Some people cruise to the Bahamas - just to get away from it all.
Murray Mayor Lynn Pett drives a few blocks from City Hall. Standing on the 18th hole of the Murray Parkway Golf Course, Pett's got a bird's-eye view of the Jordan River - which, if the mayor has his way, will one day give residents a quality of life that even an economic boom can't provide.Picture this: Migrating species raising their young in the cattails, muskrats swimming through the wetlands, nature areas where school children can study science in outdoor classrooms and pathways where joggers, mountain bikers and horse riders can travel from one end of the valley to the other away from hassle and hustle of downtown traffic.
Pett's dream could become a reality if Murray residents continue to support Murray's portion of the Provo-Jordan River Parkway Master Plan, which will connect the natural world with city dwellers. When completed, the parkway will provide Murray residents with more than 2.3 miles of continuous open space linked together by a network of trails.
The plan has miles to go to fruition. But Pett and company already has made progress that many - including the mayor himself - didn't imagine possible.
The golf course is a good example.
In 1973, Pett, then Murray's recreation director, began making plans for the 18-hole course. The city had no property, no water rights and no hometown money to invest - merely on a dream.
"At that time we had nothing other than a plan," Pett said.
But landowner donations - 18 acres - came forth. So did matching grants, including $1 million from Land and Water Conservation and more than $1 million from the Jordan River Parkway Authority. The Utah Department of Transportation even pitched in - with 550,000 yards of donated dirt.
Murray City also took the risk and secured a $1.6 million bond.
Their bets paid off.
The golf course, according to Pett, now takes in close to $900,000 a year in revenues, and turns back nearly $450,000 to pay off bonds for the initial purchase and development of the course, plus a $1.5 million Revenue Bond for land acquisition for limited development along the Jordan River from 4800 South to 6400 South.
Pett said grants from the Jordan River Parkway Foundation in the amount of $16,000 will be used to construct a footbridge across the Jordan River for connecting trails. An additional $7,350 is coming from the Riverway Enhancement Fund, and between $5,000 and $10,000 from the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks.
Still another grant is expected from the Environmental Protection Agency to use the Jordan River Parkway between 6400 South and I-215 as a model project on bank stabilization and revegetation, Pett said.
Channeling the debris-filled, overflowing river into a recreational and wildlife haven has been a longtime goal Pett has shared with many in his community of 31,000.
In 1972, Murray officials commissioned architects to complete the first master plan for the Jordan River Parkway from 6400 South to 4500 South. When changes in development, growth and new federal wetlands use regulations along the parkway made it necessary to update the plan, the city contracted with Utah State University, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.
The new master plan was born.
Knowing that it would need nourishment from more than just city officials, volunteers were enlisted. The mayor and council established a Parks and Recreation Board, which last year held meetings to discuss the project. Informal neighborhood meetings have been held in each council district to solicit formal public input.
Several Murray citizens have even rolled up their sleeves to help.
Students attending Bonneyview Alternative School pulled weeds, raked and transplanted plants along the river earlier this month. During an Earth Day observance, more than 300 people participated in a cleanup of the parkway area - which will do more than allow people to recreate.
"It will be avenue for controlling non-point source pollution which results from storm drain runoff from our city streets and businesses. At the present time it serves as a drain for about 4 miles of I-215, east of Fashion Place Mall," Pett said. "The golf course provides a series of filtering ponds and wetlands areas for the water that runs into the Jordan River. This same water is used to irrigate the golf course."
On Nov. 13, the Murray City Council is scheduled to adopt the master plan, which to date has cost Murray citizens little - and given the city much recognition.
During the past six weeks, Pett has taken private citizens and government officials from around the state on tours of his pet project. Soon he hopes to show off the development to legislators.
"We want to get everyone involved," Pett said. "It's a much bigger project than Murray alone. It needs the support to the other cities, the county and the state - if it's to be really successful."