The Utah County Council of Governments, an organization comprised of the county commissioners and local mayors, wants to join forces with Utah Valley Community College to build a combination physical education building/community center.
It's a golden opportunity to piggyback two needed projects, and it deserves the support of Utah County residents.The Board of Regents has listed construction of a $10 million physical education facility at UVCC as a top priority and will seek planning money from the 1991 Legislature.
For another $7.5 million, the facility could be expanded into a community events center.
The Utah County Commission has indicated it is willing to hold a general obligation bond election on the proposal this spring. Voters will be asked to OK issuing the bonds and raising taxes to repay them.
In order to raise $7.5 million, the owner of a home with a tax value of $80,000 would have to pay about $9.42 more per year in property taxes for 15 years.
Presently, businesses and groups in Utah County face this dilemma: There are places to meet that are small and places to meet that are large, but nowhere that is just right for a medium-size crowd.
For example, the Seven Peaks Excelsior Hotel can accommodate groups ranging from 700 to 900 people. Some local high school auditoriums can handle as many as 2,000 people.
The Marriott Center at Brigham Young University seats 23,000; however, the center is too large for some groups, is well-used by BYU and is not available for many non-university functions.
Because of these size limitations, some Utah County businesses end up traveling to Salt Lake City to hold meetings and gatherings.
It is also likely that many events held in Salt Lake City, such as circus performances, truck pulls, professional sport exhibits and concerts, might be scheduled in Utah County if it had an adequate events center.
The joint proposal by the Council of Governments and UVCC is similar to what UVCC proposed this summer in its bid for an Olympic venue.
The center would have up to 8,500 seats and could be used for the county fair, conventions, concerts, business meetings, etc.
UVCC would use the building primarily in the daytime for physical education classes. However, the college would work with other groups that wanted to use the facility during the daytime.
The building would be owned and maintained by UVCC. A board of directors made up of college representatives, local government leaders and members of the community would oversee scheduling of the building. Unlike the Olympic proposal, control of the facility would be local.
UVCC's location is also a big plus for a community center: The college is centrally located in the valley and is within easy access of I-15.
UVCC is going to build a physical education facility within the next few years regardless of what happens to the community center proposal.
However, it is unlikely a community center will ever be built without being connected to the project.
Utah County residents have the opportunity to build a center that will meet both the community's and the college's needs for years to come.
The Council of Governments proposal deserves their support.