After several years and the expenditure of millions of dollars, much of the 130-mile Provo Jordan River Parkway is still on the drawing board as further development of the scenic corridor from the Uinta Mountains to the Great Salt Lake awaits funding.
While some government officials support the parkway and feel it will be popular once completed, others feel too much money has been spent acquiring land for the project - money that could have been better spent elsewhere.Total expenditures to date on the parkway in Utah County total nearly $4 million, including state money to acquire land and Utah County's matching funds, labor and materials to install fences, culverts, drainage systems and other parkway amenities.
The holdup on parkway development, according to Utah County Engineer Clyde Naylor, is that the Legislature has allocated no money for the past two years.
A revised Central Utah Project spending bill being prepared by Utah's congressional delegation, however, could breathe new life into parkway development.
Matt Durham, congressional aide to Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, said the proposal earmarks $2 million for fishing and boating access around Utah Lake, $1.6 million for wetlands acquisition along the Jordan River and $750,000 for "Jordan River repairing zone rehabilitation."
The bill doesn't specifically set aside funding for the parkway, but "I think it's reasonable to assume some will be spent on Jordan River Parkway development," Durham said. The money, however, wouldn't be available until 1990.
Members of a Central Utah Project mitigation and conservation commission, to be appointed by President Reagan, would determine how much money will go toward the parkway, Durham said.
Naylor said $450,000 is needed to complete the parkway in Utah County, including the partially completed Provo River Walkway and several parks along the lower Provo River and the Jordan River, between the north shore of Utah Lake and the Jordan River Narrows.
"It's a good idea if you have a population as big as New York City or Los Angeles," Utah County Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck said. "The idea behind it really isn't bad for future use. But the growth of the county isn't ready for it. The use of it really isn't there."
Officials erred by not concentrating on developing specific parkway portions in Utah County and by spending exorbitant amounts of money on land, Beck said. Instead, officials should have completed parkway areas that already are popular - including the Provo River Walkway through Provo Canyon and Inlet Park on the north shore of Utah Lake, he said.
An additional $10,000 is needed to complete Inlet Park, which is already a popular fishing area. Picnic areas, restrooms and running water will be available as soon as officials come up with $10,000.
"You've got a park that's really unavailable to use," Beck said. "That's the bad thing about it."
He said money could have been used to finish Inlet Park, rather than to buy all the land needed to extend the parkway path eight miles north to the Jordan River Narrows. The walkway, though completed, is not open to the public. Two other parks, Willow and Wetlands, are partially completed.
Adding to problems, he said, is the county's inability to police the area.
"They shouldn't have taken a broad-scale approach to the parkway before they knew how to finish it," Beck said. "They should have just developed the major parks to make sure (the parks) would be usable when they ran out of money."
That might have been a good idea, but land acquisition early in the parkway's development was essential because of rising real estate costs, said Lyle Bennett, supervisor of the state Division of Parks and Rec-reation River Enhancement Programs. In 1986, the Legislature placed the parkway under the Parks Division.
"It's been kind of piecemeal, there's no doubt about it," he said. But state officials placed priority on obtaining land rather than completing particular portions of the parkway. Land needed for the parkway is becoming increasingly expensive and difficult to buy, Bennett said.
"That's kind of a concern now along areas near the Provo River in Orem. There's a reluctance to allow the corridor to go through there," he said.
According to a legislative analyst's report, Bennett said, the state has spent $11.4 million on the parkway. Local governments have spent $2.7 million, and the federal government $2.8 million from a federal land and water conservation fund.
Cost of parkway land in Utah County has ranged from $1,000 per acre for 15 acres purchased from Salt Lake City to $5,500 per acre for 20 acres purchased from the late Rep. Merrill Fox.
Naylor admits there has been a "wide disparity of price" between the county's appraisal of land and private appraisals, and that some parcels cost more than they should have. The original $975,000 budget for land has been exceeded so far by about $31,000.
Naylor said the county has purchased all land needed for the parkway between the north end of Utah Lake and the Jordan Narrows except for a 4.1-acre section on the east side of the Jordan River.
Naylor said work on the parkway in Utah County began in earnest in 1984 with the Jordan River dredging. Because some wetlands areas were damaged after being covered with muck dredged from the river, he said, Utah County must spend an additional $22,000 for wetlands development.
Bennett said substantial work also has been done on the parkway in Salt Lake City, from 10th North to 21st South, and Murray has purchased a lot of land for parkway development. In addition, some land has been purchased between Deer Creek Reservoir and the Jordenelle development.
"It's certainly going to be worthwhile. But with the present budget restraints and the demand for educating our young people, it's anybody's guess when the state will have resources to pursue the program except on a piecemeal basis," Bennett said.