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Salt Lake City Council members Tuesday suggested reducing the cost and scope of a proposed $150 million recreation bond then heard from more than 100 people wanting to sound off the plan.
Golfers criticized the proposal for how it would close Glendale Golf Course.
"This bond isn't about open space," said Angela Witzel, a Salt Lake City resident, "it's about closing Glendale for $66 million."
But many said they supported the proposal to remake Glendale as a park and other aspects of the bond proposal that would enhance the Jordan River and create a nature park at the site of the Jordan River Par 3, which now functions as a disk course.
Heather Dove of the Audubon Society said Salt Lake City needs more natural open space.
"If you compare us to other cities of similar size, we are lacking," she said.
Nonetheless, she suggested the council pare back the proposal.
Others said they didn't want more taxes. A $150 million bond would cost $60 per year on a house valued at $250,000.
"Put this grand proposal aside until you have a plan in place to improve the infrastructure and pay for necessities before taking on a general obligation bond that would increase property taxes...," said Salt Lake City resident Jon Dibble.
Further, he said the rec bond includes no plan to maintain the proposed amenities that would cost taxpayers about $3.3 million per year.
Prior to the public hearing, the council held a second work session in as many weeks looking at ways to modify the proposed $150 million recreation bond to make it more palatable to voters.
A Salt Lake Tribune poll conducted July 13 through July 21 found that 48 percent of those questioned opposed the poll to 39 percent in favor. The poll by SurveyUSA questioned 662 registered voters in Salt Lake City. It had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
In order to improve the chances of passage, the bond should be reduced in size, said Council Chairman Luke Garrott during the work session.
"I don't think $150 million will pass," he said. "I think we should focus on council priorities and sweeteners for the east side."
As proposed, it would spend about $35 million on trails connecting the foothills to the Jordan River, as well as improving the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, it also outlines $23.6 million to transform the Jordan River Par 3 into a nature preserve, and last but hardly least, it would spend $65.9 million to remake the Glendale Golf Course into a regional park complete with Jordan River water activities and a bicycle park.
City Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall said the recreation bond would not only bring a host of new amenities to Salt Lakers but would create the kind of community where big businesses would want to relocate.
Councilman James Rogers, who previously had questioned the bond, said he, too, believed it would be a game changer for Salt Lake City. But he emphasized that outdoor swimming pools should be included.
Councilman Kyle LaMalfa said he favored the proposal, as outlined by the Becker administration. But he criticized the news media for labeling it Becker's bond because, he said, the council had directed the mayor to put together a rec bond proposal that would pay for remaking Glendale Golf Course.
Further, LaMalfa criticized the Tribune's poll on the bond, because, he said, the public does not know enough about its details.
But the rushed nature of the proposal is among the reasons Councilman Charlie Luke is critical of it. Many recreation proposals that already have been approved have languished for lack of funding, he added.
City Councilwoman Lisa Adams, too, said a significant portion of the bond should go to deferred capital projects such as improvements on the stream and ponds in Sugar House Park and Fairmont Park.
The bond proposal must be delivered by Aug. 18 to the Salt Lake County Clerk if it is to appear on the Nov. 3 ballot.