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South Valley Journal

Incoming Tracy Aviary satellite location asks city officials for financial investment

Mar 15, 2021 01:55PM ● By Travis Barton

One of the very many birds at Tracy Aviary's main location in Liberty Park. The aviary participates in many conservation and wildlife protection efforts. (City Journals File Photo/Rob Williams)

By Travis Barton | [email protected]

A nature-based community center from Tracy Aviary is coming soon to Riverton along the Jordan River. 

Discussions about a potential Tracy Aviary site at Roi Hardy Park have been ongoing for some time. And after a recent Riverton City Council meeting, elected officials will take another step forward when they talk boundaries and how much city officials should invest in the project. 

Tim Brown, Tracy Aviary director, presented to the council on Feb. 2 the concept plans for what the site of the nature center would look like. Brown outlined an entranceway; four acres of landscape with activities and programs; boxes with snakes, toads and frogs; chicken yard; nature play amenities like a mud play zone; drought tolerant plants that would attract birds and insects; walking paths; and an observation tower. 

Brown described it as a “nature-based community center” where the community could gather for presentations, lectures, celebrations, birthday parties, weddings or field trips. He anticipates having a fence to enclose the area as well just as they do at the Liberty Park Tracy Aviary. 

“We want to get the public engaged with this beautiful resource that is the Jordan River,” Brown told the council, noting the proposed venue would be “a launching point to explore the Jordan River.” 

The location is “fantastic,” according to Brown, noting they’ve been doing bird surveys just south of Roi Hardy Park for the last seven years. 

Initial capital costs would be around $4 million, Brown said. That includes a small endowment of $400,000 that would help with operating costs, which would be approximately $250,000 a year for staff and other supplies to maintain the facility. 

“We’re enthusiastic, we’re excited to partner with Riverton,” Brown said. “We’d love for Riverton to be a partner not just with land, but demonstrate to the rest of community that you have skin in the game.” 

He emphasized they aren’t asking for a “huge amount, but a meaningful amount” that would encourage Salt Lake County or the state to commit to the project as well. 

“Would be great if Riverton anted up something towards” the capital costs and ongoing operation costs, Brown said. 

Due to the escalation in construction prices, Brown noted the $4 million number could change.

Prior to Brown’s presentation, Councilmember Tish Buroker said she is an advocate of the project, noting that through grants and initial development, the city has already invested $50,000 into the project. 

“We are getting a great return on our investment,” she said. “We have a willing partner that’s willing to take a piece of property we agree we don’t have the funds to maintain and improve it and develop it for the betterment of our citizens.” 

Mayor Trent Staggs noted a lease was approved by the council in April 2020 that established boundaries for the project, but the drawings in the site plan were slightly different. Staggs said they could adjust the boundary, but was wary of encroaching too much toward the pump house already on site. 

In regards to what city officials could contribute toward the funding, Staggs noted they would have a future discussion on the boundaries and the city’s financial participation. 

For Brian Morris with the city’s Parks and Trails Committee, the “preservation of that area is hugely important,” he said. 

Morris said for the committee, their focus was keeping that area of Roi Hardy Park next to the Jordan River natural, and this seems like the ideal scenario. 

“All committee members have agreed that it’s going to be a great project,” he said. “Neighbors in that area are all excited about it. If we can make this happen, it’ll be a great asset to the community.”