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Sandy Journal

Mayor’s proposed budget shows plan to rebuild Alta Canyon Sports Center in phases

Jun 04, 2024 02:31PM ● By Rebecca Olds

The Alta Canyon Sports Center, located at 9565 Highland Drive, celebrates its 40th-year anniversary with hope for a phased approach to rebuilding. (Rebecca Olds/City Journals)

On May 7, Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski and her staff proposed an innovative way to save and secure the future of the beloved community center, Alta Canyon Sports Center from a state of disrepair.

The building, located at 9565 S. Highland Drive, has not undergone any renovations in the 40 years since it was built and has shown up on the city council agenda as a talking point many times for nearly a decade.

The primary problem, Zoltanski said, was the lack of funding.

“That’s what's kept us from making progress. We all have lofty goals, but we just don’t have a way to fund it all at once,” she said. “We’ve looked at options for Alta Canyon from every angle including closing, which none of us want to do.”

So Zoltanski and her staff got creative. 

“When I say ‘rebuild’ I’m not talking about an overnight $40 or $50 million rec center,” Zoltanksi said during the city council meeting. “We just can’t afford it, we haven’t been able to create a funding source, there have not been sponsors for naming rights or anyone who has stepped up. And we don’t want to or cannot increase fees enough to invest overnight.”

Instead, Zoltanski proposed rebuilding the facility in several different stages, that would offer a “reasonable and sensible” way for the city to rebuild the center as budgetary restrictions allow. 

In her tentative 2025 budget she presented to the council that night, she allocated $8.3 million more to rebuild Alta Canyon Sports Center to get the process started. 

If the council approves the budget, the money awarded for the next fiscal year combined with past funds earmarked for the project would equal a total close to $12 million to go toward phase one of the proposed rebuild.

Sandy Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Martin Jensen said the whole team is committed to making the dream of rebuilding the center a reality and this new approach of rebuilding may be the answer the city has been looking for.

A phased or modular approach

“We're committed to building this and building out the design, but we have to do it in a fiscally responsible manner,” Jensen said. “We're going to build what we can afford.”

He said while it’s ideal to have only one phase of reconstruction, it’s currently not doable. For a while the council discussed simply remodeling the facility, but that plan quickly fell apart as a study found it would be cheaper to rebuild rather than remodel. In 2023, the council voted to rebuild.

“As you start to remodel a building that's 40 years old, you don't know what's going to happen when you get in there and start tearing walls apart,” Jensen said. “The cost may go through the roof significantly.”

The building has only lasted as long as it has because of a passionate staff, Jensen said.

“The staff have done amazing things to try and keep the facility active and to repurpose the existing facility,” he said. “They've turned a couple of the racquetball courts into fitness areas, they have treadmills and various fitness equipment in there because the space just wasn't utilized that much.”

But, even with choosing the cheaper option, rebuilding would cost a whopping $40 million albeit in increments with the phased approach. 

Jensen said the city is still looking at getting the job done in one large remodel if the funding becomes available.

With the city’s built out plans of the center, staff hopes to better their chances of being awarded grants to make up the deficit from programs such as Zoo, Arts & Parks, or ZAP, and Tourism, Recreation, Cultural, Convention and Airport Facilities tax act, or TRCC.

“We're not just asking for the county to fund it all,” Jensen said. “Sandy City wants to be a partner.”

What will stay and what will go?

Public feedback regarding the features to keep has focused around, what Jensen calls, the “beloved outdoor pool” and beautiful views of the Wasatch that the center currently has. 

Other amenities high on the list to be included in the new facility are an indoor walking track, a larger multipurpose gymnasium and more individual classrooms for various fitness classes. There might even be a new playground in the center’s future, he said.

Zoltanski also noted plans to look at expanding the grounds and making use of the outside space fit for all ages. 

“We can rebuild out Alta Canyon, it just won’t be all at once,” Zoltanski said. 

The city is still seeking the public’s opinion on the types of things they’d like to see in the new facility and encourages public comment to their council members and mayor.

More details about the phased-rebuild will be available on May 28 as the proposed plan will be discussed in further detail during the city council meeting. λ