Orem residents interested in the amenities and design of the proposed new Hillcrest Park will be able to tell the council what they would like during two meetings at 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. on March 4.
In the meantime, a new website has been set up at oremhillcrestpark.org for information and to give comments on the plans. Residents are already putting in their requests, according to Brenn Bybee, assistant city manager.
The Thursday meetings will be on Zoom and residents can connect through the new website.
The one thing the council wants to make clear is that residents do have some say on the park and nothing is set in stone, yet.
“The most important part of all of this is to hear what the public wants,” said Mayor Richard Brunst.
Nearly every member of the city council has received numerous emails about the park design and what should be there.
For the most part the responses are positive, Bybee said, however, some council members say people don’t want as many pickleball courts and would rather have open fields to play soccer or throw balls with their kids.
City Manager Jamie Davidson explained to the council that the park was designed with the whole community’s needs in mind. The same needs as what is in the Citywide Parks Master Plan.
The Hillcrest Park will be just over 9 acres with option A including the newest portion of the vacated elementary school built in 2004, being saved. That portion includes a gym, kitchen and media center.
Option B is the complete 9 acres built out as a park, 16 pickleball courts with the idea of making a regional tournament location has been proposed, as well as playgrounds, hiking trail and more.
A third option that would have sold the whole school to a commercial company with reduced acreage for the park was rejected by the council.
Both options A and B will cost about $10 million, according to Bybee. The rejected option would have cost the city about $15 million.
Much has to happen before a park is in place, but this week’s meetings are kickstarting that process with the residents’ input.
Residents are starting to learn just how a 9-acre park became an option for their neck of the woods.
On March 31, Orem received a letter from the Alpine School District notifying the city that it had declared the former Hillcrest Elementary School as surplus property.
On May 26, the city council passed a resolution declaring its intent to purchase the Hillcrest property and authorized Davidson to negotiate the terms.
In an agreement with the school district, Orem had first right of refusal to purchase the more than 9.33 acres. The price was set at $5.6 million — or $568,000 per acre. The city was to purchase the property before the end of the year. That happened in December.
Now the council is just hoping that residents will participate in the Zoom meetings on March 4 so they understand what they can and cannot do with all of the residents’ requests. That will give them and the city leaders a clearer direction.