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Spanish Fork announces plan for new recreation center

By Ashtyn Asay - | Mar 11, 2022

Courtesy Spanish Fork City

The Spanish Fork City Council. Back row from left: Shane Marshall, Brandon Gordon, Chad Argyle, Kevin Oyler. Front row from left: Mayor Mike Mendenhall, Stacy Beck.

Spanish Fork Mayor Mike Mendenhall announced in an online video Thursday that Spanish Fork will be getting a new indoor-outdoor aquatic recreation and senior center.

According to Mendenhall, planning for the facility has just begun. Therefore, many of the details are still up in the air.

“There are still a lot of unknowns, like how much it will cost, what features will be included, and when it will be opened. Please be patient as we work to get these figured out,” Mendenhall said. “There are also a lot of things we do know, number one, we currently don’t have a pool. Number two, it’s up to us to shape our future and as elected officials, this is the future we have chosen after hearing your feedback.”

He noted in the video that the agreement to move forward was done between himself and the Spanish Fork City Council. The council is working alongside a citizen committee to formulate plans for the new aquatic center. According to Mendenhall, the citizen committee will be visiting recreation centers in neighboring communities, like Springville and Orem, to assess which aspects should or should not be incorporated into the Spanish Fork center.

Although there is no official timeline, Mendenhall expects that the new aquatic center could take at least two years to complete.

According to Mendenhall, building a new aquatic center in the city became a priority for the Spanish Fork City Council after the Spanish Fork City Water Park closed permanently at the end of the season in 2021 to prepare for the renovation of the neighboring high school.

Along with city growth and safety, finding a way to build a new recreation center and pool was one of Mendenhall’s primary issues when he ran for mayor last year.

“We’ve been talking about it ever since we knew that our current pool was going to close down,” Mendenhall said. “We obviously wanted to gauge the citizens through an election like this that just happened … just about everybody we talked to their number one question was ‘what are you going to do about a pool, we heard discussions about a rec center, what are you going to do about that?'”

A nearly $40 million bond was proposed in 2015 to fund the construction of a city life center, which would have been a three-in-one senior center, library and recreation center. Ultimately, the bond did not pass.

Mendenhall believes that residents were not opposed to recreation center in 2015, but rather the proposed means of funding it.

“The life center discussion and that vote that went on the ballot was not so much in a way that, at least the people I talked to, of saying ‘hey we don’t want these facilities,’ it was simply ‘hey we don’t know if this is the way we want to pay for this, and we don’t know if this is the right time,'” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall believes that the failure of the bond was for the best, as the city now has additional funding sources available to fund the new combined aquatic recreation and senior center.

“About 15 years ago we celebrated having a sales tax revenue of a million dollars per year, and now Spanish Fork City brings in about a million dollars a month in sales tax revenue,” Mendenhall said.

The status of the economy now, as opposed to seven years ago, also lead the Spanish Fork officials to consider the plan. Mendenhall stated that the new recreation facility will likely be paid for using sales tax revenue, Spanish Fork’s RAP tax, property tax and potential donations from local businesses.

While property taxes will likely still be used as a funding source for this project, Mendenhall stated that residents will pay much less than they would have for the city life center. Still, the amount that residents will pay is unknown.

“We don’t know for sure because those numbers are pretty fluid, it depends on what will be included in the facility,” Mendenhall said. “I am confident to be able to say it’s nothing near what was proposed back during the life center. If there is a property tax component of this, it is considerably less.”

Mendenhall has stated that more information will be coming out about the project through a web page, which will also be created in the near future, and that residents who are concerned about the construction of a new aquatic center should contact him, or members of the city council.

“We’re open to things if they need to be adjusted, we don’t think we know everything about everything,” he said.


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