The voters of Salt Lake County approved a $90 million park bond in November 2016 that will provide county residents of all ages with new and improved opportunities to engage in health-enhancing recreational activities. The measure, which includes $59 million for 11 new recreation developments, and $31 million for 85 separate maintenance and improvement projects at existing parks and facilities, will help to update and modernize recreation opportunities, including walking, biking and rolling trails in a variety of communities.
Voters favored Proposition A by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent. In endorsing the Proposition, the Salt Lake Tribune, the state’s largest newspaper, noted that the funding measure had wide buy-in from a diverse array of stakeholders in the region.
“The money is spread to parks throughout the valley, and it’s spread throughout the ever-expanding spectrum of what county residents want to do for recreation,” the paper’s editorial board wrote.
One of the walking and biking trails that will be funded as a result of the successful referendum will be the $1.65 million White City/Sandy Trail, which will provide a paved trail for walking and biking along an abandoned canal that will connect to a number of other regional trails.
“Proposition A is a great step forward in creating more opportunities for bicycling, walking, and healthy lifestyles in general,” says Phil Sarnoff , executive director of Bike Utah, one of the proposition’s champions. “Along the Wasatch Front, safe places for bicycling and walking is often the most requested enhancements sought by citizens. Proposition A helps to create additional connections that will get us to an interconnected active transportation and recreation network.”
The health benefits of regular physical activity such as walking and bicycling are well known. The activities can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and other chronic diseases. Regular exercise, made possible by the opportunities that trails and bike lanes create, not only benefit youth by helping them develop lifelong-healthy habits, they also benefit older adults through improved mental outlook and an increased chance of remaining independent longer.
“As a result of the passage of Proposition A, more than one-million Utahans will have safe, local access to walking, biking and rolling trails in their communities” says Marc Watterson, director of government relations with the American Heart Association in Utah. “Portions of the funds will also be set aside for the creation of ADA compliant swings, slides and other amenities to ensure that children and citizens of all ages and abilities are able to engage in healthy, wholesome recreational activities.”
Watterson says that the Salt Lake County Council deserves special acknowledgement for prioritizing the projects and for ensuring that Salt Lake County citizens throughout the valley have access to state-of-the-art recreational amenities.