ST. GEORGE — A group of neighbors who came together to ask the city of St. George not to offer up a cherished city park for an incoming development succeeded in having their voices heard.
Black Hill View Park on the old airport hill had been planned to be removed and replaced elsewhere nearby by the builders of the Tech Ridge development.
Upon hearing about these plans in early May, dozens of neighbors showed up at St. George City Hall to express their thoughts and apprehension about the plans during a City Council meeting.
“To some of you, it may just be an acre of land, but to us it is more than a park, it is more like our neighborhood backyard,” neighboring resident Amy Luce said during the May 3 meeting. “My family uses this park on a daily basis, and we would be devastated to see it turned it into a concrete entrance.”
The park is situated on the ridge at the corner of the newly dubbed Tech Ridge Drive and 235 South overlooking downtown St. George. The park has a playground, a large lawn area, picnic tables and several fully grown trees. It was reportedly built in part through an Eagle Scout service project.
The development group responsible for Tech Ridge originally planned to remove the park and redevelop the land as a frame of entrance for the planned technology hub, which includes plans for a complex of multiple tech companies surrounded by residential neighborhoods, restaurants and 60 acres of parks and trails.
“That’s going to be a fundamental change for the ridge,” Mayor Jon Pike said of the incoming development.
The city has agreed to sell approximately 150 acres of land on the ridge to the developer, Tech Ridge LLC, over a period of several years. So far, 10 acres of zoning have been approved to begin building the first phase of the development.
While many neighbors expressed their favor for Tech Ridge, they were nevertheless unconvinced that it was necessary to remove the park.
“We think Tech Ridge is going to be a great addition to the city … but we know that takes time, and we hope that while that is going forward we won’t lose the little park that we have now,” neighbor Tad Derrick said.
The developer was planning to build another new park nearby to replace Black Hill View Park before removing it.
“My grandfather’s actually the one who donated the part of land on the hill to be the park,” resident Rick Walker said. “The idea of taking it away is frustrating.”
After hearing from the neighbors, the City Council tabled the proposal and met with the neighbors and developers over the next three months, ultimately holding a neighborhood meeting last week at which a consensus was struck to keep the park fully intact.
“I just want to be really clear, the park will remain as-is,” City Manager Adam Lenhard said during a City Council meeting Aug. 2, explaining that a purchase option agreement with the developer had been amended to exclude the park.
“I’m just happy that the city and the neighbors came together and the developer came together, and in the end, the park stays as-is,” Councilwoman Michele Randall said.
Councilman Jimmie Hughes, acting as mayor pro tem during the meeting, echoed that sentiment and commended the neighbors for making their voices heard.
“The reason we’re going through all this is because as a city we chose to stay involved,” Hughes said. “The other option was to dispose of this property or sell it.
“So, I would ask that you continue to stay involved and give your input. This is a prime example of how that worked. The original proposal came in to take the park altogether, then it came in to take a little piece of the park, and now it’s back to what I hope you felt better about, which is leaving the park there.
“That is how the process is supposed to work.”
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