At the April 7, 2015 work session the city council agreed on a proposal presented by city staff to begin the planning process to redesign the plaza that currently holds a winter ice-skating mini-rink and summertime fountain.
Located near 10675 Redwood Road, between the Pie Pizzeria building on the north and the South Jordan branch of the County Library on the south, the rink first saw ice-skaters in the winter of 2005 - 2006. Ten years later, the unique water feature that converts to a fountain in summer months leaks horribly, and is in need of costly repairs.
Dustin Lewis, Administrative Services Director, explained to the council that the leaks have gotten progressively worse in the past five years, after starting in summer of 2010. The complex pipes for the equipment are set in concrete designed to carry liquid in the summer to operate the fountain, but not to be protected from the winter freeze when the pool is iced-over for skating; the pipes are very difficult to access for analysis and repairs, Lewis explained.
Members of staff from various city departments including the Water Department have taken a shot at sleuthing the works for clues as to how to end the yearly deluge that floods the equipment room below the plaza, but to no avail. The cost to hire outside experts is very costly, Lewis reports, and has no guarantee of solving the problem, either.
Mayor David Alvord expressed his reservations at simply eliminating the 10-year-old civic plaza feature, noting that, “they don’t just tear out a fountain in Europe if it has a problem.” Ultimately, though, he agreed that the cost to the city to construct the feature a decade ago is “a sunk cost” that cannot be recovered, and it makes sense to think of the best uses for the plaza going forward.
Don Tingey, Strategic Services Director, noted that in spring 2014, staff consulted with architectural and design experts on how to improve the appearance and functionality of the plaza surrounding the fountain. He said, “the plaza is too hot in the summer to support trees.” And as a result, the area is now mostly bare concrete without landscaping. The fountain does attract unwanted bathers, however, who consider the water open for splashing in hot months, which it is not designed to accommodate.
Ultimately, council directed staff to prepare a Request for Proposals to begin the process of redesigning the plaza area. Two large portions amounting to more than a third of the plaza land is owned by Salt Lake County, so the council anticipates working with library officials, as well as the public and many others, in the process of considering the best new use for the plaza.