Salt Lake Valley’s rapid expansion over the last decade has left little room for nature preserves. Another part of the remaining “green space” may soon become part of the concrete jungle. Mulligans Golf and Games is roughly 67 acres of open space that surrounds the Jordan River just off 10600 South in South Jordan.
Purchased over 20 years ago from a private owner, the city developed the land for recreational use and created two nine-hole golf courses, a double-decker driving range, a miniature golf course and batting cages. Over 150,000 visitors are attracted to the park every year, making it one of Utah’s top visited parks.
Over the last year, however, the city of South Jordan has been in talks to redevelop the acreage into a “mixed use” area, consisting of offices, restaurants, parking garages, condominiums and bike trails. There is also talk about relocating West Valley’s Hale Center Theater to Mulligans. Many South Jordan residents are not happy about this and have initiated the “Save Mulligans” campaign.
Residents Julie Holbrook, a former mayor of a small town in Washington, and Carol Brown started the group last year and have voiced their concerns about the destruction of their district’s open area. “It’s more than the premier park we’re trying to save, it’s the premier green space. It’s not just a golf course, it’s green space.”
Unlike many other parks and recreation centers, Mulligans is completely self-sufficient and does not require supplementation from taxpayers. But council members such as Mark Seethaler suggest otherwise. His numbers detail that South Jordan supplements $220,000dollars each year to keep the park open and that the city is losing on many opportunity costs by doing so.
Holbrook and Brown argue that the city has been presenting exaggerated numbers to the public in order to sway opinion. They argue, “While the city may portray itself as subsidizing a commercial entity, Mulligan’s was set up with its own enterprise fund to cover maintenance, operations and improvements. Cost recovery of these items exceeds 100%.” They also claim that the city has suddenly added “administrative costs” and “other costs” that add up to the city’s claimed deficit.
According to Seethaler, “In my view ‘saving Mulligans’ by doing nothing will be its death sentence. Revitalizing Mulligans through our best cooperative effort with the goals of preserving green space, creating public venues to gather and recreate, and ensuring economic self-sufficiency is the way forward.”
The proposed redevelopment, shown in the insert, however, does not include a large area of preserved green space.
The “Save Mulligans” campaign has admitted they are not opposed to the development of their city, but they hope for “wise” development. “Right now, we are trying to inform public because there’s been so much misinformation. We are asking for public meetings and hopefully put it to a vote of the people. The mayor even said that the people should decide the fate of Mulligans, which is one of the reasons I voted for him,” said Brown.
She then notes that there hasn’t been a single, public town hall meeting to discuss the issue, and the city has not revealed which developers they might use. “Save Mulligans” has presented methods for revitalizing the area with updates and repairs and has suggested has suggested improvements for its management.
In addition to acting as a gathering place for locals, wildlife also finds the open space attractive. Many endangered species can be found at the park at varying times, including the white-breasted annis, nesting blue herons, painted water turtles, great American pelicans and kingfishers.