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Two new city parks planned for Hyrum this year, mayor says

January 28th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

By Rhett Wilkinson

HYRUM–Plans for two new parks and a fire station, a dog pound, solar panels for the library and a national award for a sewer manager were the highlights of the second-ever State of the City address Thursday. The event was hosted by the Hyrum Lions Club. Before a crowd of 21, Mayor Dean Howard addressed key issues from 2010 in the Cache Valley town that had a population of 7,600 last year.

Perhaps the news that caused the greatest buzz was the word on the upcoming development of Salt Hollow Park. The park, which according to Councilman Martin Felix will be located within 100 and 300 North streets on Hyrum’s west end, is slated to include a pond, picnic tables, restrooms and a “splashpad” similar to the one that has been popular since its construction at the Gateway Mall in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Lions Club president Mike Larsen, who has lived in Hyrum his entire life, was excited at the prospect of a new recreational area. “I think it will be fun,” Larsen said. “This water fountain they’re building will only make it bigger.”

One of the attractions of Salt Hollow Park will be a sleigh-riding hill. According to Felix, the hill will be 30 feet tall, and will satisfy the many young families that live in the city.

“My grandkids will love that one,” Larsen said of the appeal of the man-made slope.

Felix was grateful to have the opportunity to pay back the Hyrum residents with something that is recreational and fun. “We were glad to have the opportunity to provide something like this for the community,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice addition.”

No additional tax will be required in order to build the park, since the Hyrum City Council obtained a $50,000 RAPZ tax grant for its construction. Cache Valley RAPZ (Recreation, Arts, Parks, Zoos) revenue helps fund public areas.

The other park, located on the east end of town, will be known as Blacksmith Park. While its features are more limited than Salt Hollow, it will have a duel-purpose retention basin that will also serve as a soccer field during the warm-weather seasons. Howard suggested that if there is an adequate amount of frozen water in the retention basin during the winter, it could also serve as an ice rink.

Howard said that a “unique” feature of Blacksmith Park will be a dog run that will allow for the pets’ owners to let their canines run loose within a designated area.

The new fire station doesn’t yet have a groundbreaking date, but in concern that citizens would wonder why a new station would be needed, Howard said that it helps for insurance purposes. “We’re right on the edge of what keeps our insurance low,” he said. Howard further explained that a new station will eventually lead to a cut in higher insurance that is currently associated with the present Hyrum station.

The volunteer-based city will also have its first-ever luxury of having a dog pound. The facility is planned to be near the current sewer plant. Howard had his reasons for why the pound would be located by an often-undesirable building.

“We felt like any other place will be disturbing neighbors,” he said. “Barking dogs aren’t the nicest things to be around sometimes.”

Larsen heartily agreed. He said when his children were younger, all stray dogs were taken to his house, whether that meant as a member of the fire station, or as a father of curious children. He even related one story when his 10-year-old son took eight stray puppies to the Larsen home.

The Library Solar Panel Project is another special attribute to the city, as officials continue to work to add solar panels to the town library’s roof. Felix said that the project is unique in that it is the largest metro solar-provided system in the state.
He says that the great size is simply due to the fact that they were offered enough financially to support such an endeavor. “The state was willing to give us that much, so we were willing to put it in,” he said.

However, Felix said that having the solar panels, which help support a library that was third in Cache County for most checked-out items in 2010, are not all fun and games. The city only gained $57 from it in December, though Felix said he and the council estimate that figure could rise to $1,600 per month during the warm-weather months.

Final key news was that Kevin Maughan, who operates sewer management for the city. Maughan received the Enviroquip National Operator of the Year award, which recognizes the best sewer manager in the United States annually. Larsen, a longtime friend of Maughan’s, said that the award was well-deserved.

“He’s one of those guys that reads something and remembers it forever,” Larsen said. “He can teach something once, and knows it the rest of his life. It’s a real gift.”

Other notes from the State of the City address:

— Eight housing complexes remain in construction. However, due to the economy, Elk Mountain Residencies will not receive further work for one year.

— A road widening project will take place, at 500 North and 600 West. The purpose is to allow for two large vehicles to pass each other simultaneously.

— Hyrum’s cash reserve was just above $5 million in 2010, its highest since 2003. When asked by an attendant how the city council was able to accomplish such a feat in the midst of the recession, Cpouncilman Brent Jensen said “we’ve taken in more than we’ve spent.”

— A new 2 million-gallon culinary water reservoir is under construction.

— A new water reuse system is being constructed. Howard said it has a payback of $4,000 per month and will eventually pay for itself.

— Security cameras have been installed at the recycling center.

— Hyrum’s tax revenues are comprised of 53 percent sales tax, 22 percent property tax, and 19 percent energy tax. “Fee in lieu” and franchise tax comprise the remaining 6 percent.

— The city has the fifth highest income tax rate in Cache County.

— Sales taxed peaked at an all-time city high at $3.3 million in 2009, but dropped to approximately $3 million since.

— The city has recently bought a new fire truck, replacing one that Howard said contained several hazards if it needed to take a sharp, fast turn.


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