Orem city leaders are one step closer to getting a design on a new Hillcrest Park.
During Tuesday’s City Council work session, city partners Landmark Design and Y2 Analytics gave presentations on the City Park Master Plan survey results and then on residents’ requests on Hillcrest Park specifically.
According to Y2 Analytics’ survey results, over 2,000 residents responded to the survey with 22% saying they want CARE Tax monies, gathered by sales tax revenues, to be used to upgrade and maintain current parks. About two-thirds of responders say they visit an Orem park at least once a month.
Having a park close to their home was extremely important. Residents also want more walking and biking trails. In fact, residents who say they don’t use the fitness center say they get their exercise using the outside trails most.
Half of the residents use city trails at least two times a month, according to the survey.
The most used parks in the city include the City Center Park, Bonneville, Scera, Nelson’s Grove and the Orem city parks.
Trees and walking paths as well as sports courts were the top three uses of the parks.
The survey also showed that residents want upgraded or new bathrooms, more fenced dog park options and sports fields and courts.
Residents are often leaving the city to use other cities’ amenities such as dog parks, pickleball courts, disability playgrounds and splash pads.
Some city council members are concerned that pickleball is a fad and will go away, however, the survey showed that 15% of adult and 13% of child residents play pickleball. It was also noted the pickleball courts are easily transferred to other court sports.
About 43% say they want more trails, and trails that are connected to each other and perhaps even connect with other cities’ trails.
City Manager Jamie Davidson noted that expansion of trails between cities is part of the Walking Trails Master Plan that is being directed by Mountainland Association of Governments because of the connecting of multiple cities.
Hillcrest Park, which is just south of the University Parkway, directly across from the easterly end of University Place, offers more than 9 acres of developable park land.
Two concepts have previously been provided to the council and residents. Residents in the Hillcrest neighborhood gave more than 329 comments.
Concept A. keeps a new portion of the old Hillcrest Elementary School that includes the gym and kitchen and potentially the media center.
Concept B eliminates the school completely. More than 36% of residents responding say they want the Concept A design that keeps a portion of the school; 19% want the school gone as in Concept B.
One of the biggest reasons to keep the gym is the ability to have winter indoor sport options. It could also provide a variety of opportunities for community organizations such as clubs, Scout Troops, education classes and family gatherings.
Residents would like to see fewer than the suggested 14-16 pickleball courts. They would prefer 10-12 courts. They are extremely interested in a splash pad, open field, trees, walking paths, fenced dog park area, new bathrooms and children’s playground areas.
There is a great concern about amenities being close to the University Parkway that might draw young children. There is also concern about vandalism and homeless people living in the park.
Brenn Bybee, assistant city manager noted that these current designs had served their purpose and that with the new information, Landmark Design could move forward.
Mayor Richard Brunst said he would like to see more resident input by having roundtable meetings when residents could sit and design what they would like to see.
Davidson and Bybee said that more than 2,300 individuals have given input and it would be prudent to have the current desires integrated into a new design.
Then with the new design, a final input on the specific design could happen rather that spending more time on a number of individual designs.
“At some point there are too many people,” said Councilman Tom Macdonald.
It appeared that the majority of the council liked what they heard including willingness to lower the number of pickleball courts, having a splash pad, keeping the gym, and have walking paths.
Davidson noted that the city’s all abilities park took input not only from adults but from the children with special needs who would use it.
It has been about 20 years since Orem has built a park up from scratch, according to Davidson.
“This area of town is really excited for the park,” Bybee said.
We need to get moving and we don’t want government to take over, Macdonald said.