Joint effort between county and LaVerkin leads to developing new Confluence Park, trailhead

LaVERKIN — As part of a larger project in a joint effort with Washington County, the city of LaVerkin is developing a new city park that will serve as both a traditional park as well as a new trailhead for access to Confluence Park.

Illustration shows the design concept for Power Plant Trailhead Park, location and date unspecified | Image courtesy of Patricia Wise, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Richard Hirschi, LaVerkin mayor and chairman of the Confluence Park Executive Board, told St. George News they hope to improve Confluence Park and wanted to provide a trail that was different from the others that descend to Confluence Park.

“It’s a more challenging way to get down to the power plant,” he said, adding they also plan to do work on the power plant in efforts to preserve it and protect it against further vandalism.

“People get in there and vandalize it. They spray paint it a lot and throw rocks in it. We’re trying to fix that up.”

Along with the trail, the city is working to develop a park at the trailhead.

While the LaVerkin City Council is still discussing the final name, right now they are referring to the park located at the west end of 210 South as Power Plant Trailhead Park, council member Patricia Wise told St. George News. The park will have various uses including two playgrounds and a picnic area. The far west end of the park will link up with a trail that will descend a metal staircase toward the Virgin River near the historic power plant.

The ground has been cleared for Power Plant Trailhead Park, LaVerkin, Utah, Aug. 16, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News

“We were trying to make it a kind of extension of Confluence Park while also honoring the history of the power plant, as it was a source of power for LaVerkin for many years,” Wise said. “But in addition to that, we wanted it to be just kind of your typical neighborhood park with a little bit of grass for parents to sit on … or picnic with their children.”

Eventually, there will be a traditional playground and larger play area that will mimic Confluence Park, such as having rope swings and a climbing wall that looks like the old granary, but this is still in the preliminary visionary stage, she said.

This land, which is directly above the historic hydroelectric plant, was originally owned by LaVerkin, which then sold the land to the Ash Creek Special Services District. In 2019, Ash Creek sold the land back to the city, Wise said, and soon after, the council began to develop plans for “a pocket park.”

Power Plant Trailhead Park is part of a greater plan for the development of Confluence Park stretching back some 13 years. Shortly before LaVerkin repurchased the land, the county put in a grant to the Utah Outdoor Recreation Office for a Utah Outdoor Recreation Grant.

“They wanted to restore some orchard areas,” she said, adding that the county also wanted to preserve the power plant – not in terms of use – but to make it a historical artifact.

The county is currently installing a metal staircase to descend to a trail into Confluence Park from Power Plant Trailhead Park, LaVerkin, Utah, Aug. 16, 2020 | Photo by Aspen Stoddard, St. George News | Click to enlarge

As the county was working on this, they were aware that LaVerkin was planning on purchasing the piece of property above the power plant to make it into a park, and they thought it would be great to have another access point and trail coming into Confluence Park that is not off state Route 9.

“Because that main trailhead (just north of the LaVerkin bridge) has some issues with it as far as access for parking, they wanted to do a trailhead,” Wise said. “They proposed to the state in this grant that they would make a switchback trail up the side of the cliff and put in a metal staircase at the top that would link up with the city park. And then as part of the grant, they would also install restrooms. LaVerkin agreed to help with the concrete and electrical, sewer, water and all of that.”

Currently, the ground has been cleared for a parking lot, restrooms have been built and infrastructure for the metal staircase has been installed.

Hirschi said both the city and the county are putting money into the project and suspects it will probably be one or two years until the development is complete.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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