• BEST IN STATE—Senior Courtney Schoen Lewis was named Best PR Student in Utah. Story

Equestrian arena should be a Paradise reality, come spring

October 21st, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By D. Whitney Smith

PARADISE — Horseback riding and roping are activities many residents already enjoy, and next spring a new equestrian arena, part of a long-term park project, will provide a central place for them.

Mayor Leland Howlett and the Town Council met Wednesday in council chambers with Jason Summers, committee chair for the ongoing park and equestrian arena project, to discuss the most recent developments on the project, which started about six years ago.

“I don’t think any of it’s been particularly easy,” Howlett said. “I mean the land acquisition kind of fell into our lap — parts of it we had our eye on for years — we didn’t anticipate picking up the whole entire 14 or 15 acres.”

Price negotiations for the property, which is on the southeast corner of Paradise town limits, took some time, Howlett said, and originally the council considered a smaller 5-acre parcel that would’ve included only the equestrian arena.

“In ‘05 the previous town council and mayor had proposed putting an arena in up by the cemetery — on property that the town owned,” he said. “And the county had awarded us $100,000 RAPZ tax money, but some of the members of the community that lived around there didn’t believe they wanted an equestrian park next to them.”

The Cache County Restaurant and RAPZ Tax Program, voted into action in November 2002, combines tax dollars from restaurants with a portion of sales tax — one-tenth of 1 percent — to benefit county municipalities by funding community improvements that increase the cultural, artistic, botanical and other aesthetic qualities of county towns and cities. RAPZ stands for recreation, arts, parks and zoos.

Howlett said when Cache County Council approved funding for the equestrian arena in 2005, homeowners near the land “raised a stink.” Funding was put on hold until the town council could find a different location. In September 2010, Paradise purchased the 15-acre property and plans are now officially underway, he added.

“We have to provide parks and things for everybody outside of Paradise city limits,” said Kyle Smith, Paradise council member, “and our parks get used and impacted so much we felt like there was a need, long term, to provide park space for years to come. To find a piece of property that was that big, we felt like it was the right property purchase, long term, for our needs.”

The entire project could take five to seven years, according to Smith, and Howlett said additions to the park could happen even 20 years from now. But, Smith said, the immediate goal is to get started on the equestrian arena, so local 4-H youth groups and other local horse enthusiasts have a legitimate place to ride their horses.

“Initially we’re focusing on the equestrian area,” Summers said. “And then when we get that finished we can focus on soccer fields and baseball fields, then playground equipment and walking path — we have a whole list of things we’re working on.”

Summers said the park committee he chairs consists of about 20 members. He said any and all Paradise residents are encouraged and welcome to offer suggestions regarding what they’d like to see happen with the park.

The current park plans include the equestrian arena, two softball fields, three soccer fields — Howlett said most local children are avid soccer players — and two parking lots. Summers said basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a skate park, a Frisbee golf area and a splash pad are other ideas under consideration.

“I believe in the project,” Summers said, “that’s why I got involved initially. I have three young kids that will hopefully be able to use the park, if we can get it done the next few years.”

The next step agreed upon by the town council and the park committee is installing the base layer material for the arena. The council agreed to partner to trade topsoil with Logan for the base layer material.

After the base material is in place, the arena’s perimeter structure will be installed, which will consist of panels that Smith has spent the last few months comparing prices on. Smith said the total price of the park, based on a rough estimate, could cost as much as $600,000, which is why it will take several years to finish due to the relatively small size of Paradise’s budget.

“The ultimate goal,” Summers said, “is for each member of the community to have something that they can benefit from, whether it’s soccer, baseball, horses, even a walking path, splash pad or playground equipment — one central area where everybody can go and find something that they are interested in or they can use.”


Tags: , ,

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.