Garden City is making some big improvements to attract and keep more families in town while visiting the Bear Lake area. Mayor Mike Leonhardt said the city is in the process of adding another seven acres of grass, sprinklers and power to Heritage Park.
Currently, Heritage Park is a great draw to the area because of a three acre community fish pond.
Loenhardt and the current Garden City Council are in the process of expanding the acreage adjacent to the community pond. They envision the park being used for Raspberry Days and other events.
“We hope to accommodate Raspberry Days at Heritage Park next year,” Leonhardt said. “The booths will have power and there will be a playground for the kids.”
It’s all about bringing in families and giving them a place to spend time together, the mayor said.
The mayor is also working on an amphitheater for free concerts and performances in Heritage Park. He said there is plenty of talent in Garden City to make it work. People will be able to bring a blanket and sit on the grass and enjoy a concert, or other program, and eat dinner.
A brand-new road bypasses the city and goes right to the park.
“The new road is really nice and will help because people can go down (300) West from Highway 89 to Highway 30 without going through town,” Leonhardt said.“There is a lot of beach area for people to go to, but sometimes it’s nice to have a place to go and relax away from the water,” he added.
The original idea for the park came from previous mayor John Spuhler. When he was elected in 2010, the pond was one of his first orders of business. And it wasn’t received very well, originally.
“It was so unpopular, I caught a lot a flack,” Spuhler said. “A lot in the community were against it. Once it was built, I saw a lot of the ‘nay-sayers’ on the banks fishing.”
The former mayor said they got three bids for the pond and the lowest bid was a local company that dug sewer ponds. However, the Department of Environmental Quality said they couldn’t build the pond because they weren’t certified for fish ponds, even though they were certified to dig sewer ponds. Not to be denied, Spuhler hired the crew as city workers and rented their equipment.
“At the time, they needed the work and we needed their skills,” the former mayor said. “The Utah Department of Natural Resources has been great to work with. They supply the fish; they have been awesome about it.”
The pond was finished in 2012.
Spuhler said he’s been told that it is the most-fished community pond in the state of Utah.
“At the time, even though I’m a conservative, people in town called me the ‘Obama of Bear Lake’ because of my little social project, the pond,” he said. “But since then they have all been pretty kind.”
Mayor Leonhardt said he wasn’t sure the pond was such a good idea, but he warmed up to it once he saw how much the pond and its cement walkway were used.
“As it turned out, it’s been a very popular place for families to fish,” Leonhardt said. “Every afternoon and evening it’s busy, mostly with fathers and their kids fishing.”
If the new facilities work like expected, the mayor said the city would like to add some baseball diamonds to Heritage Park.