On Tuesday, June 11, the Provo Municipal Council voted 5-2 to give Mayor Michelle Kaufusi the ability to sell Timp Kiwanis Bounous Park to the Provo City School District.
The park includes 11.2 acres directly adjoining Timpview High School. The sale of at least part of the land is needed, since Timpview uses the baseball field and other fields for sports activities, and has too small of a footprint currently. The sale will also raise funds that will be used for a highly desired large sports complex in south Provo.
On Tuesday the mayor and school district will be meeting about the details of the sale. Unfortunately, many residents are worried that the community’s local concerns will continue to be ignored, despite many promises that their voices matter.
The local community originally donated the land, raised tens of thousands of dollars for playground equipment, and uses the park daily. The former mayor, John Curtis, was unwilling to make the sale of all of the land after meeting with the local community and understanding how much they have invested in the park and continue to use it.
City Councilmen George Handley and Dave Sewell rightfully voted against the sale, because there was no contractual language guaranteeing that at least part of the park could continue to be used by the local community. They agreed with many local community members that there should be a win-win-win solution wherein the city, school district, and local community all benefited.
A very reasonable compromise was raised at the city council meeting, which is to have the city retain a small portion of the land. For example, the city could keep an acre at the far south end of the park next to the well house, which they already need to retain. This would include the playground equipment and serve as a buffer to the houses adjoining the park.
The city should also retain control of the popular bathrooms and parking lot, which are used so frequently by the city and school. Such as solution isn’t perfect for any single party, but it values the needs of all of them and accomplishes the most important goals. The community would retain some of the most used features of the park, even if they would lose control of the pavilion, field, BBQs and volleyball court.
A new park not far away would help offset some of these losses. The school district would expand their land considerably for construction staging and additional fields and come into compliance with legal concerns with practicing on non-school-owned property.
They wouldn’t get all the land they want, but the cost would be reduced some if not all of it was sold. The city would gain most of the money from the sale so they could still support the new south Provo park, though not quite as much as they would have liked. But it would help them save face and support their constituents in the local community.
Alternatively, the school district and city can take a myopic winner-take-all approach that ignores the local community who has sacrificed so much for the park in the first place. If there is any place on earth where people should seek win-win-win situations that value others’ needs equally to their own, it is here in Provo.
The result of the sale next Tuesday will be telling.