Heber City Seeking County Funding to Purchase Land in North Fields
Open space committees representing Heber City and Wasatch County are negotiating to help Heber City purchase open land immediately north of the city.
Heber City asked for $353,140 in bond funds from Wasatch County at a meeting Monday, which would contribute to a $1.5 million project that council members say would preserve open space and give public access to a 14-acre area.
The project would expand the Muirfield Park and bring adjoining land within what is known as the North Fields into the city boundary. The North Fields is a nearly 3,000-acre low-density tract owned collectively by 118 land owners west of Highway 40.
Under the proposal, the city would purchase three parcels of agricultural land totaling 14 acres. The land includes wetlands and portions of the Spring Creek and Sagebrush Spring Creek Canal.
Heidi Franco, a member of the Heber City Council and the chair of the Wasatch County Open Lands Board, said the funds would be used to purchase the land and build boardwalk trails, pavilions, a fishing pond and other amenities.
“As we looked at the different projects," she said, "we felt that this Muirfield Park expansion fit within the county code criteria for open space bond use because public parks are in [the code], land purchases are in there to preserve as open space, and we thought it would be wonderful to save the natural habitat and ecosystem of Spring Creek and the canal right there adjoining the Muirfield Park.”
At a public hearing on Monday, members of the public and Heber City Council voiced mixed opinions on whether the city should go through with the purchase.
According to Franco, the topic did not go to a vote on Monday because the majority of the board members preferred to tweak the proposal before approving the funding. The board's concerns were over how the proposal they saw on Monday would allow Heber City to use the land.
Franco said, “Up to this point, the Wasatch Open Lands Board has approved the purchase of development rights only, but they haven’t had any projects come to the board yet on a full land or a full ownership purchase. And so the open lands board is trying to be very, very careful on actual land purchases. They want to be careful about setting any precedents, so they want the numbers to be reworked, they want to make sure that it’s just focusing on the land and how many development rights and how the land will be used.”
Heber City will bring a revised proposal to the open lands board on August 11. If the board approves the bond money, the final decision will go to the Wasatch County Council.
For more information on Heber City’s grant request, visit heberut.gov.