Will Salt Lake City’s new park reflect its Raging Waters past?

Workers demolish the former Raging Waters/Seven Peaks water park in Salt Lake City on October 15, 2021. Salt Lake City public land officials say a public pool and water features were the main response in public comments about what residents expect from a new regional park replacing the water park. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

Estimated reading time: 6-7 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Kathryn Stewart hopes the future of Glendale Regional Park will involve some form of water activity, if not a water park as it once was as Raging Waters and, more recently, Seven Peaks.

This, she says, gives kids like her fun ways to get outside and exercise, while leaving their phones behind. And given its location, in middle- and low-income neighborhoods, kids on the west side of town wouldn’t have to travel far to get there.

“Many young people face the challenges associated with a lack of outdoor exercise and play,” she told Salt Lake City Council members Tuesday night. “Water parks bring fun to children who may never have the chance to go to the beach or play in some waves. … It is vital for children to combine outdoor exercise pleasure.”

She hadn’t finished listing the benefits of a water park when council trustees cut her off because she had exceeded her two minutes of public comment time. However, she’s not the only one with her thoughts on the 17-acre open space in southwest Salt Lake City.

Earlier Tuesday, Salt Lake City public lands officials and city planners shared with the council their initial findings on large audiences for the new park, revealing that water recreation kept more than 1,300 people busy who filled out surveys. earlier this year.

It seems almost certain that the new park will have at least some element of its past use as a water park, based on public feedback and the possibility of partnerships with county officials.

“It’s really clear that an outdoor pool is really wanted by this community in this location,” said Katherine Maus, public lands planner for Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands. “The community really lacks a water feature to play in.”

Nancy Monteith, the senior landscape architect for Salt Lake City’s engineering division, added that a swimming pool would also fit with Salt Lake County’s master plan for parks. The county master plan, which was updated in 2015, calls for a Class 1 regional park in Salt Lake City, west of Interstate 15, which includes “sports fields, trails, water games / swimming pool, passive leisure”.

The city could also partner with Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation on the project, as it operates all water and ice facilities in the county.

“It actually aligns very well with what the community is telling us,” she said.

However, the Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands has yet to officially decide on a pool or water feature. He is still sifting through the more than 1,300 comments received from his online survey which ended in mid-April, in addition to the more than 300 comments he received at in-person events.

More than a water park?

Kristin Riker, director of Salt Lake City Public Lands, said demolition of the old Raging Water/Seven Peaks water park, which began last year, is underway. It’s expected to continue into the spring as the department considers what’s next for the space. The city is required to reopen at least some of the land for recreation by April 2024 due to former state and federal funding stipulations.

A preferred draft plan for the park will be released later this month or early June, Monteith said. The final master plan for the park is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

There are, however, other options that people want out of space than a swimming pool. A hiking hill/lookout, river access with kayak rentals/boat ramp, space for biking/skating and skateboarding, and a food truck lot also landed at the top of the comments, according to Maus. Some sort of sports-related terrain was another frequently mentioned desire for the space.

“The hill where the waterslides once stood seemed to be a very popular site for potential hiking trails, bike paths and a viewpoint; and many people expressed a desire to access the Jordan River from this site. “, she said.

The final product will likely contain as many achievable main ideas as possible. Meanwhile, the Glendale Green was the more popular of the two concepts shared in the survey, while safe passage on 1700 South is a “very high priority,” Maus said.

A rendering of "Glendale Green" concept for Glendale Regional Park.  This concept relies more on gathering spaces to connect neighbors, but also includes activities for all ages of visitors.  He beat the "The great outdoors" concept also proposed.
A rendering of “The Glendale Green” concept for Glendale Regional Park. This concept relies more on gathering spaces to connect neighbors, but also includes activities for all ages of visitors. It preceded the concept “The Great Outdoors” which was also proposed. (Photo: Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands)

She added that they believe the neighborhoods of Glendale and Poplar Grove, as well as residents of South Salt Lake and West Valley City, appear to be the primary market for the park, which is expected to represent 60% to 80% of users on a weekly basis. .

Given that the average household size in the primary market is larger, the median age is younger, and the median household income is lower than in the rest of the region, she recommended that low-cost programs or are taken into account in future uses and program planning.

Planners believe there is a secondary market for the rest of Salt Lake City residents, who will travel for a specific amenity or activity the park has to offer.

Why You’ll Have To Wait To Jump Into The Pool

If the city decides on a swimming pool or a massive land-based body of water for the park, Monteith warns it’s highly unlikely, if not impossible, it will be open by the April 2024 deadline. In fact, many of the most important features will likely be added in future phases due to the many constraints to come.

To begin with, the project only has $3.2 million in funds; Monteith said a lot more is needed to bring the site to its full potential, although it’s unclear how much is needed because the division has not finalized its plan. Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, during her fiscal year 2023 budget request Tuesday night, proposed adding an $80 million parks bond for residents to vote in November, which would help create new funds for the park, as well as other public spaces in the city. .

You won’t see the whole park in 2024. Even if it was fully funded, you couldn’t deliver everything in 2024.

–Nancy Monteith, Salt Lake City Engineering Division

Second, April 2024 is fast approaching and city planners do not expect to have time to begin construction on Glendale Regional Park until the spring of 2023. Monteith stressed that the city is not immune to construction issues such as whether labor and supply chain shortages or inflation, either. These types of construction issues have delayed projects across the state.

She underscored those constraints when Salt Lake City Councilman Alejandro Puy, who represents the neighborhood of Glendale, expressed concern that the city was setting high expectations for a park that might not be able to meet. .

“You won’t see the whole park in 2024,” Monteith replied. “Even if fully funded, you couldn’t deliver everything in 2024.”

The city plans to send out an RFP this month to test the construction waters even though it doesn’t have a final plan and doesn’t expect construction on the park to begin until spring of 2023, she explained. This is to help speed up the process in the rapid recovery of the park.

With the money secured so far and the limitations of construction, planners believe the park could have play areas, community gathering space, walking paths, plants, lighting, access to Jourdain and parking spaces by the deadline of April 2024.

Everything else, including a possible swimming pool, would come later.

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Carter Williams is an award-winning journalist who covers general news, the outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com. He previously worked for the Deseret News. He is a transplant from Utah via Rochester, New York.

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