Mayor DeLore Thurgood says it's time to repair and reopen the road across the Great Salt Lake to Antelope Island, now that it has started to surface from the depths of the once flood-level waters.
"It might appear this is flying in the face of the tax-limitation movement, but if we pull our neck in and say we don't want to spend money to increase our tax base, that's wrong, too," Thurgood said.In a meeting with Davis County legislators last week, Thurgood lobbied for the $4.5 million it would take to repair the 8-mile roadway - a project that could bring in about $14 million in tourism each year.
Syracuse is the jumping off point for the causeway, which extends across the Great Salt Lake and curves southwest to Antelope Island.
"Funding is a big problem right now," Thurgood said. "And just because we've got by the tax-limitation initiatives doesn't mean we go hog wild, but if we pull our necks in and we don't attempt to expand our tax base, I think we're asking for a tax increase in the future.
"We've got to find some way to get some out-of-state money imported here," the mayor said.
Officials of the state Division of Parks and Recreation agree the state is losing tourist dollars while the causeway is unusable and Antelope Island remains closed.
One million people visited the island before the causeway closed in 1984 and many of those visitors brought out-of-state dollars to Utah, parks officials said.
To bring in tourist dollars again, the division has submitted an $11 million bonding request to repair the roadway and restore facilities damaged by the lake's rise.
Jerry Hover of the Division of Parks and Recreation said the bonding request includes money to repair Antelope Island recreation facilities and raise the causeway 6 feet to the 4,211-foot level to keep it from being submerged again.
The division also is trying to find financing from other sources such as federal highway funds and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he said.
Should the Legislature come through with funding in its next session, Hover said, the causeway and island work would likely take all next summer to complete and may not open until 1990.
Rep. Scott Holt, R-Syracuse, said it's too early to tell whether lawmakers will take up the bonding request in their 1989 session.
The proposal has been discussed by Davis County legislators, but not much beyond that, he said.