visitors to receive information about the Jordan River Parkway Trail and water trail, according to city documents.
The project will also provide outdoor storage space for a kayak share and rental program and will compliment a nearby boat ramp, as well as a future GREENbike station at the western end of the Folsom Corridor Trail.
Some $300,000 is also available for improvements to the project from funds negotiated from Chevron as part of the 2010 Red Butte Creek Oil spill. The project has an expected total cost of $1,378,764.
“Fisher Carriage House is something the council has been looking at for a long time,” Luke said. “It’s expensive to renovate and so the carriage house piece is a way" to begin improvements.
9-Line Community Orchard
Thanks to a $195,104 investment from the city’s general fund, Salt Lake City will revitalize a piece of public property that has been vacant for approximately 15 years with a new community orchard.
The project will be located on less than an acre of land along the 9-Line corridor at 1100 West in Salt Lake City. The proposed location will first need to be rezoned to open space but fits with a master plan for the west side area that calls for implementation of urban agriculture and urban orchards.
Anticipated construction will involve grading, site and soil preparation and installation of drip irrigation.
It will be a “unique amenity,” said Councilman Andrew Johnston, who’s over that district.
“We have community gardens and this would sort of be a different version of that," he told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday. "But as far as straight orchards, I’m not aware of any.”
Both the Glendale and Poplar Grove Communities will be involved in planning and design during the initial phase of the project and the city expects to create other partnerships. Those collaborations could include SLC Trails and Natural Lands, SLC Urban Forestry, Tree Utah and local elementary schools. Additionally, the Utah Food Bank will receive any extra produce, according to city staff.
As part of the project, the city’s Public Services Department anticipates a budget increase of $5,348 per year to fund maintenance of the 100 new trees.