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Mayor Marcus Stevenson's Monthly Message (June 2023)

The Future of Our Recreation Center

Marcus' Message June 2023 (headshot of Mayor Stevenson with logo that says Let's Play, Midvale! Recreation Center Bond.

If you ever decide to knock on doors in Midvale and ask our residents what they’d like to see in our community, you might be surprised by how often a community pool, and other recreation topics come up. Requests for a new and improved recreation center is something that I constantly heard about when running for office, and that our city council members also regularly hear. Our city is doing everything we can to deliver on these requests, because local recreation opportunities in Midvale are not just a want, but a need for many members of our community. Our residents deserve a local recreation center that benefits everyone.

For parents with young kids, who don’t have opportunities close to home, they deserve a local recreation center. For my wife and I, it’s challenging to coordinate schedules for three kids when they are playing team sports, but it’s even more complicated when our closest option is driving to the Dimple Dell recreation center in Sandy. The need to travel to other communities is a barrier that deprives families of important, but basic services.

For youth who are struggling because our community lacks pro-social opportunities, they deserve a local recreation center. While parents and community organizations work hard to provide opportunities for our youth to engage in positive activities, we currently lack the programs, staff, and facilities to meet the demand. Recreation centers support an environment for kids, teenagers, and young adults to both casually interact with their peers and provide more structured opportunities, such as team sports and even jobs.

For aging adults in our community who want to keep an active lifestyle, they deserve a local recreation center. Our aging population needs ease of access to activities, classes, and programs to help them stay physically healthy, all of which a recreation center can provide.

Unfortunately, Salt Lake County’s Copperview Recreation Center, located here in Midvale, is one of the oldest recreation facilities in the county and is estimated to have roughly 10 more years before it becomes too expensive to maintain. Additionally, due to the center’s age and limited amenities, the programs and opportunities provided see limited participation. If our community wishes to expand recreation opportunities for all our residents, then we must be invested in the process of securing a new recreation center.

Fortunately, the Zoo, Arts and Parks (ZAP) program, which funds community arts, culture, and recreation grants throughout Salt Lake County, will be on the ballot next year, November 2024, for voters to reauthorize. If approved, the new ZAP funding will provide an opportunity for Midvale City to apply for the funding needed for a new recreation center in our community. If we can secure the funding, this will open the door to having a community pool, increasing sports programming, such as basketball, baseball, and soccer programs, and creating a community space for our residents and their families to enjoy.

ZAP is only reauthorized once every 10 years, meaning if we are not successful in securing a new recreation center in the upcoming round of funding, we will likely have to wait until 2034 to start the application process again, and risk the closure of the Copperview Recreation Center without a replacement plan.

A Competitive Process:

Today’s estimate to build a new recreation center is roughly $45 million. In all the property tax, sales tax, and other fees that Midvale City collects into our general fund, our annual budget is about $25 million. There is no financially responsible way for our city to build a recreation center on our own, and we must rely on our partnership with Salt Lake County to use ZAP funding to close the financial gap. Further, because ZAP is estimated to raise about $120-150 million, we may be asking Salt Lake County to use about 1/3 of all the new ZAP funds to build one project, and unfortunately for us, we are not the only community who is gearing up for this process.

To be competitive, we need to either come to the table with money, land, or preferably both, to put our community at the top of the list of proposed projects.

What We Are Proposing:

First, Midvale City is proposing to place a General Obligation (G.O.) bond onto the ballot this year for Midvale residents to approve. This would allow Midvale City to fund up to $10 million of the cost to build the recreation center, which would be paid back over 20-30 years through property tax. Midvale City will only utilize the bonding authority approved by voters if we receive the rest of the necessary ZAP funds from Salt Lake County to build. If Midvale voters approve this bond, but our city does not receive the rest of the funds, then there will be no impact to property tax. Having this financial commitment in-hand as we begin the application process with Salt Lake County will significantly increase our chances of securing our community a new recreation center.

Second, Midvale City is proposing that Union Park, which is owned and operated by Salt Lake County, be used as the proposed site for the new recreation center. Union Park is the ideal location because the county already owns the land, which results in significant cost savings. Union Parks’ accessibility from neighborhoods throughout the city, as well as our schools, means this location will be a benefit to our entire community.

By coming to the table with money and land, we feel confident that this proposal would be looked upon favorably by Salt Lake County and increase the likelihood of securing a recreation center that our residents deserve.

Next Steps:

First, we must be able to show Salt Lake County what our residents would like to see in a new recreation center. Starting this month, we are conducting a community survey to receive your feedback on what amenities you would like to see in a new recreation center, such as a community pool, an indoor soccer facility, pickleball courts, etc. This information will be shared with Salt Lake County as they prepare their new Parks & Recreation Facilities Master Plan, which they are updating the rest of this year and next. This survey will help ensure that a new Midvale recreation center is included in the updated master plan, which is required if we wish to be considered for ZAP funding. Please visit EngageMidvale.com to complete the survey.

Second, Midvale residents will have the opportunity to vote this fall, November 2023, on Midvale City contributing up to $10 million to build the recreation center through a GO bond. This is our community’s opportunity to show support for a new recreation center. In the fall of 2024, all of Salt Lake County will have the opportunity to vote to reauthorize ZAP. It is through the approval of both measures that Midvale will have the best opportunity to fund a new recreation center. 

Third, once ZAP funds have been approved, Salt Lake County will begin to prioritize potential projects. Throughout this process Midvale City will be communicating our monetary commitment and plans for a new recreation center. Project prioritization, funding, and timing are all determined by Salt Lake County through the ZAP process. Our city staff will work to ensure that Midvale is in the best position for a favorable outcome.

While we are still several years out from the first-person diving into the recreation center’s pool, the process starts now. Midvale City staff are taking all necessary steps to make this project a reality. So, while we still have many details to finalize, we are all looking forward to this year’s election and doing everything we can for this opportunity that only comes once every 10 years.

Looks for details of the project at Mural Fest on June 10 and check EngageMidvale.com/midvale-recreation-cente