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Richard Piatt ReportingSalt Lake City's Pioneer Park is once again taking center stage as part of an overall downtown revitalization effort. A proposal costing up to 7 million dollars to improve the park is just now starting to make waves in the city.
For a lot of people, Pioneer Park's best features are overshadowed by a seedy reputation. Changing that image will be tough and Mayor Rocky Anderson is taking on a plan he says both he and citizens want.
Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City Mayor: “Cities, to a very large extent, can be defined by the kinds of parks and open space that they have.”
A sketch shows a park with an ice skating rink, a dog run, volleyball and basketball courts, room for baci ball, shows, and structures to augment the summer farmer's market. The ideas are a springboard to sell to the general public and city council.
The mayor's proposed changes for Pioneer Park are at least as dramatic as the changes made at Liberty Park over the last few years. During that time the city has spent around 8-million dollars. The only difference is the request for money for Pioneer Park is coming at a time when the budget is extremely tight.
Liberty Park's driveways are brand new, it's grass watered by a new irrigation system. But most importantly, there are new features--like a playground--people love, and say are well worth the investment.
Steve Lindsay, Park Visitor: “Just to look and see the kids’ reactions to it, it’s remarkable.”
Pioneer Park's largest use is the Saturday Farmer's Market in the summer. The rest of the year, it is not a gathering place for a large number of people.
Across the street at Tony Caputo's market, there are strong feelings about the park. Tony himself says he wants improvements, but within limits.
Tony Caputo: “I’d hat to see pavement. I’d hate to see green space turn into something that’s not green space.”
Those concerns and more are also on the minds of decision makers at the city council, who will be asking serious questions about how many millions it will take to re-vamp Pioneer Park.
Because of the tight budget, improvements to Pioneer Park will probably not be possible until next year at the earliest.