American Fork voters approve park improvement bond

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    By Faye Vergara

    American Fork voters approved a $3.2 million bond Feb. 4 to improve parks in their city.

    The money will go towards the 27 parks in the area by improving playground equipment, automatic watering systems and restrooms.

    “It”s very much needed,” said Janet Hicken, the secretary at American Fork Recreation center.

    Although the parks vary in age, most have been around for 20 to 25 years.

    “I”ve been trying to get it done for years, said Steve Bailey, director of the American Fork Recreation Center.

    “Some of the equipment is as old as the parks.”

    Some of the parks have been lacking basic accommodations since they were built.

    “We have employees turning on the sprinklers in the mornings, instead of having automatic watering systems,” Bailey said.

    The money will finance tree and shrub landscaping, as well as the construction of a skate park and 127 new park benches and 133 picnic tables.

    “This will help,” Hicken said. “As well as picnic areas and things for neighborhood kids to play on.”

    Although approximately 8 percent of registered voters went to the polls on Tuesday, the issue passed with 639 voting for the bond and 384 against.

    “It was disappointing in the number of people who did vote,” said Carl Wanlass, American Fork city administrator. “In special elections, there”s at least 15 percent who vote. What hurt this one were two things. First, there was general support because they think it”s going to pass anyways, and the weather was bad that morning.”

    Once the improvements have been completed, residents will be able to reserve spots for family reunions or other social functions at more than one park.

    “Right now, we only have one park that we reserve for things like family reunions,” Hicken said. “There are lots of parks, but only one with a bathroom facility so that”s the only one we rent out. When it is all finished we should have at least five or six.”

    City officials had considered improvements for the park two years ago.

    “The improvements have been needed for years,” Wanlass said. “It”s been one of the biggest concerns of the public. That”s the area I”ve received the most phone calls on from the public as to when the city will upgrade its parks.”

    Officials hope to receive help from residents in the area.

    “They”re going to put together a volunteer program,” Wanlass said. “It”s kind of a difficult thing to do with these type of improvements in that there”s so much that needs to be done. It requires warranty work and specialty type work that generally a lot of people can”t get involved in, but things such as laying sod or planting trees, raking, they can do.”

    Park improvements are projected to start this summer once plans are finalized.

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