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South Valley Journal

Changing the world, one park at a time

Jul 03, 2019 02:52PM ● By Jet Burnham

Katelyn Soares and Camron Howell install a drip-line water system. (Jet Burnham/City Journals)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

The class of 2019 has plans to change the world, and some are starting in your neighborhood. Landscape Architecture students from the Jordan Academy of Technology reimagined local parks, and one team submitted its final design to Riverton City.

“As a city, we are actively seeking to be more attentive to detail,” said Riverton City Manager Konrad Hildebrandt. “We are seeking to beautify, even small areas, as we can. This design fits right into our strategic priority.”

The space Camron Howell and Katelyn Soares redesigned is a park, round-a-bout and median that is part of the western initiation of the ‘Old Town’ future development. They were not given any direction or restrictions, so they focused on improving the aesthetics, water usage and ease of maintenance for city workers.

“Our goal was just trying to give it a purpose instead of it just being a property that the city has to maintain,” said Soares. “It's mostly grass, and it's just this weird shape, and you can’t really get lawn mowers on it.”

The team repurposed the area to provide local residents a functional recreational space.

“There's a spot that's big enough to pass a football back and forth, so we're leaving grass there,” said Howell. “And then there was another spot that was too small to put a lot of plants but too big to just leave so we put a picnic table there.”

The design met the needs for privacy for nearby homes as well as pedestrian safety.

“We put low ground covers so people could actually see the corners and see pedestrians,” said Howell.

Their solution applied a local-scaping ideology, designed with native plants to reduce water usage.

Milliken arranged for the project to give the students a real-world experience working with clients. The city also benefitted from the partnership.

“Interaction with our Jordan School District students is invaluable,” said Hildebrandt. “They learn some of the processes that a municipality goes through, and we get to hear their innovative thoughts and solutions.”

He said the students’ plan for usability and beautification will “definitely be considered” in the overall process. 

Other teams of landscaping students reimagined local parks for a competition sponsored by Utah State University.

“We were just asked to take a park and then redesign it and make it better for the community,” said Jaden Raleigh. His team redesigned Prospector Park, located just north of Bingham High School. They proposed adding a volleyball sand pit and more trees and garden areas.

Tanner Barney said their design makes the space more water-wise.

“There was useless grass all over the place that we changed to flowers,” said Barney. “The plan installed drip plant systems instead of just sprinkler heads. That way, you're not wasting as much water.”

Students enjoyed the project because there were no budgets or limitations. Barney said his team initially talked about an amusement park, but in the end, they went with a more practical design to provide functional play areas and aesthetically appealing vegetation for the community.

Their design won second place in the contest, and the team received $100 prize money. JATC teams swept the competition, taking first, second and third places. Instructor Brett Milliken said JATC is the only school in the state to offer the concurrent enrollment landscape architecture class. The campus also provides hands-on learning in the on-site garden for students to practice plant identification, pest control, irrigation, installation and maintenance.

The drone they use for more accurate measurements of large areas is another advantage the teams had over other high schools in the competition.

Miliken said even if students don’t become professional landscape architects, the skills they have learned in his program will benefit them when they become homeowners. Many students have already given advice to family members and neighbors about landscaping design. So, your yard could be next.