By Marianne Holman
A large open field on the west side of Provo, currently filled with holes and piles of dirt, is the future home of a new park, after a trade for the land adjacent to what was formerly Joaquin Elementary School.
Plans for the Harbor Park area, located just west of Geneva road near Utah Lake, began after a land swap between the city of Provo and the Provo School District.
?The fact that we needed property for a park, and that the school district had property available ? this land swap became just a win-win for both parties,? said Wayne Parker, chief administrative officer for the city of Provo.
The Joaquin land has been purchased by developers and will be turned into student housing. In order to sell that land, the school district had to acquire a strip of the property, which was owned by the city. In return for this piece of land, the district gave the city 9 acres of Harbor Park, adjacent to a planned elementary school.
Although many of the residents have used the Joaquin field as a neighborhood park, the area was never designated as a city park. According to city officials the trade was not intended to replace the lost open space; the fact that the land the city acquired is planned park space is coincidental.
?There are probably people in that [Joaquin] vicinity that may have looked at that school as a park,? said Roger Thomas, director of parks and recreation for Provo City. ?It was never a city park, you don?t find it on the city plan anywhere. It wasn?t even Provo City?s land.?
Although considered a win-win for the parties directly involved in the trade, many residents of the Joaquin area are unhappy with the loss of recreational space.
?Somewhere in the neighborhood that green space needs to be replaced by our city,? said Kurt Peterson, neighborhood chair for the Joaquin area. ?I?m really hoping and working toward some kind of a solution for that.?
In an effort to make up for the loss of open space, the city plans to work with already existing parks and open areas in the Joaquin area. The city plans to do this through additional development of Memorial Park and Farrer Elementary school, said Parker.
It is not just families in the area that will miss Joaquin?s field.
?If you go to the park on any Saturday there are always people playing Frisbee, running around or doing some sort of activity in the park,? said Ashley Bruya, a BYU junior from Colfax, Wash., majoring in chemistry. ?It is going to be a huge loss for the neighborhood.?