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Orem turns ground on new Hillcrest Park

By Genelle Pugmire - | Jul 5, 2022
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This undated photo shows a new sign designating Orem's Hillcrest Park.
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New rendering of Hillcrest Park showing added parking, splash pad and other amenities.

It has been a couple of years since Orem started looking at what it would do with the property city leaders purchased from Alpine School District that was once Hillcrest Elementary School.

With some federal funding designated for public uses, Orem was able to start on a journey to build one of the most upscale city parks in the county with more than 9 acres of amenities and walking paths as a drawing card for residents.

Now the shovels have lifted the first clods of dirt and demolition preparations are in place to tear down the older portion of the elementary school that holds dangerous asbestos. Hillcrest Park is now in the construction phase.

Orem is using some of the $16 million it is receiving from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, given to municipalities and other organizations to improve and help areas that may have been affected by COVID-19.

For example, investments in parks, public plazas and other public outdoor recreation spaces may be responsive to the needs of disproportionately impacted communities by promoting healthier living environments and outdoor recreation and socialization to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Many governments saw significantly increased use of parks during the pandemic that resulted in damage or increased maintenance needs,” reported Steven Downs, deputy city manager, when the funding was announced.

Hillcrest Park will be the latest addition to a city with 23 parks already. It will also be a boon to a neighborhood that is mostly rental housing and tenants of diverse cultural backgrounds. It will bring the Hillcrest neighborhood and the entire city a new way of looking at how new city parks are being built.

The park will have enough amenities to have an indoor game or celebration, an outdoor luau, a soccer game and pickleball tournament at the same time.

Also among the amenities will be a much-wanted splash pad.

The splash pad will have in-ground nozzles so that the space can be used for other things year-round, instead of just the 90 days of summer. It is anticipated the splash pad area will cost about $600,000 or more but is within the allotted budget.

The newest portion of the Hillcrest Elementary School has been saved and is already in use for indoor sports and activities, and can be used year-round. In addition to a gym inside, there is also a professional kitchen.

The east side of the gym has a wall of windows that will be turned into doorways and will make the seating areas and the splash pad closer for moms with small children. Restrooms will be accessible from the inside and outside of the building.

Parking was another issue and the designers did some reconfiguring to add more parking spaces. The original renderings showed parking was not sufficient, or even close to it.

There will still be several other amenities, playgrounds and a half-mile of walking paths, according to Blu Line Designs of Sandy. There will be 12 pickleball courts and a large open field for soccer, baseball, lacrosse or just to play on, plus two playgrounds — one for young children and one for older elementary school children. There will be ping pong tables, shaded resting and meditating spots, and pavilions for parties and social gatherings. There are also more outdoor restroom facilities on the east side of the park.

A handful of open house meetings for the public were held to get input for what residents would like to see, and following the presentation of the new architect drawings, the Orem City Council supported all recommendations.

The city is hoping the park will be in use by fall of next year.

A video on YouTube shows what the park may look like once completed.


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