Mayor Kaufusi gives State of City 01

Provo mayor Michelle Kaufusi talks with Karen Snow, of Provo, as Kaufusi mingles with community members after the Provo City Mayoral Inauguration on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, at the Provo City Library. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

The Provo Municipal Council approved a resolution Tuesday authorizing Mayor Michelle Kaufusi to execute the sale of Timp Kiwanis Park to the Provo City School District.

Before the 5-2 vote, contingencies were added to the resolution, requiring a letter from the district that would state how the park land would be used in the future. Councilmen David Sewell and George Handley voted no.

Attached to that resolution was the approval to transfer $2.2 million from the general fund to purchase property for a new regional sports facility, parks and walking trail.

Though dependent on each other, the sell of the Timp Kiwanis Park had to come first.

When asked how critical it was to have the sale approved Tuesday, Tara Riddle, over city land acquisitions, said she felt the approval to purchase had to be done then.

Councilman Gary Winterton said he was not interested in losing the sell of properties, but said he felt he had some obligation to the residents to let them have one last chance to voice their concerns. Winterton asked if the decision could be pushed back a week.

Councilman George Handley then said, “I need to know what was agreed to.”

Handley said there was nothing from the school district to look at, no written documents. The school district was not beholden to write a letter of agreement until they heard from the federal government.

The purchase of the park land property for use by the school district has been in discussion for over two years.

The school district was not meeting Title IX regulations that say sports fields and practice areas must be provided for young female athletes the same as young male athletes.

Timp Kiwanis Park is adjacent to Timpview High School and would satisfy the Title IX requirements. It could also provide a staging area for when construction begins on the high school.

But the district had not indicated if it would be available for public use.

Some residents in the area are not happy about the potential sale and future use of the park land because it was originally donated to the city by the Bounous family. It has been indicated the family hoped it would be used as a city park in perpetuity, although nothing is officially written concerning its future, according to Winterton.

The sale of the land was contingent on the approval of the Land and Water Conservation Fund conversion proposal from the National Park Service, which designates that money received from the sale of the park must be reinvested in land that meets the same qualifications as Timp Kiwanis Park.

Provo’s parks and recreation department has an opportunity to purchase 100 acres of land owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just off the Lakeview Parkway by the Provo airport. Of that parcel, 60 acres would meet the Land and Water conversion proposal.

The intent is to build a regional sports field and park areas with walking trails and playgrounds. The LDS Church is willing to sell the property but set June 30, the end of the current fiscal year, as the drop dead purchase date.

The parks and recreation department wants the transfer of funds and purchase to happen by or before June 30. Any delays would bring them very close to losing the property and the economic boost it would bring to the city through regional and national sports activities.

The school district would not make any commitments to the future use of the Timp Kiwanis Park until they had a written statement from the Federal government approving the conversion.

That notification came verbally on May 23 and in a letter Monday.

“I feel fortunate we got notification from the federal government in May,” said Scott Henderson, director of parks and recreation. “These are two complicated transactions.”

The two parks do meet the conversion criteria, but one is on the east side of town the other the west side. Residents on the east side don’t want to lose their park for something on the west side.

During Tuesday’s council discussion it appeared the process of purchasing was going to go down like a row of dominos, as some council members wanted to delay the process. Others weren’t sure they should sell all of the Timp Kiwanis Park to the district, thus scraping the money for the regional park.

In the end, David Harding, council chairman brought the focus back to approval of the resolution for the mayor to purchase and to negotiate with the school district on contingencies and use, and have those negotiated commitments be put in writing.

Superintendent Keith Rittel is drafting the letter, according to Caleb Price, district spokesman. Rittel and Kaufusi will meet Tuesday to finalize the discussion. It is anticipated at that time the mayor will be able to sign the final approval to sell.

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter

@gpugmire

A 32-year veteran of covering news in Utah County, Genelle covers Provo, Orem, Faith/Religion, including the LDS Church and general assignments.

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