Provo council expected to make land in Vivian Park neighborhood surplus property

Utah Land

PROVO — On Tuesday, the Provo Municipal Council will conduct a public hearing on the sale of surplus property in the South Fork area and Vivian Park neighborhood in Provo Canyon.

On the list are six properties in the Vivian Park development and an additional 50 acres of open land adjacent to the development going further west along South Fork Road.

In the council’s document summary it indicates Provo desires to sell the land for future development. Mayor John Curtis has suggested the land be placed on the surplus property list and sold at fair-market value subject to conditions set in the city code (3.04.030).

Curtis issued a statement late Monday night after the Herald posted a story about the sale of land in the area.

“I may be guilty of not providing enough information but let me be perfectly clear — I would never want to be guilty of selling Vivian Park or allowing mass development in South Fork up Provo Canyon (BTW, we don’t even own Vivian Park),” Curtis stated.

“Two weeks ago the council was briefed in executive session about the potential (sale) of land up South Fork Canyon,” Curtis stated. “The land consists of (five) lots that are already plotted for homes and in the current Vivian Park Subdivision and one large lot that will be divided into two lots. The net increase of development due to the sale will be two lots that will accommodate one home each,” Curtis stated.

“Not many remember but as part of the agreement to buy Rock Canyon we paid about two-thirds cash and one-third in a cash/land swap option,” Curtis stated. “This is the land that was part of that deal which was all discussed and shared in public meetings last year. For the last year the city has been working on selling the property. The city had one year to pay $550,000 in additional cash or turn over designated the land.”

Property surrounding the area is owned by the federal government and Utah County.

The council has held closed-door discussions on the sale of the property, as allowed by law, prior to Tuesday’s council meeting. It is not clear if the property is being sold to a developer to build out the land, or to an individual who wants to keep the land from being developed. That will be revealed during the public hearing.

The history and pristine nature of the area makes it a prime target for development. It is anticipated residents who are not happy to see any development take place will voice their concerns during the public hearing.

“The land has been on the market for almost a year and was first listed without an agent and most recently with an agent to make sure we are realizing the highest price possible,” Curtis said. “As part of the agreement we will be dedicating an easement for a trail on this property as well as additional property not being sold but held by Provo City. This dedication will be an important part of finally (getting) a safe pedestrian and bicycle option in the popular canyon.”

Just what makes the property different from others the city owns? Perhaps that answer is found by visiting the canyon.

Vivian Park, and the surrounding cabins and luxury homes, have been a place of gathering for families, tourists and those fishing the Provo River. The park’s history is rich, and its stories are as old as Utah Valley.

According to the Utah County official history, “Vivian Park has been a part of Provo Canyon practically from the time Utah Valley was first settled. This particular area was first deeded to a William Ferguson in a land patent dating back to 1888. Ferguson began operating what became known as ‘Billy’s Place,’ a convenient resting spot and eating place for canyon travelers.

“Around the turn of the 20th Century, the area came under different ownership and was promoted as a vacation getaway. Cabins were built and the entire site was soon filled with recreation of all types including a dance hall featuring live bands, some fine restaurants and a boat rental business.”

The Monson family had a cabin in Vivian Park, and young Thomas S. Monson, now president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spent many summers there playing and fishing in the Provo River.

In 1974, Vivian Park became a Utah County public park, and has been developed into a popular picnic and sporting spot.

Vivian Park was named after a young girl named Vivian McBride. The resort owner thought the young girl was so pretty that her name was added to the canyon retreat, according to the county history.

In addition to the fishing and picnic opportunities, the Heber Creeper steam engine stops at the park. There are pavilions, barbecues, a fishing pond, playgrounds, volleyball areas and lot of trees.

Further up the South Fork Road are two other developed Provo parks, private homesteads, scenic views and a Girl Scout ranch.

If the Municipal Council approves, the property will be put on the surplus list and sold immediately.


Source:  for the Daily Herald.