The west side of Salt Lake County has fewer recreational facilities than any other county district, but the east side may have proportionally greater needs because of population density, according to a study presented to the County Board of Parks and Recreation.
The West District (west of I-15 between 21st and 62nd South) is deficient in several areas - basketball, tennis and racquetball courts, swimming pools, tracks and ball diamonds. However, said Mike Peterson, associate director of Salt Lake County Division of Parks and Recreation, those figures do not tell the entire story."The point is, where one side is deficient in one area, they might be ahead in another," said Peterson. Considering the demographics and other data from the area, the East District (east of I-15 between 21st and 82nd South) would actually be more deficient than the West, he said.
The "Long-Range Sports Plan" compares an inventory of county recreational facilities with national standards and local demographics. The Sports Advisory Board, which researched the study, makes recommendations to the board about what additional facilities are needed and where.
"It's obviously a little bit of a wish list," said Peterson. The study will serve as a guide in setting priorities.
The committee suggests the county construct a multipurpose complex and increase the number of baseball and softball diamonds, quarter-mile tracks, swimming pools and gymnasiums in the county.
Also included in the plan was analysis from a recent public questionnaire. The survey indicated residents feel the need for additional recreational facilities in the county. Most frequently mentioned was swimming pools, followed by multisports complexes, fitness facilities, basketball courts, tennis courts and ball diamonds. The plan recommends that the board give priority to the facilities residents most desire.
Residents also indicated in the survey they strongly support the offering of sports programs for the disabled, and the committee that engineered the study also recommends that the county establish such programs.
"There's no question that valley residents support quality recreational services, but the question is how do we pay for it," Peterson said.
According to the survey, residents highly favor a user fee or use of existing taxes as opposed to any new tax. But Peterson said such funds will only cover the cost of running the programs and facilities, not construction costs.
To get the quantity and quality of recreation facilities desired in the county, Peterson said a bond needs to be passed to finance the plan. He doesn't believe, however, that county residents are prepared to pass a bond election at this time because of other financial burdens.
"But two to four years from now, it's critical that something be done to provide more recreational facilities, for the youth especially," he said.
Peterson said one of the high priorities of the county department is to develop joint agreements with cities and school districts. Opening school facilities to the public after school hours, for example, has proved very cost-efficient, he said. "I can rent 30 gyms for 30 years with the money it would take to build one gym."
The inventory of sports facilities in each county division also indicates that the East District is deficient in the number of multisports complexes, tennis and racquetball courts, swimming pools and softball diamonds and encourages the board to give that district highest priority when additional facilities are considered.
The committee also recommends that the Salt Lake District (north of 21st South) receive the highest priority if the county decides to construct more volleyball and racquetball courts, gymnasiums or quarter-mile tracks.
It was determined that the South District (west of I-15 south of 62nd South and east of I-15 south of 84th South) is deficient in the number of multisports complexes and gymnasiums and should receive first priority if the county should decide to construct more.