Hoping to land a federal grant to build a new municipal building, the Fruit Heights City Council has declared the city's Nicholls Park to be a blighted area.

The park, across from the Davis County golf course, was developed by the county and given to Fruit Heights three years ago.The council declared it blighted last week, hoping the designation will help it get $135,000 in federal community development block grant funding. The grant funds only go to areas that are blighted or to aid low-income residents.

With one of the highest per capita incomes in the county, city officials decided the project would not fit under the low-income criteria and so decided to declare the park a blighted area.

Mayor Blaine Nelson explained that "we're not saying our beautiful park is blighted, but that it is blighted by definition."

Legally, the park fits the description of a blighted area, the mayor said, citing factors of poor design, deterioration and disuse of park facilities, inadequate sanitation facilities and damage suffered in the 1983 floods.

The south end of the park, fronting a creek, suffered flood damage that year and now, according to the mayor, people use it for a dumping ground.

The city is applying for $135,000 in grant funds to build a new municipal building and community center, planning to match the grant with $150,000 to $200,000 of city funds.

The grants are administered through the Davis Council of Governments and Fruit Heights will be competing with the rest of the cities in the county for the funds.

A decision on distribution of the grant money will be made by a COG committee in March.