At their regular meeting on July 26, the members of the Cache County Council will vote whether to approve Resolution 2022-21, a proposal that would place a $25 million bond issue on the November ballot.
CACHE COUNTY – A $25 million open space bond issue will be up for grabs at the next meeting of the Cache County Council on July 26.
Council members will vote on Resolution 2022-21, placing a proposal for the issuance of a general obligation bonds on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.
If approved by Cache County voters in November, those bonds would fund the purchase of land and conservation easements to preserve scenic vistas, open land near valley gateways and trails.
The goal of the proposed bond issue is also to protect agricultural land, waterways and wildlife habitat.
The bond issue is the brainchild of the ad hoc Open Space Advocacy Committee, headed by former North Logan mayor Jack Draxler and Cache Valley businessman Eric Eliason.
That group has been holding weekly meetings since spring to discuss options to preserve Cache Valley’s open space in the face of rapid development. Its membership includes local residents, famers, realtors, attorneys and elected representatives.
In May, the committee surveyed 1,000 randomly-selected county residents to capture their views on the preservation of open space.
The survey found surprising unanimity of opinion.
Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents felt it was important to preserve scenic lands and vistas. About 75 percent of respondents felt that it was important to preserve agricultural lands in the north and south gateways to the valley and to add to the valley’s trail network.
Most surprising, however, was that valley residents said that they would be willing an average of $40 per year if needed to preserve open space.
In June, Draxler appeared before the County Council to brief them about the survey’s results and urged them to consider placing the bond issue on the November ballot.
If approved by voters, the bond issue would likely raise property taxes by $3 or $4 a month on the average valley residence to raise $25 million over a ten-year period.
In discussions on the bond issue June 12, council members Nolan Gunnell and Gordon Zilles were generally supportive of the idea.
Zilles noted that people have talked about preserving open spaces for years, but no one has been willing to pay for such efforts in the past.
“I think it should be put on the ballot,” Zilles argued. “Let the citizens decide.”
But council member Gina Worthen voiced concern about the process by which such open space preservation would take place.
Council member David Erickson agreed, urging that the process by which bond issue funds would be spent must be completely transparent.
But Council Chair Barbara Tidwell felt that those concerns could be resolved prior to the November election.
“I think the people deserve the chance to vote on it,” she added.
During his presentation to the council in June, Draxler explained that the bulk of bond issue funds would probably go toward the purchase of conservation easements, by which landowners are paid to remove their property from potential development.
Examples of such open space preserving deals include the Kunzler Conservation Easement, preserving public access and recreation along a lowland stretch of the Logan River; the Brooke Ranch Conservation Easement in Paradise; and the Zollinger Fruit and Tree Farm Conservation Easement, preserving agricultural land in River Heights.