Before Rocky was mayor our city had fine parks. Liberty Park, my own neighborhood park, was a treasure but like many city facilities it was falling apart.
The Seven Canyons fountain was closed because it didn’t have a filtration system that met health standards for children to play in it. The Issac Chase Home was closed, the row of giant cottonwoods was facing disease and decay, the Chase mill building was vacant and falling apart, the bicycle path was potholed and crowded, the concession building was an old shack, and springs were fenced off. It was a nice park but it was decaying.
Rocky arrived determined to improve our parks and open space and embarked on a program of capital improvements. The Seven Canyons fountain runs filled with happy children all Summer. We have a new fancy concrete grade separated bike path and separate jogging path. There is a new concessions building and a restored Youth City program building. There is a new playground thanks to Utah’s Rotarians. The restored Chase Home is an expanded museum of Utah Folk Art. Fences have come down and water features are restored. The Tracy Aviary has expanded and updated exhibits and habitat.
Fairmont Park and Jordan Park have seen upgrades and additions, too, as have many smaller parks. Gilgal garden has been protected with a permanent easement.Â We have an open space fund that will soon be adding parks in neighborhoods like mine. The North Salt Lake watershed property in the foothills is being preserved. And a giant makeover for Pioneer Park is getting started.
Best of all, we have an entirely new city park on Library Square downtown that hosts the Salt Lake City Arts Festival and plenty of space for concerts, parties, or reading out in the sun on sunny Summer afternoons. It is the last open space we’re likely to get downtown and Rocky had to fight hard to get the Council to preserve it instead of privatizing it for development.
Not all the advances are due to Rocky alone. The city council adopted new capital improvement goals in the budget, the Olympics and Rotarians contributed, and the people voted new bonding for zoo and aviary improvements. But Rocky has been the leader making urban outdoor life better in Salt Lake City and we all enjoy it.