It’s possible that the future of the devastated Raging Waters may be as “bright and vibrant” as its slides. Planners in Salt Lake City anticipate gleaming playgrounds, plaza areas, and pavilions with artwork that not only reflects the history of the location but also depicts the vibrant culture of the Glendale neighborhood. The Salt Lake City Parks and Public Lands Department issued a new draught master plan for Glendale Region Park late last week, and this is a key theme that has evolved from it.
“We really want it to be focused on what the Glendale community wants to see, first and foremost. Katherine Maus, a public lands planner for Salt Lake City Public Lands, said: “And what we heard from them in our initial public engagement is really a bright, colorful, bustling environment that kind of represents the culture and variety of the Glendale community itself. And secondly, it resembles the former Raging Waters location in some way.
The Glendale Regional Park’s future?
The draught plan has 30 features, including customary open picnic and meeting areas, playground equipment, splash areas, basketball and pickleball courts, a hiking/sledding hill, and many other elements common to most municipal parks. New boat ramps, the restoration of native riparian zones, and even a riverbank beach big enough for volleyball are features that connect it to the Jordan River and the Jordan River Parkway Trail.
Additionally, there are plans for plazas and stages that would make the park ideal for hosting community events or simply providing a location for food trucks to park. Many of these structures would be brightly colored to fit the overall theme of the area. Some features even completely redo Raging Waters’ gameplay. For instance, throughout the summer and winter, the lazy river at the water park would be transformed into an ice skating ribbon.
Additionally, some of the former swimming pools would be converted into skating areas. The plan, which is a total makeover, is for a space at 1200 West and 1700 South that has been empty for almost five years. The 1980s saw the debut of Raging Waters/Seven Peaks, which shut down in 2018. Within two years of its closure, the abandoned water park progressively evolved into a hub for criminal activity.
Then, in 2017, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall declared that she wished to turn the 17-acre tract into a regional park for the city’s west side, fulfilling the need for a regional park in the area and a need based on prior federal and state funding the original project received.
Maus and other municipal planners are rushing to put together a plan that satisfies the needs and preferences of the people who will use the park because the federal mandate also specifies that the site must be opened by April 2024. Before the city initiated a wider public input process earlier this year, planning began with feedback from students and other local residents who live in the Glendale neighborhood.
Some of the elements in the draught master plan, like a water feature like a public pool, were recommended in a preliminary report of the comments Salt Lake City planners gave the City Council in May. A water feature was “one of the (top) requests for inclusion in the park plan,” according to Maus. “Having water featured in the design was crucial for the community since I think people were a little bit sad to see the water park depart,” said the architect.
A Change that is “generational”
Prior to being forwarded to the Salt Lake City Council and planning commission for final approval, possibly later this year or in early 2023, the proposed master plan will be presented to the Glendale Neighborhood Council next month. Along the road, the plan might need to be modified. It is being made available now so that locals will have time to evaluate it before the community meeting on September 21 and subsequent public events.
The draught plan has only been available for a few days, but so far, responses have largely been good. “I find it to be quite exciting. Turner Bitton, the chairman of the Glendale Neighborhood Council, said: “I’m very, very thrilled to see how many things (planners) were able to put in the master plan. He said that the response he has so far received from his neighborhood has been similarly favorable.
Nevertheless, it’s possible that not all of the features in the plan will be there when the park finally opens in 2024. Impact fees, which developers pay once for a new building that is used for public uses like parks, have been used by the city to put $3.2 million toward park construction. According to Maus, this is being utilized to prepare some of the basic features on opening day.
If Salt Lake voters pass an $85 million general obligation bond in November, over one-third of the bond ($27 million in total) will go toward building Glendale Regional Park, the future budget could increase dramatically. According to Maus, this funding would “significantly” expand the park. However, the bond will ultimately just hasten the construction process. Maus asserted that even if voters reject the proposal, the city would nonetheless build the desired park, but probably in phases.
We would open the park in stages, and it will probably significantly lengthen the timeframe, she said. Regardless of the project’s completion date, Bitton claims that the Glendale neighborhood’s people are anxious to see the park take shape. A water feature probably went to the top of many wishlists because many locals had pleasant recollections of the water park.
As the park deteriorated and became a city issue, the locals were heartbroken. He added that a regional park, which has the potential to rival the city’s renowned Liberty Park, has given rise to newfound excitement. This is significant, Bitton remarked. “Having this space finished will produce a social area, performance venues, and really a location where the neighborhood can come together for generations.
A section of the community that has experienced crime problems will be transformed as a result of this generational investment, he continued. Making a lively location where the community may assemble and share space, will correct it.