City Council approves bonds for soccer park completion; boardwalk ribbon cutting

Washington City, May 23, 2014 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

WASHINGTON CITY – A resolution approving the sale of bonds up to $3.5 million for the completion of the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park was approved by the Washington City Council Wednesday.

The City Council also approved a resolution opting into the RAP tax should it pass in November, and also announced a ribbon cutting event for a new section of trail and boardwalk at Sullivan Virgin Soccer Park set for Saturday morning.

Bonds for soccer fields

Washington City Manager Roger Carter said the resolution approved by the council was setting the maximum parameters for the sale of the bonds. The sale of the bonds could not exceed $3.5 million and could not exceeds an interest rate of 4 percent and would have a term of seven years. In actuality, Carter said the amount they needed to get was $3.2 million and would likely have a lower interest rate.

Currently, the Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park, originally built in 2011 and located 965 S. Washington Fields Road, sports a fishing pond and pavilion, Carter said.

The bonds will go towards adding additional parking, completing four, full soccer fields, a pickleball court, playground equipment, concessions facilities and additional pavilions.

After the City Council voted to approve the resolution and finished its council meeting, it reconvened as the Municipal Building Authority for the city – the City Council as also acts as the Authority, yet are recognized as separate entities by the states, Carter said.

Acting as the building authority, the council again approved the resolution.

Construction is estimated to take around eight months once construction begins, Carter said.

Before then however, the public will have a chance to comment on the pending issuance of the bonds over a 30-day comment period yet to be posted by the city. A public hearing over the bonds will also be held. A tentative date is set for Nov. 4.

Mayor Ken Neilson said the completion of the soccer fields alone will mean a lot to the citizens of the area.

“Whenever I go out and speak to people, that’s one of the top subjects of conversation,” he said. “That’s been a hot topic.”

Neilson said both area soccer groups and those from northern Utah have asked for real soccer fields for a long time. In the past they have used fields at Staheli Farm and other locations to hold tournaments. That will change once the soccer park is finally constructed.

“Soccer is the most popular sport in the world,” Carter said.

RAP tax resolution

The City Council also passed an interlocal agreement between itself and other municipalities in Washington County related to funds to be received from a proposed RAP (Recreation, Arts and Parks) tax that will be voted on in the coming election.

If approved, the RAP tax is expected to generate up to $2.2 million annually and will be distributed through the county to the municipalities based on population and point of sale.

The interlocal agreement will only be binding if the tax is passed in November. If not, the agreement dissolves. Carter said the idea of the resolution was to jump on now so it didn’t appear the city was opting out of receiving potential monies for its own recreational, arts and parks-related pursuits.

“My preference is to vote for it and get on board,” Councilman Kress Staheli said.

Carter added that a public survey of around 150 households in Washington City had been conducted that produced a 60/40 outcome in favor of the RAP tax. “The council really wanted to see where the citizens were on this,” he said.

The City Council unanimously voted for the resolution.

Ribbon cutting for the boardwalk

Both Neilson and Carter mentioned that at Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park, a ribbon cutting was being held on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. to officially open a recently finished portion of trail and accompanying boardwalk.

The new portion of trail connects a system leading from the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve above the Sienna Hills subdivision in Washington City and stretches into Bloomington in St. George.

“It’s a beautiful area,” Carter said of the spot the boardwalk goes through, which includes endangered habitat. The city had to wait a number of years to receive a permit from federal authorities to build through that portion of ground.

“That portion of trail took five-plus years,” Neilson said.

The city could have had the boardwalk done sooner, as it was first in line to receive a permit over the City of St. George, which was moving to build the Mall Drive Bridge. Washington City gave up its position and let St. George take priority.

The Mall Drive Bridge was completed and opened for use earlier this month.

“It only delayed us about five months,” Neilson said. “That bridge serves both communities.”

In attendance at the event will be Neilson and other Washington City officials, as well as St. George Mayor Jon Pike and Hurricane City Mayor John Bramall, Carter said.

The 5K and 10K Dead or Alive walk/runs will be held at the park prior to the ribbon cutting at 8:30 a.m., Neilson said.

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