Visions of the wild west (valley)May 30, 2022 05:24PM ● By Collin Leonard
Phase one of Bingham Creek’s park development project, covering 65 acres (Photo courtesy of Salt Lake County)
By Collin Leonard | [email protected]
A dentist by trade, Dave Alvord stepped into local government as mayor of South Jordan in 2014. He spent one term in office, and dealt with issues related to high density housing, transportation and new recreational amenities. Now serving as a county council member representing District 2, Alvord has been learning to represent the interests of a much larger constituency: the valley’s west side.
“If I really wanted to make a difference in my community, it would be to fight for amenities in the areas I represent,” he said. Salt Lake County transitioned to a mayor-council system in 2000. The legislative branch of the county is made up of a council including six districts and three at-large elected officials.
Alvord’s shift to the county level was partially motivated by the disparity he noticed in the distribution of county funds among districts. The Zoo, Arts and Parks funding is an example of this; with 60% of Tier 2 funding going towards District 1 and only 2% awarded to District 2. In this instance, he cites a lack of applicants and awareness as contributing factors.
One of Alvord’s latest challenges is finding uses for a portion of the $225 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds received by Salt Lake County. He took to twitter to discuss his frustration with the limitations that accompany the money, saying the money comes with "strings attached."
The "strings" he is speaking of are spending guidelines, allowing money to only be used "to respond to the pandemic or its negative economic impacts" and "to make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure," among other stipulations outlined by the act. Alvord tweeted that he would be "very careful not to fund programs that will need sustained government support."
In alignment with infrastructure investment, the councilmember is looking into funding clean water projects, such as reverse osmosis and reuse facilities, and replacing the closed Marv Jenson lap pool. The recreation center provided lanes for Bingham’s swim team, a team Alvord was on himself when in high school.
Another exciting project in the pipeline is the development of mountain biking trails in Butterfield Canyon. A variety of parties have been involved in pushing for the development of an official National Interscholastic Cycling Association course for high school competition.
Spencer Millerberg, a South Jordan resident, helped organize a fundraising effort and was able to present the county with a $200,000 check. The county, the Bureau of Land Management and Rio Tinto all own portions of the land. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) made calls to expedite communication with various organizations.
"[It's] probably the most exciting thing I’ve been able to participate in in the county," Alvord said.
As mayor in South Jordan and then continuing in his county role, Alvord has also been working to develop the vision for Bingham Creek Regional Park at 10200 S. 4800 W. "It’s one of those really cool things I got to see starting with the city,” he said. The sprawling 160-acre site, formerly known as Welby pit, will be the largest park in the valley.
Looking forward, Councilman Alvord wants to hear from his constituents. Sometimes the county is an entity that flies under the radar. “I wish we had more engagement,” he said. “Your interest can change the culture of our meetings.”