It’s amazing the difference just a few short years can make in Tooele County.
Less than five years ago, while our county government teetered on the brink of fiscal collapse, there was talk about possibly closing or selling Deseret Peak Complex to help relieve the county budget of debt and operational subsidies.
But that was then. Last fall, the Tooele County Commission hired a planning firm for $57,000 to write a master plan for Deseret Peak — supposedly the first ever such plan created for the facility that opened in 1999 at an initial construction cost of $19 million.
Last week’s editorial encouraged citizens, if they hadn’t already, to review the draft master plan on the county’s website and submit a comment to help the county and Landmark Design, the Salt Lake-based planning firm that’s doing the work, create a better document. According to Landmark, nine citizen comments were received by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline. Additional comments were also received during the open house.
Here’s our take on which alternative the master plan currently offers that the Tooele County Commission and Landmark Design may want to encourage or pursue. Without any cost projections in the draft master plan, except for an estimated $2.5 million in deferred repairs to Deseret Peak’s current venues, it’s difficult to pick.
But if money were no object, we’d have to go with what is called “Alternative #2.” It entails buying or swapping land for approximately 100 acres of private property that extends east of the intersection of Sheep Lane and state Route 112. And on that property — taxpayers and sponsors willing — the county could add several multi-purpose playing fields, a softball complex, an RV/trailer campground with amenities, a hotel, restaurant and gas station.
Although Alternative #2 requires that the intersection of Sheep Lane and SR-112 be moved farther east, it will allow for future expansion that is contiguous with Deseret Peak’s current location. Alternative #1 has future expansion on land south of SR-112 that is currently used for event overflow parking. Although that land is already owned by the county, having SR-112 split any Deseret Peak Complex future expansion is undesirable. It may also be a potential safety hazard for facility users, even if pedestrian tunnels or overhead bridges are built.
Because of the county’s not-too-distant past financial challenges and a reported $2.5 million in deferred repairs on some of Deseret Peak’s current venues, it could be argued the county commissioners are overly proactive in developing a master plan for the facility whose overall improvements will likely cost multiple millions of dollars.
But as Tooele County’s population centers continue to grow, so too will demands on Deseret Peak’s venues. The pressure will come for the facility to expand — taxpayers and sponsors willing — and the commissioners are wise to prepare now to prevent regrettable decisions made in haste.
Sometimes you have to put the cart in front of the horse before the horse can take you where you want to go. When finished, the master plan may be the cart, but likely not for long.