CEDAR CITY – Cedar City Council members and residents raised several concerns during Wednesday’s meeting about perceived issues involving a citywide effort to create a master plan for parks and recreation.
Councilwoman Terri Hartley expressed her concerns at the beginning of the council meeting, stating she felt the City Council is too involved in the process of creating the master plan.
“I believe our role is to guide the process and make decisions, but not to unduly influence the outcome,” she said. “If we circumvent the process, I believe it may stifle other groups from coming forward and making wishes known.”
Hartley’s sentiments were based in part on recent comments made by Councilman Paul Cozzens. Cozzens has recently expressed several of his own concerns about the entire master plan process that he said leans too heavily on results from an online survey.
Hartley said she would like to see the process through to the end, reserving judgment until that time.
“I would encourage all involved to trust the process,” she said. “Processes are in place to prevent government officials from coming in and making impulsive or careless decisions.”
Council members Craig Isom and Ron Adams both echoed Hartley’s sentiments.
Later in the meeting, the issue of the master plan was raised again during a discussion surrounding The Glacier Community Ice Rink.
The city helped fund the rink several years ago by issuing about $100,000 of RAP tax money to a private nonprofit group to help build it. Simultaneously, the city created a semi-partnership with the rink by allowing the group to lease city-owned property next to the Aquatic Center. However, the issue of permanency in that same location has remained in question.
The rink has been a point of contention in the master plan process with some residents and City Council members concerned about where it will fit in the final master plan. The city’s current master plan shows the rink’s location as a future recreational center or gymnasium.
Cozzens and Councilman Fred Rowley, however, have both stated they are adamantly opposed to the city funding any large projects at this time. They also both believe the ice rink is an ideal partnership between the city and private enterprise. They argue the rink brings in revenue for the city in lease payments and more business for the aquatic center while the costs for maintenance and overhead of the facility are solely covered by private donations, continued patrons and private investors.
“No public money has gone into this enterprise except RAP tax to get it started,” Cozzens said.
One of the private investors to the rink is Cedar City businessman Dave Staheli. Rowley and Cozzens told the other members of the City Council Staheli is interested in investing more money into the rink for improvements but only on the guarantee it will remain in the same location.
“He doesn’t want to invest his money and then find out the rink has to find a new location,” Cozzens said. “Besides they have looked at other possible locations for that rink and there is none. That is a prime location for that rink and I believe they’ll just do away with it if we have them move it.”
Rowley asked his colleagues to consider allowing Staheli to present his plans for the rink during the first City Council meeting in February.
“When an opportunity presents itself you change your plans,” Rowley said. “And the city is looking right now at having a private investor come in to infuse tens of thousands of dollars into a situation that next year, that opportunity may not be here. Maybe it will, I don’t know. But for us to just say we started a plan and we know we have new information but we’re going to stick to the plan because we’ve told everybody we’re going to do the plan is stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime.”
The Council agreed to allow Staheli to present his plans but Councilman Craig Isom asked his fellow councilmembers that there be civility in the ongoing discussion on the master plan.
Residents can fill out the survey online via Cedar City’s website. It will continue to be available through January.
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