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Salt Lake County has closed a deal to buy the old Hercules rocket-motor plant in Magna from Alliant Techsystems (ATK), setting the stage for work to begin on six projects funded by the $47 million parks bond approved by voters in November.

The county is acquiring the 62-acre parcel for $5.1 million and converting it into Magna Regional Park. That is one of four regional parks — along with Lodestone in Kearns, Southwest Regional in Bluffdale and Wheadon Farm in Draper — that will be built with bond proceeds. The bond also will be used to acquire and complete more sections of the Jordan River and Parleys trail systems.

To get engineering and design work going, the County Council formally divided the bond money between the various projects on Tuesday. The Jordan River project got the most — $11.5 million — but faces more challenges. Multiple pieces of private property along the valley-traversing river remain to be purchased.

Magna Regional Park's $5.5 million allocation will allow the county to make its payment to ATK on April 1, with $400,000 left over to initiate design work, said former Parks and Recreation department spokesman Martin Jensen, who has been promoted to associate director of community services in Mayor Ben McAdams' administration.

"When the bond passed in November," he noted, "the parks and recreation staff went to work immediately to construct a budget and timelines for the projects."

The goal is to complete designs by year's end so the regional park projects can be put out to bid next winter, he said. Then construction can begin in the spring of 2014. That work will take about a year, followed by a two-year "grow-in" period, making the parks available for use in 2017.

Timetables for the trails projects are harder to pin down because each involve numerous segments, Jensen said, and each "is viewed as a separate project. Each faces multiple questions. The property [ownership] issue is the biggest."

Councilman Richard Snelgrove urged recreation officials to keep the projects on schedule and to watch expenses closely, predicting a rebounding economy will cause construction costs to rise.

"It will be a challenge to stay on budget," he warned.

Initial funding comes from existing county accounts, Jensen said, to be repaid out of a $27 million bond issuance this year and a $20 million issuance in two or three years, depending on how quickly the projects are advancing.

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