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Sandy Journal

Sandy City takes citizen input on future of Alta Canyon Sports Center

Feb 26, 2019 03:07PM ● By Justin Adams

The front entry of the Alta Canyon Sports Center, which all parties agree is in need of a facelift. (Justin Adams/ City Journals)

By Justin Adams | justin.a@thecityjournals.com

Last month the Sandy City administration hosted a series of town hall meetings to gather public input about the future of the Alta Canyon Sports Center. 

Alta Canyon was founded in 1981, alongside a special taxing district to fund it. With a few exceptions, the special taxing district stretches from Sandy’s northern border to Dimple Dell Park, and from 1300 East to as far as 3100 East. Households within this boundary pay an extra tax each year to keep the center open. According to city administration, the average tax for a $400,000 home is $39.16 per year. 

Jetta Valentine, the sports center director, said the district’s tax rate is actually extremely low compared to other similar special taxing districts. According to the presentation made by the administration, the district that funds the Cottonwood Heights Rec Center brings in $2 million more per year. 

The underfunding of Alta Canyon Sports Center has led to some problems though. The administration cites a lack of space, amenities and aging infrastructure that prevent the center from reaching its potential. 

The center had two major expansion/renovation plans put together over the years, but neither were implemented. A planned expansion in 2008 fell apart when the recession began. Another proposed expansion in 2015 didn’t happen when the center didn’t receive the necessary funds from the County ZAP tax (zoo, arts and parks). 

“Ultimately, Alta Canyon is old. We’re doing the very best with what we have,” Valentine said. “We need to remodel, we need to expand the center.”

One possible solution for raising the necessary funds would be to expand the special taxing district to all of Sandy, an option Sandy City Councilman Zach Robinson said was “popular” during the administration’s three town halls, all of which he attended.

Robinson, who regularly utilizes the sports center with his wife and children, said it’s much more than just a gym, citing services like after-school child care that many parents rely on. 

“It has ingrained itself into the fabric of our community. I believe in what it does for our city,” he said.  

Valentine agreed, saying that sports centers are different than corporate gyms in that “they’re aimed at families and having activities that support families.”

Expanding the taxing district to all of Sandy may be an unpopular idea with residents who live in the southern portion of the city, where driving to the center can take 10 to 15 minutes. 

However, Valentine said the center has conducted studies about who uses the center, and found that users are spread throughout Sandy, and even beyond its borders. 

Now with citizen input from both the town hall meetings and a survey, both city officials and the elected board which oversees the taxing district will have to make some tough decisions about what to do. 

“As the guy that has to figure out where the money is going to come from, it was really helpful to hear a lot of citizen comments,” said Robinson.