City Council puts playground plans on hold

Friday, December 11, 2020

Alta City Council discussed the city’s proposed playground project at the Dec. 7th meeting. Alta Park Board Chair Heidi Reetz submitted an updated proposal from ABCreative with the cost of $89,192 which includes installation and equipment. The park board will prepare the site ahead of time and has plans to install additional lighting near the park for security and liability purposes, Reetz said.

She reminded council that if the playground is not approved by Dec. 21st, they will lose the grant this year, and the playground cost increases by 6% each year.

Reetz described the proposed playground which is designed for ages 5-12 to include climbing components, a mommy-and-me swing, step platform for the younger kids, and an instrumental component on which children can make noises which helps with sensory learning.

Some council members are concerned about the cost of a new playground, saying infrastructure projects should be a city priority instead. In addition, they know of residents who are opposed to the city funding a new playground.

Others on council believe a new playground is essential. “We as a city need to make sure we have a playground for our kids,” Council Member Pam Henderson said. She has seen large groups of young people using the city park. “Don’t tell me kids don’t use the equipment because they do,” she said. Reetz agrees. “My feeling is that we need a park besides relying on the school,” she said.

After discussion, the consensus was that before voting, council members would feel more comfortable knowing how the funds will be divided from the joint city and PTO fund which is still undetermined. Reetz said she was told by members of the school district’s playground committee that when the PTO fund reaches $30,000, the remainder of the money will be donated to the city for its playground.

“There could potentially be nothing above $30,000,” Alta City Clerk Megan Peterson said. “I think we need to communicate with the schools more,” Mayor Kevin Walsh said.

Council Members Henderson and Molly Elston will contact the school superintendent about division of the PTO fund and to request that the school playground not be locked until the city gets a new playground.

If approved, the playground would be paid from the general fund, Peterson said. There is $23,000 budgeted. Additionally, donations have been received over the past two years that have gone directly to the city for the playground.

“I am absolutely all for improving our parks, but maybe we’re not prepared to make a decision tonight,” Mayor Walsh said. “We’ll leave it open.” No action was taken at the meeting.

The playground project was formerly a joint project between the City of Alta and Alta-Aurelia schools which has recently become two separate projects. Fundraisers have occurred over the past two years with another planned this month at the schools, and another in March.

The school board plans to decide at its Dec. 15th meeting which playground company they have selected for Alta Elementary School.

In other council news:

• Council members voted unanimously to hire an extra employee for 6 weeks in the Streets and Sanitation Dept. for winter projects.

• Some residents are unsure of garbage and recycle pickup dates when there is a holiday, and Peterson asked council members for suggestions about how to communicate more effectively with residents who do not have access to the internet where messages are posted on the city’s web site and on Facebook, and some do not have access to the Alta TV channel. Council Members Henderson and Elston said the schools text students and staff which Mayor Walsh said is viable because most people have texting capabilities. Peterson said texting could serve a dual purpose in that emergency alerts can be included. Mayor Walsh will conduct some research on the topic.

The next regular meeting of Alta City Council will be Jan. 4th.