Park Bond Fails, Alpine School District Bond Passes

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After weeks of discussion in Lehi City open houses, at dinnertime, on social media, and around water coolers, voters have gone to the polls to determine the future of new parks and recreational facilities in Lehi. The voters have chosen; there will be no new large sports complexes in Lehi anytime soon. On Wednesday morning, the vote was 38% for and 62% against the bond.

After years of Lehi residents’ complaining about lack of recreational facilities and several rounds of citizen polls, Lehi Mayor Bert Wilson and the Lehi City Council presented voters with a $50 million parks and recreation bond for consideration. The bond was announced during a city council meeting August 23, 2016. The city felt that this was a good year to present the bond as a presidential election usually creates large voter turnout, and interest rates on bonds are very low.

Lehi City created a robust, costly awareness public relations and media campaign to educate voters on the specifics of the projects, including open houses, flyers, signage, and a custom website. The centerpiece of the bond was to be the construction of a large sports complex “Rhodes Mellor Park,” which carried a $21 million price tag. Other projects included $8 million for development of Peck Park, and $11 million for land purchases for future parks.

Each of Lehi’s city council members publicly voiced support of the bond. The future of expanded recreational facilities in Lehi is now uncertain. Regarding the bond vote outcome, Mayor Wilson commented, “The Lehi City Council made the decision to let Lehi residents decide whether or not to invest in parks and open space for our future. The residents have made their decision. Regardless of the outcome, I am pleased to see community engagement on such an important issue. The fact remains that our community continues to grow at a rapid pace and there is an immediate need for parks, trails and open space. While we may not be able to complete the proposed projects at the rate that we had hoped, we will continue to work hard to provide great opportunities for our residents to get out and play.”

The Alpine School District $387 million bond placed before voters, however, did pass with approximately 67% for and 33% against, as of Wednesday morning. The ASD bond will provide Lehi with at least one new elementary school, a rebuild of Lehi High School, a new middle school, and money for future school land purchases. According to newly re-elected ASD school board member, Scott Carlson, “It has been a wonderful experience to serve our community as the elected school board member this past four years. We have had great success with building new schools in Lehi and seeing the students succeed in their academics and their many activities.”

Carlson continued, “This year’s campaign has been terrific and I am very grateful for the many hundreds of people throughout Lehi that have been supportive and actively worked to get the word out to their neighbors and friends. Having such support of the bond throughout the district has been very gratifying. The effort to meet the needs of our growing areas clearly requires the whole district working together. It is fantastic to see voters in all cities supporting education of their children and their grandchildren wherever they live.”

ASD Superintendent Sam Jarman said, “I would like to express appreciation to the communities and voters who passed this bond election addressing our greatest facility needs. We are anxious to begin breaking ground on a new high school in Eagle Mountain along with other projects that are desperately needed. We will continue to focus on excellence in all classrooms every day, centered on student learning.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. The size of the parks bond was just too great, as a start. City manager should never have pushed through such a large bond, start in the $10M-$20M range. Look to how the school district bonds…it’s easy to pass new bonds since there’s no net change in cost to the homeowners. And don’t start small, start realistic.

  2. The city needs to learn to work within a budget. They can still provide a sports complex if spending in other areas is conserved. For one Lehi Power wages, trucks and other expenses are out of control. Lehi City is bringing in a huge amount of commercial and business tax revenue. Building permits in Lehi are one of the highest in the state. Lehi needs to put money back into the community to better it. Not tax the residents that are its heart.

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