There are many things that make good communities, from fun activities and programs to well-maintained roads and safe neighborhoods.
What takes a city from being good to great, however, are the people who are active in making the community better. As a lifelong resident of Spanish Fork, I have seen numerous examples of residents who have made Spanish Fork the home of pride and progress.
In 1998, the city had a vision for a new park that would be a gathering place for our residents. Even though the funding was not entirely available at the time, the city and residents were committed to doing whatever was needed to make this dream a reality. Hundreds of volunteers spent countless hours working on the park in a variety of ways, including groundwork, leveling, cement, sprinklers, sod, building the snack shack and even sewer and water utility work.
I even remember removing rocks from the land in preparation for construction. When Phase 1 of the Sports Park was completed, the road adjacent to the park was named Volunteer Drive in recognition of all the volunteers who made the park possible. As Spanish Fork has grown over the last 20 years, so has this park, which has grown from about 20 acres to more than 85 acres.
The Sports Park is not only a crown jewel of our community, but is a coveted facility in the county and state. In fact, the Sports Park recently received the Outstanding Facility Award from the Utah Recreation and Parks Association. Certainly the Sports Park would not be what it is today if it weren’t for the volunteers who set the foundation 20 years ago.
Each year before Memorial Day, the American Legion Post 68, which is based in Spanish Fork, and residents set up a cross, flag and poppy flower for each veteran buried in the Spanish Fork Cemetery. This memorial, which started with only 500 crosses, has grown significantly in the almost 30 years since it began. Last month, 1,767 flags and crosses were set up in a matter of minutes by our wonderful veterans, volunteers and staff.
Each year, as I walk through the memorial, I am humbled to find crosses bearing the names of my father, grandfather and uncles, and many other men and women who have played meaningful roles in my life. Each flag and cross represents an individual and family who has sacrificed greatly for our community and country. I cannot adequately express my gratitude for these great men and women for their sacrifices. Likewise, I am extremely grateful to the residents, volunteers and staff who spend the time to prepare the cemetery for Memorial Day.
Our community is not only improved by residents moving rocks or setting up flags. Some residents make a difference by providing their input on city projects and policies. Over the last year, we have engaged the public in discussions regarding a variety of important topics to our residents, including the future plan for the River Bottoms, the design of our new fire station, the RAP tax and program and policies regulating accessory dwelling units, to name a few.
We have been pleasantly surprised not only by the comments we have received from our residents, but also by the number of residents who have participated in surveys, focus groups, open houses and other public meetings. The feedback received has definitely guided the outcomes of these topics. As a city, we are committed to engaging with the public on key issues, and will continue to do so moving forward.
Spanish Fork was built on volunteerism, and volunteerism continues to permeate our community today. Many of the city’s programs, including Adopt-a-Planter, Fiesta Days, the Harvest Moon Hoorah, the Easter Egg Hunt, the Festival of Lights and our various recreation and arts programs, would not be possible without our countless community volunteers. Thank you to all those who serve our community in one way or another. I encourage everyone to take time and volunteer in whatever way you can. Not only do your efforts better our community, but they also change how you see our community.
I have found that as I serve the city, my love for it grows. Likewise, I have seen others gain a greater appreciation for and love of Spanish Fork as they give of their time and talents. As you and I serve this great city, our community will go from good to great, and more importantly, we will see it as a great community.