Pool, roads, and grocery store on city’s radar
Santaquin citizens for years have clamored for the city to take action regarding issues like road maintenance, commercial growth, and the lack of recreational facilities. Over the years it seems much has been said by public officials and representatives on those fronts, with limited headway made on plans for a future pool, grocery store, or improved roads.
During this year’s city council retreat, however, councilman and city officials may have started the ball rolling on solutions to the citizens’ concerns.
With help from a third-party facilitator from Brigham Young University, the council was able to outline important goals for the future during their meetings in late February. Many issues and city needs were discussed, but in the end the council and department supervisors were able to determine six main areas of focus. inSantaquin News was able to sit down with City Manager Benjamin Reeves recently to talk about the direction Santaquin City is headed.
6 Main Goals
According to Reeves, a consensus was reached regarding the most pressing issues facing the city in the next two years.
“The issue we have with our council and our mayor, they run because they want to improve, they want to make a difference,” said Reeves. He spoke from the perspective of the council by saying, “It’s so hard when we have people pulling in different directions, so by spending time in a retreat with an unbiased facilitator, letting them filter what’s most important to me as a council member so that in two years or four years when I’m gone I can feel like I made a difference and I made a legacy.”
Here are the six goals the city hopes to accomplish in the upcoming years.
- WRF (Water Reclamation Facility)
The membrane bioreactor sewer facility, or WRF as city officials have deemed it, remains a primary focus of the current administration in Santaquin until it is completed in the next 18 months. The council no longer wants this facility to be a “distraction” to the city.
“The council just wants to get it done and out of the way,” said Reeves.
Ground could be broken on the new sewer plant any day now, and after more than a year of litigation and debate on the issue the council wants to put this behind them.
- Grocery Store/Commercial Development
Quite possibly the “real” number one priority of the city; attracting commercial growth to the city in a way that will generate revenue streams is a high item on the council’s list. The discussion of bringing in a grocery store chain to Santaquin has been a long-debated issue of many city councils in the past. The current administration feels it’s now time to focus their efforts on that goal.
“They want our number one priority to be bringing businesses into Santaquin,” said Reeves. “Creating jobs and, long story short, keeping local dollars local.”
With the Main Street project completed, the city hopes to scratch the surface on attracting those major grocery stores to town. “So that’s our number two priority, try to get a grocery store here in town,” said Reeves.
- Take Care Of Existing Revenue
“The concern I have is wages,” said Reeves. “How do I pay to that with our revenue?” “
The city must balance it’s budget effectively as a municipality or face repercussions from yearly auditors.
“The most expensive asset I have is my employees,” said Reeves. “Taking care of existing personnel and assets.”
- Road Improvements
A short drive down 400 North will help any Santaquin resident understand the city’s street-quality problem. Between pot holes and a recent chip-and-seal mess, Santaquin’s roads are a community eyesore.
In the city-conducted survey taken in Nov and Dec of 2011, citizens voted Roads/Streets as one of the most pressing problems in town.
“Our roads stink,” said Reeves.
Hard to argue with that.
- Rec Center/Sports Complex
Santaquin residents will be happy to know that by next year they could be voting on a recreation center at the voting booths.
With a goal to have a future recreation center or ball complex on the ballot in 2013, the council is taking a proactive look at new facility options.
“Our council recognizes that there’s a strong desire in the community for a pool/recreation center and baseball complex. The question is how to afford it, what we want to do, what to include or exclude?” said Reeves. “So they want us to spend a lot of community time planning what exactly we want to go after.”
A community pool in Santaquin has been a rumor topic for years, a small sum of money was even raised for the construction of a public pool at one time through citizen donations.
“People really want a rec center, they want a pool and a ball field complex. But it comes down to ‘I want it this much that I’m willing to pay’. As soon as they say ‘it’s going to cost this much’, do you still want it?” said Reeves.
The city understands it is not in the advantageous position of a tourist trap like St. George, but it does hope to capitalize on any future recreational development by taking into account South Utah County region needs.
Santaquin hopes to find its “niche” in the regional recreation landscape. They don’t want to compete with Payson’s facilities, but rather give surrounding cities another option.
“For instance,” said Reeves. “If Payson has an outdoor pool we should look at an indoor pool.”
Any option, however, will be a costly project. Reeves said the city will look to gather as much public input as possible before making any decisions.
“Get the voters input first, before we spend any real tangible amount of money,” said Reeves. “And then put it on the ballot in 2013.”
- New Public Works Building
The current public works building on 400 west and 200 south is all but on its last leg, judging from its outward appearance. The council agrees that it’s time to retire the aqua marine-colored structure.
“Our public works building is just so deteriorated that we need to replace it,” said Reeves.
The plans are to construct a new building in the next two years.
Looking for a few good citizens
With those six main goals on the council’s radar for the upcoming years, the city is also looking for volunteers for a Citizens Committee to help Santaquin amend its current General Plan.
On the Santaquin City website an announcement has been published detailing the position and requirements. “The General Plan sets forth the direction the City will take in managing its future, based on a shared vision for the community”, said Community Development Director Dennis Marker. “Public input is essential for this shared vision. The members of the Committee will help set policies and programs for land uses, housing, traffic, economic development, public safety, all the things that influence our quality of life.”