A joint effort by Utah County and Payson city officials may have helped bring one of the city's oldest landmarks, its racetrack, "up to speed."
According to Payson Racing Association President Steve Bona, both the county and city helped haul more than 2,500 cubic yards of sand to the Payson Downs racetrack, an effort that may have saved the non-profit organization $10,000. The agencies provided sand from reserve landfill materials, such as those used for road repairs."It would have been quite a cost if we'd had to hire a private contractor," Bona said.
The track is used daily by at least 100 horses as well as their riders and trainers, making it the most used track in the state, Bona said. However, that use does not include horse-racing events, which have declined dramatically over the years.
That decline may have come with the popularity of Evanston's Wyoming Downs events, but if the group has its way, more events could be coming to Payson Downs, he said.
"We held only one race last year, on Labor Day. A few years ago we were holding five annually. We hope to have two this year, and add more later if we can."
However, such increased usage could take its toll on the track, which was established near the turn of the century by a local doctor, L.D. Stewart. Already, the organization is doing its best to aid the track, which the city actually owns, he said.
The association is also planning to install an $18,000 sprinkling system to water the track, anoption that will include taking advantage of the city's pressurized irrigation system, which is under construction.
Bona praised the efforts of Utah County Commissioner Richard Johnson, Mayor Richard Harmer and the City Council to aid his organization at every turn.
"Every time we've needed aid, these officials have been very helpful," he said.
The organization receives its funding from a portion of the proceeds the city obtains from stall-rental fees and training facility usage fees. In addition to Bona, other members of the group include Jack Walker, vice president; Jim Duane, secretary; and board members Terry DeGraw, Alvey Henline and Barry Clark.