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SITE OF FUTURE NATURE CENTER DEDICATED

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Dimple Dell Park was set aside and formally dedicated as the future home of the Dimple Dell Nature Center Friday evening.

Dedicating the ground was the easy part. Now proponents must raise $750,000 toward the $1.5 million project, which will take just over a year to construct once the money is in place.Salt Lake County Commissioner Jim Bradley announced at the dedication that the County Commission has set aside $750,000 and plans to match private donations dollar for dollar.

The approximately 700-acre park will provide Salt Lake County residents with interpretive displays and a nature library, multiple-use trails, guided and self-guided nature trails and human and natural history displays.

A three-dimensional model of the proposed center shows "one of the first - and only - truly environmentally sensitive buildings," said Burke Cartwright of Edwards and Daniels, architects for the project. Peggy McDonough served as the primary architect.

"It is designed to use all-natural material and light . . . indigenous materials in context with the environment. It's nice to have a project that contributes back, that looks like it's rooted here and belongs here, as opposed to being imposed on the land," Cartwright said.

The center will also serve as a native-plant and wildlife sanctuary, complete with wildlife observation areas, satellite interpretive sites throughout the park, natural history study areas and ponds and streams to sustain wildlife, according to Ty Harrison, chairman of the Dimple Dell Nature Center Task Force and biology professor at Westminster College. It will also have bike trails.

The road leading to approval of the center has been a long and uneven one, he said. Hundreds of county residents formed Citizens to Preserve Dimple Dell in 1987. When they proposed a nature center, they didn't know they were embarking on a major political battle. A golf course clubhouse was proposed for the same site and the future of this Dimple Dell land, located at about 10600 South and 2800 East, became the subject of political campaigns, petition drives and public meetings.

The decision is now final, Harrison said. And the nature center won. "A lot of people think it could still be a golf course. They're wrong."

Cartwright emphasizes that the center is not going to be a museum, but rather "an orientation to get people outside. It's always different; the seasons are always changing. This will be a year-round facility."

For more information on Dimple Dell Nature Center, call Harrison at 255-3167.