Residents in Salt Lake County enjoy a great quality of life, in part thanks to the outdoor recreation opportunities available through open space. I am a strong proponent of the benefits of recreation and open space to individuals, families, and the community as a whole.
I represent the county on the Jordan River Commission, and served as chair last year. I’ve been privileged to work with the people on the commission to preserve and enhance the open space around the river. Seeing this flourish as a resource for families, bikers, and all other outdoor enthusiasts has been a rewarding part of my public service. These amenities encourage physical, mental, and emotional health and well being for all.
I am passionate about preserving open space within Salt Lake County whenever a prudent opportunity arises. I am also passionate about ensuring taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and appropriately in Salt Lake County.
Recently, a proposal came before the County Council asking us to spend $3 million to help purchase a parcel of land known as Bonanza Flats, in the Wasatch Mountains west of Guardsman Pass. This land is mostly in Wasatch County.
This proposal was denied as I voted no, along with four of my colleagues. We support expending taxpayer dollars within Salt Lake County. Many people contacted us saying they would rather see their Salt Lake County tax dollars spent within their own county to preserve open space.
We have parks that are unfinished. We have opportunities to expand open space around the Jordan River. We have high-growth areas in the valley that are being developed and need open space preserved. We also have our own Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains that some have asked us to preserve.
It is tough to make decisions about all of these needs within a tight budget. Three million dollars may not sound like a lot, but it is one percent of the County general fund. To make decisions regarding large dollar amounts after the budget has already been approved means we can’t weigh this request against other priorities such as criminal justice reform, mental health services, and other needs.
Bonanza Flats is a beautiful area, and worth preserving. That’s why I made a personal contribution through Utah Open Lands, and encourage anyone else who would like to see that land preserved do the same. But I do not believe it would be an appropriate use of Salt Lake County tax dollars given the cost, timing, and location outside of Salt Lake County.