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ASHTONS CULTIVATING GENEROSITY

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Green spaces are disappearing from Utah's landscape like water gushing through a hole in the dam. Fortunately, some Utah residents are helping plug the hole, and Alan and Karen Ashton are among the best examples.

The Ashtons have decided to turn a 500-acre parcel of land they purchased in northwest Lehi last winter into a "garden" they want to share with other Utahns and visitors to the state.Alan Ashton, co-founder and former CEO of WordPerfect, says he and his wife refer to the area as their Garden of Eden and have dubbed it Thanksgiving Point because they consider it an expression of "thankfulness to the Lord for our bounteous blessings."

In a way, it is a gift to Utah for which residents also should be thankful. It will be a beautiful oasis in a sea of rapidly increasing housing developments.

The Ashtons are planning to transform the former dairy farm into a botanical garden, world-class golf course, 160-room hotel, farmers market, animal park and a host of other natural and recreational attractions.

In saving the property from residential development, the Ashtons are keeping and enhancing the beauty of it for future generations. It will be a continually renewing and irreplaceable legacy.

The botanical garden, especially, will be a delight for people of all ages and income levels. Karen Ashton says it is designed to rival the famous gardens of Europe in diversity, color and scope.

The golf course should attract major tournaments, yet it will be affordable for Utahns. It will surround the botanical garden with even more green, open spaces. Other plans for the property were made with the idea of keeping it accessible to everyone, not to make a profit.

The Ashtons promise entrance fees will be nominal, just enough to cover operating expenses.

The project truly will provide Utah with a garden in its back yard that everyone can enjoy. The Ashtons' farsightedness and generosity deserve a collective thanks from all Utahns.