Plans for a park at Decker Lake took a giant half-step forward during the 1991 legislative session, leaving West Valley officials closer than they have been in years to achieving their goal.
Language of intent that would allow the Utah Division of Facilities Construction and Management to deed shoreline property to the city "at no cost" was included in this year's bonding bill, which was stalled by unrelated controversies on the final day of the session.Patrick Hayes, the division's assistant director, said this week that the language likely will be adopted along with a bonding bill when the Legislature is called back into special session in April.
Efforts by West Valley officials to improve the Decker Lake site along I-215 at 2700 South have been impeded by that city's lack of property rights. The state owns most of the land around the 32.5-acre lake, and Salt Lake County owns the lake itself.
The state bought the land for a youth corrections facility and freeway development. The county uses the lake for flood control purposes, which has resulted in the lake nearly filling up with storm drain sediments.
Hayes said the state doesn't need additional land for the youth corrections facility. "And after looking carefully at what is being proposed (by West Valley), we felt it was appropriate to dispose of the land as suggested," Hayes added.
The bonding bill would give West Valley up to 30 feet of the shoreline land and possibly the existing picnic pavilion "as determined by negotiations." Also, the remaining surplus state land would be sold, with the proceeds going toward future youth corrections projects, Hayes said.
The pavilion, a rotting boat dock and the scorched ruins of restrooms are all that is left of an attempt to develop a park at Decker Lake in the early 1970s. Vandals burned the restrooms, and the other facilities - which were built at a cost of about $500,000 - were abandoned and allowed to deteriorate.
Kathy Bugg Riley, the city's business development specialist who has been coordinating the efforts to improve Decker Lake, said the legislation will give West Valley land it needs to proceed with the park plans.
Those plans call for a "xeriscape" environment - to maintain the natural appeal of the lake - jogging and walking trails, picnic facilities, parking areas and possibly a ball field. Riley said the city will apply for federal grants to help with the estimated $3 million cost of the project.
Also, city officials hope the county will appropriate funding in its next budget to dredge the lake. Once six feet deep or more, the lake now is only inches deep in some places.
County Public Works Director Lonnie Johnson said last month that the county endorses the concept of a Decker Lake park and that the dredging will be done when funds become available.
Riley said the improvement of Decker Lake is one of the city's top economic development priorities.