The Lehi City Council met on Tuesday, June 7, to discuss several work session items, including a change to park funding priorities. All members were in attendance (Paige Albrecht and Chris Condie participated remotely).
Heading into this year, Lehi had allocated the following funds for its regional parks:
Mellor Rhodes: $5,000,000
Family Park (Formerly Peck Park): $7,000,000
Dry Creek Lake Park: $4,500,000
Shadow Ridge Park: $1,831,000
Willow Park/Dog Park: $240,000
Mellor Rhodes Park on the southwest side of town has been touted as the “baseball complex” with a proposal for six baseball fields, 20 pickleball courts, several acres of multipurpose fields, a concession stand and restroom facilities.
The phased proposal for Mellor Rhodes Park is:
Phase 1 (utilities) $5,327,530
Phase 2 (south fields and parking) $14,365,873
Phase 3 (center fields) $8,679,501
Phase 4 (pickleball and multipurpose fields) $5,327,530
The park also needs a large amount of fill dirt and a well. The City is currently accepting fill dirt at the site from developers who need to offload excess material. The City estimates a potential $5 million in savings by collecting fill dirt from others over time.
Dry Creek Lake Park on the far east side of town is proposed as a significant regional park, including a recreational lake, beach frontage, a walking trail, a playground, fishing station, concession stand and more. The park continues to be delayed due to a lack of water and the statewide drought.
Family Park on the east includes a proposed all-abilities playground, water feature, sensory garden, amphitheater, sledding hill, viewing overlook and pickleball courts. The park is home to 20 acres of soccer fields used primarily by Arsenal Soccer Club, which funded the initial field infrastructure.
With the need for large-scale utilities at Mellor Rhodes Park and the lack of water to make Dry Creek Lake operational, the City Council has hinted at revising the funding and priorities of the current park projects, which led to Tuesday’s discussion.
“How would you like us to proceed on the parks?” asked Parks Director Steve Marchbanks to open the agenda item.
“If we’re going to wait for the infill dirt at Mellor Rhodes, then to me, there is no point in doing the utilities unless it was going to speed up the process. In my mind, we should take that money and consolidate it with the Dry Creek Park money and get as much of Family Park done as we can because it’sthe one park ready to be completed,” said Councilman Paul Hancock. He offered the first opinion regarding fund allocation changes.
“When I look at Dry Creek, everything I’ve heard is that we may be two to three years out from having all the answers we need to decide on that. So that’s on pause for two to three years. Mellor Rhodes–if we’re waiting for the infill, that could be a year to two to three years. I would like to see us double down and get it done [Family Park],” continued Hancock.
“That’s where I’m at too. It makes the most sense,” said Councilman Mike Southwick in agreement.
“I’m a little frustrated. I look at the PARC tax and how we advertised that. Two years ago, we took $5 million out of $9 million to put toward Family Park. We said we would take $5 million from the PARC tax if it was approved and put it towards the Mellor Rhodes Park,” said Councilman Chris Condie, expressing disapproval of taking funds from Mellor Rhodes park.
“I’m frustrated that we campaigned on that and advertised the PARC tax for Mellor Rhodes Park. I get the sentiment of going toward Family Park and building that site. I understand that and see why that’s a positive thing, but I’m frustrated that we have $17 million and don’t know where we’re at. I feel that we need to give some money to Mellor Rhodes Park. I don’t know that I’m in favor of taking the other $10 million and putting it all at the one park. I feel we need to get both parks going,” continued Condie, the only councilor to express opposition to the proposal.
Councilwoman Paige Albrecht and Councilwoman Katie Koivisto expressed support for putting all the park development funds toward Family Park, citing the desire to fund an entire park to completion.
Currently, the $7 million allocated for the all-abilities portion of the park would only cover the fence, playground, restroom and parking. Marchbanks said with the additional $9.5 million from Mellor Rhodes and Dry Creek Parks, the City could also complete the water feature, sensory garden and potentially the amphitheater, which would complete all the park south of 600 East.
With Tuesday’s agenda item only a park discussion, no action was taken by the Council. The fund reallocation item will be passed at a future Council meeting.
The City is currently in the selection process for the designer and architect for the Family Park plan. The City will thenundertake a bidding process with an anticipated project start in the fall.