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Salt Lake City voters will decide on an $85M boost to parks and open space

Sunrise in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, June 11, 2022.
Jim Hill
Sunrise in Liberty Park in Salt Lake City, June 11, 2022.

Salt Lake City voters will decide on a Parks, Trails and Open Space bond during the 2022 election.

The bond would provide up to $85 million to create, improve and renovate parks, trails and open spaces throughout the city. It would also implement components of the Reimagine Nature Master Plan, which included feedback from more than 12,000 residents in 2020. Environmental concerns and adding green space were priorities for over 90% of respondents.

“They’re telling us that they really want to put the environment first and growing our urban forestry and keeping our water and our air clean,” said Salt Lake City Council Chair Daniel Dugan. “This is a way for the city to respond to that request.”

If approved, eight citywide projects would be funded, including:

  1. Jordan River Corridor: Plant more trees and plants, upgrade irrigation systems and improve stormwater and green infrastructure. These changes are meant to improve air and water quality. More accessibility amenities are also planned.
  2. Neighborhood Parks, Trails or Open Spaces: The City Council will identify improvements to be made, including the replacement of playgrounds and sports courts or adding elements of neighborhoods’ identities and histories. 
  3. Glendale Regional Park Addition: The former water park at 1700 South will be converted into a 17-acre regional park. 
  4. Folsom Trail: The completion of the trail to better connect the city from west to east. 
  5. Fleet Block Park: Since the Granary District has the least access to parks and trails, a new park will be built. 
  6. Liberty Park Playground: The “Rotary Playground” in the northwest part of Liberty Park will be replaced. 
  7. Fairmont Park: Not-yet-decided improvements will be made to accommodate the growing neighborhood.
  8. Allen Park: The historic and cultural site will be preserved and rehabilitated. Changes will be guided by the Allen Park Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan which has not yet been released. 

Approval of the bond will also result in an annual property tax that will be paid over a 20-year period. It will cost Salt Lake City residents an estimated $53.80 per year and businesses an estimated $97.83.

Dugan said the amounts could be even less because it is based on the city issuing one bond for the whole $85 million. Since the city can’t use the whole amount right away, residents wouldn’t have to pay interest on money that’s not being used.

The Utah Taxpayers Association, a nonprofit that works to limit state and local taxes, hasn’t taken a position on the bond. However, association President Rusty Cannon said Salt Lake City has had the highest tax burden of any city in Utah for many years.

“The average is about $700 and change per year on the average citizen, and in Salt Lake City, it’s over $1,700. So it’s more than double,” he noted.

The association knows the bond will likely pass, but Cannon said it’s a good reminder of the city’s situation.

“Until there’s enough pressure from taxpayers in Salt Lake City to push back on these types of ideas, spending, bonding, higher taxes, they’ll continue.”

Before any park, trail or open space funded by the bond is re-designed or rebuilt, the community will be asked for feedback.

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Kristine Weller is a newsroom intern at KUER. She’s only been a journalist for a year but is excited to see what the future holds.
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