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Today's word on journalism

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dueling masters on words:

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary."

--William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962), on Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961)

"Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?"

--Ernest Hemingway, writer (1899-1961), on William Faulkner, writer (1897-1962)

Lions Park's still coming along in Hyde Park after 30 years in the making

By Brad Plothow

March 14, 2006 | HYDE PARK -- It could be called Three Decade Park.

That's because, from its inception to projected finish date, Lions Park is expected to take nearly 30 years to complete. Funding issues and land acquisition are a few of the blights Hyde Park's city council has had to contend with to build the recreation area, which has a $1 million price tag and is slated to have its first phase finished early next year.

"We just kind of have to build as we go along," said Councilman Charles Wheeler of the park, which has been on Hyde Park's to-do list since the late 1980s. "We're a small community and have limited resources."

Lions Park will begin looking more like, well, a park after about 50 trees and shrubs, funded in part by a $1,000 grant from the Utah Conservation Corps, are planted during a celebration at the park on April 22. Wheeler expects the park to be completely useable, albeit still not completed, within four years.

In the next few months, a second set of playground equipment is slated to be installed, landscaping should be done on the parking lot, the pavilion is expected to be extended and a trail is scheduled to be paved to loop around the park's first phase.

After both phases are completed -- which, depending on funding, could take as many as 10 years -- Lions Park will include two adjoining trails (one in each phase), two playgrounds, an amphitheatre, a sprinkler system, multiple parking lots and picnic areas.

Paying for the project has been touchy for Hyde Park, which has a slim tax base. So, council members have had to get creative in how they acquired the land for the park and then paid for its construction.

"We made land trades and wheeled and dealed with (Hyde Park residents) until we came up with the boundaries," Wheeler said.

No land was taken using eminent domain, Wheeler said. It was all acquired via trades and purchases.

Once the park's boundaries were drawn, Wheeler said the council had to get creative with how to make the city's meager budget -- about $120,000 from the general fund is budgeted for the park -- spread the concrete as far as possible. That meant building the park's perimeter infrastructure by improving roads. Some of the park's grading and sidewalks were finished by developing adjacent residential areas, such as Shadow Bluffs, and upgrading 700 East.

With a meager budget, it's all about killing as many birds with the same budget appropriation, Wheeler said. "It's amazing how interconnected things get," he said.

Hyde Park's miserly approach is due to its shallow tax pool, as only about 20 small-to-medium-sized businesses are part of the city's base, Wheeler said. The Juniper Inn restaurant generated about $10,000 a year in sales tax for the city before it was destroyed in a fire about two years ago, leaving a major income hole for the city.

The park project is currently financed at about $80,000 per year, thanks to the general fund appropriation, housing impact fees ($1,093 for each new home), and a few grants.

Hyde Park's slow, fiscally-restrained approach to building the park has had plenty of benefits for the community, Wheeler said. Utah State University landscape design students got hands-on experience when they developed plan proposals for the park, and many members of the community have rallied to offer volunteer services and in-kind donations to keep the project moving.

Now the council is looking for help from the Boy Scouts, Wheeler said. The council is slated to receive the community's input on the park project, as well as solicit the help of scouts looking for Eagle projects, during a Friday meeting at the Hyde Park Civic Center March 17.

Another outside-the-box approach to move along Three Decade Park.

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