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DISPUTE MAY DOOM LITTLE DELL FUNDS

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Money for recreation projects at Little Dell Dam may be down the drain because of a spat between Salt Lake County and the Metropolitan Water District.

The Metropolitan Water District needs the county's approval on documents that allow recreational development at Little Dell Dam. At stake is $2.4 million in federal funding that the Corps of Engineer planned to return to the District since recreation amenities will be included at the dam.Much of the money would pay for recreational improvements. The documents have to be approved by Friday - the last working day of the federal government's fiscal year.

The County Commission refused to sign off on the documents because the Metropolitan Board voted Monday not to help pay for improvement of Emigration Canyon Road, which is one route to get to the dam.

"This is one of the most environmentally sensitive and congested roads in Salt Lake," said Commissioner Randy Horiuchi. "It's a road that can be very dangerous, used by bikers, hikers and runners as well as serving 400 canyon homes."

The county had asked the Metropolitan Water District to pay half of $375,000 in improvements to the canyon road. The district's board voted Monday against providing the funds, said County Commissioner Brent Overson.

That decision upset the commissioners because the county contributed $7 million in flood control money for the Little Dell project - after being promised there would be no recreation at the dam. Also, the county projects that traffic on Emigration Canyon Road will increase 13 percent due to recreation at Little Dell Dam.

"I have never once been briefed on this, yet I'm told this is the last day (for funding)," Overson said.

Horiuchi said the district says the impact on Emigration Canyon from recreational activities at Little Dell will be minimal.

"One trip added per day is too many," Horiuchi said. "I believe that the road is in crisis."

Salt Lake City put in a "paltry" $1 million but is getting about $200,000 back from the district to pay for recreational amenities at the dam, Horiuchi said.

"Yet Salt Lake County is left holding the bag for increased traffic and given nothing to help mitigate the problem," he said. "That is not the way to treat a full funding partner."

Salt Lake City water director LeRoy Hooton said if the federal funds evaporate, the already modest recreational plans for Little Dell will be scaled back more.