Those who believe one person can't make a difference should take a trip to Magna and meet Anna Beth Mecham.
Mecham, a mother of six who just sent two children to college, has been credited with spearheading an effort that likely will land this unincorporated community an Olympic-size swimming pool. Over the past two years, she has organized letter-writing campaigns and has become expert at hounding county officials.Recently, County Commissioners Randy Horiuchi and Jim Bradley credited Magna residents' tenacity as one of the primary reasons the pool project has gotten county attention.
As she tells it, Mecham has long dreamed of a pool for her children and others in the community at Pleasant Green Park, 3250 S. 8400 West. She wanted a place where Cyprus High School's strong swimming tradition could be expanded. Teaching programs and competitions are planned for the pool.
The community crossed a major hurdle on its way to achieving Mecham's dream when Kennecott Utah Copper announced last month it was donating land for the pool and park. The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm in this community of 18,000, especially by Mecham and a committee of 12 others who volunteered to help out.
"I was thrilled. I was in awe," Mecham said.
Kennecott's donation, valued at $500,000, meant that the county could progress with the pool. Because of the donation, the complex will be named the Kennecott Re-cre-ation Complex.
Additional park projects include a pavilion, tennis courts and park landscaping. Already the county has landscaped four acres in an area west of the proposed pool and is waiting for a new water line. Of the 27 acres at the park, only six have been developed, according to Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation.
Mecham said getting to this point meant a lot of work and disappointment. The group held meetings, arranged corporate sponsorship of a tree planting, passed out stamped envelopes addressed to county commissioners at a Fourth of July parade and sat through county budget sessions.
After the letter-writing campaign and successful lobbying effort with Salt Lake County, residents believed the park was a foregone conclusion in the county's budget last year. However, the budget ax fell and the pool was unfunded again.
"I blame the Oxbow Jail," Mecham said. "While it (the pool) never fit into the budget, it was always been a high priority."
Magna residents face another obstacle. The county only has $750,000 in the current budget to complete the pool, estimated to cost $1.5 million. County Parks and Recreation Department will ask the County Commission for an additional $500,000 in the next budget before pool construction begins. If enough money is obtained, construction could begin in January and the pool could open in July, said Glen Lu, parks and recreation director.
Commissioner Jim Bradley said the commission will look at tax money and corporate donations to fund the remaining part of the pool project.
Mecham expects the new pool, like the new West Jordan pool, to exceed revenue projections because of the community's interest in swimming. The Cyprus High pool is always crowded during public swim time, Mecham said.