Mayor wants Council to put parks bond on November ballot

The 900 South Constructed Wetlands.  Photo by Isaac Riddle.
The 900 South Constructed Wetlands. Photo by Isaac Riddle.

Salt Lake Mayor Mayor Ralph Becker announced today that he will ask the City Council to consider putting a $125 million to $150 million bond measure on the November ballot to fund his Connecting You to Nature plan, a series of proposed improvements to the City’s network of parks, trails and open spaces based on the results of a series of open houses and public opinion polls.  Public feedback gathered over the past few months showed that a majority of Salt Lake Residents want more parks and open space in the City and would support a bond measure to fund new public outdoor spaces.

“It’s clear that Salt Lakers want to see an upgraded parks and recreation system,” said City Council Member Kyle LaMalfa in a press release.  LaMalfa’s district includes the Glendale area.

In February, the City decided to close the Glendale and Jordan River Par 3 golf courses.  The decision was prompted by the City golf program’s declining revenue and projected financial losses.  The golf course closings prompted City leaders to reach out to the public for input on alternative uses of the golf courses as well as system-wide enhancements of the City’s parks.

The City received 1,000 comments from open houses, stakeholder workshops and an online survey on Open City Hall.   The opinion poll included 406 respondents from all seven City Council districts.

According to the City, the poll showed that 90 percent of respondents somewhat or strongly support investing in parks, trails and open space improvements. A third of poll respondents said they’d pay $10 a month or more for improvements and more than 60 percent of respondents said they’d pay $4 a month or more.

The City report showed that residents would like to see sustainable practices incorporated into city parks and would be interested in public amenities that include:

• Natural open spaces within the City, which could include urban farms and nature centers
• Mountain biking parks
• Places to engage in more water-related sports, such as along the Jordan River

• Better connectivity between trails throughout the City
• More unpaved trails in the foothills
• Spaces for specific types of activities, such as disc golf

City leaders noted the number of those wanting to keep Glendale Golf Course open was much higher in the open houses and online survey than in the opinion poll.   According to the City, “Just fewer than one in four poll respondents said they had used a City golf course in the past year, and only 6 percent suggested keeping the Glendale and Jordan River courses open for golf, while more than 90 percent said they had used a neighborhood park and more than 60 percent polled have used foothill trails in the past year.”

The Mayor will present to City Council two funding options for improvements – $125 million and $150 million for the Council to consider.

• The $125 million bond proposal would cost the owner of a house valued at the City average of $273,000 about $5.15 a month; a commercial property valued at $1 million would pay $34.32 a month.

• The $150 million bond proposal would cost the owner of a house valued at the City average of $273,000 about $6.18 a month; a commercial property valued at $1 million would pay $41.19 a month.

• The annual operations and maintenance costs for the $125 million package of projects is estimated to be $2.9 million; annual O&M costs for the $150 package is estimated to be $3.3 million.

The Becker Administration will formally present the Connecting You to Nature proposal to the Council at its July 21 meeting. The Council will then continue reviewing the proposal, seek feedback from various community groups and interested residents, discuss issues with the Administration and potentially make adjustments to the plan.

The Council will decide whether to place the bond proposal on the November 3 ballot at its August 18 meeting. If approved, ballots and voter-information materials will be mailed to voters on October 3. Salt Lake City is conducting a vote-by-mail election this year, with limited voting locations available on Election Day.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at