MANTI — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sanpete County and a nonprofit group called the Central Utah Pioneer Heritage Association have concluded a three-way land swap that is expected to pave the way for development near the Manti LDS Temple.

While decisions on use of the lands aren't yet final, plans call for construction of a pioneer heritage center and gardens, new Sanpete County fairgrounds and possibly a temple visitors center.

"We view these land exchanges as a win-win situation for the citizens of Manti and Sanpete County," Manti Mayor Natasha Madsen said. "All of these facilities will be a great addition in our area."

In the first trade, approved Aug. 25 by the Sanpete County Commission, the county gave the church two acres west of the temple fronting on U.S. 89. The site is in the area recently designated as the National Mormon Pioneer Heritage area.

The county received five acres of church-owned land, currently in agricultural use, northwest of the city near the current Sanpete County Fairgrounds. The church also paid the county $138,000 to cover the difference in value between the two parcels.

On Monday, the Pioneer Heritage Association announced that the church had given the association the two acres that the church had acquired from the county a week earlier.

In return, the church received about an acre of land owned by the Heritage Association near 400 North. The site is at the base of what is known as Temple Hill and immediately southwest of the temple. The church already owned adjacent property, so the trade gave it control of nearly a full block.

The Pioneer Heritage Association, formerly known as the Manti Destiny Committee, said it planned to build a pioneer heritage center and memorial gardens on its land.

The organization has been working on the project since about 1980 and has raised $1 million, including more than $375,000 from the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.

The church said it was exploring various options for use of its land. But local leaders have said the church is considering a visitor's center.

Sanpete County has approved a plan to build a courts complex on part of its current fairgrounds. So it is considering moving the fairgrounds north onto the land acquired from the church. Long-range plans call for construction of a convention center and possibly a covered horse arena as part of the fairgrounds.

Meanwhile, a group called the Move the Fairgrounds Committee has formed and is campaigning to move the fairgrounds out of Manti to the junction of U.S. 89 and S.R. 132. The alternative site is about eight miles north of Ephraim. Public input meetings on the pros and cons of the two sites are being held this week.


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