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The Glendale Golf Course survives, a general obligation bond for new parks, trails and open space dies.
The air was let out of the hotly debated recreation bond proposal pegged originally at $150 million early Tuesday afternoon when Mayor Ralph Becker, who had championed it, withdrew his support.
In a statement, Becker said he still supports the effort but believes the timing is wrong for transforming Glendale into a regional park, adding numerous trails throughout the city and sprucing up the Jordan River, among other things.
Becker is trailing Jackie Biskupski as the Nov. 3 election draws near. And a Salt Lake Tribune poll revealed that a new property tax of $60 on the average house (property tax on a $125 million bond) did not have broad support.
The news of the mayor's about-face fell like an anvil on the City Council later Tuesday. The seven-member board was facing a deadline and appeared ready to vote on a compromise $98 million bond. To go forward, five votes two-thirds of the council were necessary.
But when the smoke cleared, the compromise had only three votes. No bond will be on the November ballot.
The author of the compromise proposal, Councilwoman Erin Mendenhall, said she was dismayed that the bond had become a political "rag doll" in the summer mayoral campaign.
Mendenhall said the council had taken on the recreation initiative to meet the needs of the city's changing recreation preferences and to save the ailing golf system.
"The golf portion was the cancer to this when it comes to politics," she said. "I vote we cut the cancer out of this discussion and vote on the bond without Glendale [Golf Course]."
But her $58 million proposal to the visibly dispirited council fell flat.
City Councilman Stan Penfold said he was "frustrated" by the process and said the recreation proposal was a significant investment in Salt Lake City that is long overdue.
"The cancer in this is the mayor's race," Penfold said. He noted the Council Chairman Luke Garrott, who ran an unsuccessful bid for mayor, had said he would not vote for the $150 million bond.
Garrott did vote in favor of the $98 million proposal in an unofficial straw poll Tuesday.
But Penfold, who had supported that pared-back plan a week ago, said it was time to re-evaluate.
While he praised the original proposal, Penfold said he could not support any of the new alternatives and that the political wrangling was certain to continue through the fall.
"Let's regroup. Let's put together a package we all can support," he said. "I want a good, comprehensive bond to take to the voters."
In his early afternoon statement, Becker said his change of heart came after listening to the community and Salt Lake County officials, as well as the City Council. He said he came to the conclusion that the recreation proposal should be postponed given the proposal's size and other tax issues scheduled for the Nov. 3 ballot.
"Given all those concerns, it's best that we take more time, further engage the community and work closely with council members to develop an even better proposal," Becker said. "We also should be looking for alternate sources of funding that may help meet our needs, such as potential revenue from the proposed transportation measure and ZAP funds."
Biskupski, too, released a statement Tuesday, criticizing Becker for the flip-flop.
"He's scrambling to try and gain support for reelection," she said. "And, as a result, is making poor leadership decisions that are negatively affecting the city and its residents."
Biskupski, who did not support the bond or the transformation of Glendale Golf Course, said that open space and recreation are critical to the future of Salt Lake City. But, she added, new opportunities must be fiscally responsible and have broad public support.
"Rather than involving the public and key stakeholders, [Becker] forged ahead with his own plan," she said, "and then flipped his position when it became detrimental to his bid for re-election."
But a number of council members, including Penfold and Mendenhall, said the bond proposal was the council's initiative. The council requested that the Becker administration put together a proposal for the November ballot, Penfold said.