Wanting more info, Washington City Council tables approving parks and rec master plan

WASHINGTON CITY — The latest version of the city’s parks and recreation master plan proposes to keep impact fees at their current levels while cutting back on future projects in order to do so. Set to be adopted by the City Council on Wednesday, the plan was tabled as council members felt they needed more information before moving forward.

Barry Blake, Washington City’s leisure service’s director, before the City Council, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 23, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“I feel there’s more to be done before we vote on this,” Council member Daniel Cluff said.

Currently, Washington City’s park and recreation impact fees are $3,700. In order for residents to enjoy the same level of service provided by the city in relation to new projects, those fees will need to be hiked to $6,300.

Local home builders have decried the possibility of Washington City hiking its impacts fees, which the Southern Utah Home Builders Association says are already among the highest in the county. The group shared its concerns in detail during a prior City Council meeting.

Increasing impact fees could also negatively impact overall housing affordability, home builders have said.

Barry Blake, Washington City’s leisure services director, told St. George News that the city and the home builders association have been working together on the impact fee issue.

Impact fees are attached to new construction and are a collection of various fees covering the cost of future city infrastructure to accommodate growth, such as future fire stations and sewer systems. In the case of parks and recreation, those fees are applied to future parks, trails and other recreational pursuits.

Impact fees have been used to build the new Shooting Star Park in Washington Fields and incoming Canyons Park and Hellhole Trailhead.

Volunteers, members of city staff and their families help out at a service project for an incoming “skills and challenge park” by the Hell Hole trailhead set to open in Washington City in late November, Washington City, Utah, Oct. 21, 2019 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

While the city has the option to adopt higher impact fees to keep its current level of service in relation to building new parks, trails and other amenities, council members like Cluff said they refused to do so. However, he and other council members also wanted a more clear cut plan of what the city should and shouldn’t plan for over the next 10 years.

“Should we be building large recreation complexes or small ones?” Councilwoman Kolene Granger said. “I think there is a discussion that needs to happen.”

A more defined plan would include looking at the parks and recreation master plan and picking which planned projects move forward or get postponed, Blake said, adding that currently the council doesn’t have such a guideline and would like to have it before approving the master plan.

The City Council instructed Blake to have a spreadsheet of future parks and recreation projects ready for review by the next month’s council meeting.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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