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OPINION: A thank you is in order for the City preserving open space



As the new Lehi Family Park nears completion, I commend Lehi’s past and present leadership for preserving open space for Lehi citizens today and in the future.

The acquisition of the land for Family Park was the brainchild of landowner Tony Peck and Lehi Mayor Ken Greenwood. In 2000, Greenwood approached the Peck Family about buying the land for the city. The negotiations took place over several years. The city completed the purchase in January 2006. Lehi City paid the Peck family $300,000 over ten years. The final purchase price was $4.2 million, a bargain for Lehi City.

With developers eager to develop the large tract of Lehi land, Mayor Mark Johnson resisted and determined to preserve the land for a park. Although controversy ensued about the park’s use and development, Johnson and advisors determined that a family leisure park would be the best land use.

In a study, Burlington Vermont city leaders identified the benefits of open space. The study refuted some long-held beliefs about the expense of large tracts of open space.

“There is a long-held belief that undeveloped land, even though it may be nice to look at, is not economically productive and that it only really carries its weight in the local tax base after it is developed. Communities are quickly finding the opposite. More and more studies show that conserving open land and carefully choosing where development goes is not contrary to economic health, but essential to it.”

The study concluded eight short- and long-term benefits of preserving open space:

1. Land conservation is often less expensive for local governments than development.


2. Giving land conservation a high priority encourages more cost-efficient development.

3. Communities with well-thought-out land protection programs may improve their bond ratings and become more attractive places for businesses.

4. Conserving land provides environmental benefits critical to sustaining the health of the city.

5. Open space increases property values and the desirability of cities and towns.

6. Outdoor recreation, tourism, and agriculture are big business.

7. Parks and recreation have been linked to better quality of life and crime prevention in cities across America.

8. Open space conservation is an integral aspect of planning for a sustainable city.

Open space protection can no longer be dismissed as a frill. The economic, cultural, public safety and health benefits of balancing community development with open space protection are increasingly quantified in financial and social measures that prove their significant and diverse values to society. 


As citizens of Lehi, we should thank the efforts of city leaders to see the value in open spaces. It may be too late to preserve much of Lehi’s land, but as a little boy said in a letter to a local farm owner, “Thank you for keeping some space for butterflies and birds.”

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