County parks
Corroon should whittle his wish list
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

If at first you don't succeed, lower your expectations.

This is what Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon should be about in the wake of the County Council's recent refusal to post a $123 million bond issue for park improvements on the November ballot.

The Republican-majority council decided some weeks ago that the Democratic mayor was asking the taxpayers for too much when he put together a park development and improvement plan that went out of its way to spread the benefits of parks and park development around to different areas of the county and among different sorts of park uses. Seeing an opportunity for taxpayers to reap the benefits of low interest rates, low construction bids and the chance to lock up some land before it is turned into more strip malls and subdivisions, Corroon pitched a plan that included everything from trails to playgrounds to equestrian facilities.

But the council majority was apparently so spooked by the idea of a tax hike — even one that would only boost an average homeowner's annual levy by $14 a year — that it wouldn't even put the question before the electorate.

Perhaps the most serious loss resulting from the council's short-sighted position was the planned completion of the eight-mile Parleys Trail, from the mouth of Parleys Canyon west, through Sugar House Park, and on to the Jordan River Parkway Trail, which would also be completed with money raised by the stymied bond issue.

There were many other items on Corroon's wish list. They ranged from the active, such as multipurpose sports fields in many communities, to the more passive — or, as parks experts prefer to call them — "unprogrammed" lawn areas. These are exactly the kind of plans, upgrades and improvements that should be a top priority of local government when untold billions are being spent by the private sector to carve, pave and populate as much land as possible. At least, before the next bubble bursts.

But, while one would be hard-pressed to say that anything on the mayor's list was an obvious boondoggle, that doesn't mean that a smaller bond issue, with an even smaller tax impact, isn't worth proposing. Corroon should work with the Republicans on the council as much as he can, and without them where he must, to prioritize his list of park improvements and come back with a less frightening total.

Just managing to keep the bottom line at something less than the psychologically significant $100 million level might be enough to help a majority of the council see reason — even claim a political victory — and put a plan before the voters yet this year.