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Holladay Journal

With new funds available, Holladay likely moving forward on playground remodel

Feb 22, 2022 08:57PM ● By Travis Barton

The Holladay City Park playground will most likely see a new, more accessible rubberized surface in time for the summer concerts. (Travis Barton/City Journals)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

With a majority of the council signaling its approval, residents can most likely expect a new rubberized surface for the Holladay City Park this summer.

There was hesitation among councilmembers in January to fund a project that replaces the wood chips in the playground with an accessible rubberized surface. It would also create a wheelchair accessible pathway from the parking lot to the field.

Originally the project was budgeted at $165,000 but due to rising costs in labor and materials—as well as an initially low estimate—the project rose to $285,000.

Several councilmembers balked at the large dollar amount, cautious to use such a large sum on a playground that originally cost about $375,000.

But with the discretion allowed to use ARPA funds (American Rescue Plan Act)—which directs millions of dollars from the federal government to its state and local counterparts—the city would have $3.6 million from which to pull the money to cover the total cost or the difference.

Councilman Paul Fotheringham was one official questionable on spending the money, but with the new funding mechanism, was in favor.

“I liked it better when we had a restricted number of buckets from which to spend that money, because then it made more sense,” he said during the Feb. 10 council meeting. “But I won’t penalize it because all of a sudden the restrictions are off.”

Councilman Dan Gibbons also had reservations, and preferred to delay the decision until later in the spring so they could “see the bigger financial picture with other projects.”

“At the end of the day I would probably vote for it,” Gibbons said, later adding, “we do have the money available. Without the ARPA funds, I’d probably be more vocally opposed to it.”

Councilman Ty Brewer still had questions though despite the newly available ARPA funds. He said several constituents told him they didn’t want this because of the substantial cost.

“What we spend here is money that couldn’t be spent elsewhere,” he said. “I don’t love it frankly for those reasons. We could get by with what we have is the hard part for me.”

Sheryl Gillian, executive director for the Holladay Arts Council, said accessibility is a priority to her. Partly because the pathway would allow older, more elderly to better reach the park for summer concerts noting “every year somebody falls” descending the hill by the restrooms.

And partly because of the message she feels it sends.

“If you do not have an accessible playground surface, what you’re saying is everybody can play on that playground except people who use wheelchairs,” she told the council.

Councilmembers Drew Quinn and Matt Durham remained in favor.

“I just think it’s an opportunity that benefits a segment of our community that we should be looking out for,” Durham said.

Quinn worried putting off the project would cost more money in the future.

“I think the time is now,” she said.

Officially the vote is expected to take place on March 3, but city staff needed an answer since the contractor is already in place and putting it off further could push the May-planned construction back.