Tucked away on page 52 of the Utah Legislature's 55-page, $85.3 million new bonding bill is a provision that gives West Valley City the shoreline and a pivotal role at Decker Lake.
City officials view the authorization as the most significant development toward developing a Decker Lake park in almost 20 years and say the community is poised to move ahead."It certainly is high on our list of priorities, but it won't be an easy task," said West Valley Mayor Brent F. Anderson.
Among other tasks, the responsibilities of various interested government agencies must be clearly defined, the 32.5-acre natural lake - which is used as a flood-control basin - must be dredged, and money must be found for the park project, the mayor explained.
But the legislative action clears the way for the process to begin and for West Valley to take the lead. "It's the first step," Anderson said.
The bonding bill directs the Division of Facilities Construction and Management to give West Valley up to 30 feet of the shoreline "to improve and enhance Decker Lake as the city considers appropriate."
The lake itself is owned by Salt Lake County and the adjacent property belongs to the state, which acquired it for development of the Decker Lake Youth Center and other youth corrections facilities. When plans for additional facilities were abandoned, the state property beyond the Youth Center was declared surplus.
Fifteen acres of surplus land, not including the shoreline, may be sold and the proceeds used to buy land elsewhere for youth corrections, according to the bonding bill.
West Valley has been promoting the park idea as a way of cleaning up what has become an embarrassing eyesore at the "gateway" to the city along I-215 at 2700 South. Failed development attempts by other agencies left behind a dilapidated picnic pavilion, rotting boat dock and the scorched ruins of restrooms.
Kathy Bugg Riley, the city's business development specialist, said the city has been approached by several civic, business and citizen groups wishing to contribute to the Decker Lake project. Riley, who has been coordinating the city's efforts, said a "Do Decker Lake" campaign that began in area schools has increased community interest.
The Valley West Chamber of Commerce has established a Decker Lake Committee to consider various ideas for the park and study suggestions for development of a hotel nearby, Riley said. Conscious of the vandalism that destroyed the old facilities, the group will also address access and security concerns, she added.
Meanwhile, Salt Lake County public works officials are planning to submit requests for proposals for sediment removal, and the city is preparing applications for grants offered by government and private foundations.
Also, a church group with more than 400 members has offered to help clean up and repair the pavilion if the state decides to include the structure in the land transfer.