It’s official! Murray Park is the people’s choice for Top Park
Sep 07, 2018 02:19PM
● By Jana Klopsch
Murray Park’s west entrance includes the large wood carving of Chief Wasatch. (Photo courtesy Murray City)
When it comes to city parks, City Journal readers have spoken, and their choice is Murray Park. July was National Parks and Recreation Month, and the City Journals hosted a “Park Madness” tournament to determine the best park in the valley. Murray Park was one of 16 parks in the City Journals’ readership area that went head-to-head in an online poll.
All 16 parks were seeded by their Google reviews, and Murray drew Herriman's W&M Butterfield Park in the first round of polling. Murray Park fans came out in force and decisively gave the park an opening round win by claiming 88 percent of the votes. This set the stage for the most hotly contested matchup of the tournament against Riverton.
Based on the number of votes cast in round two, the Riverton City Park versus Murray Park contest had more votes cast than all the other match-ups combined in that round of the tournament. The contest was a razor-edged phenomenon, sometimes vacillating by less than one percent. Social media websites for both cities went abuzz advocating for their followers to cast a vote in the nail-biter as the lead between the two switched numerous times.
“The competition became personal for many,” according to Kim Sorenson, director of Murray Parks and Recreation. “Murray staff and citizens showed a tremendous amount of pride in Murray Park. They took the competition to heart and helped spread the word to others to vote.”
It took until the final hours of the poll for Murray Park to pull off a squeaker, with only two percent of the vote. Demonstrating that it was all in good fun, and showing a lot of class, Riverton City posted, “We couldn't have had a more able competitor, as it is so clear Murray residents take great pride in their community and in their beautiful park!”
The Riverton round mobilized Murray Park’s fan base as it moved to the round of the final four. West Jordan’s Veterans Memorial Park put up a fight, but could only muster 32 percent of the vote, and Murray Park sailed into the championship round. All this provided momentum for Murray Park in facing Mountview Park in Cottonwood Heights. The relatively young park couldn’t withstand Murray’s enthusiasm, which, in the end, claimed 91 percent of the vote and the tournament crown.
The tournament also included popular parks such as Sugarhouse, Memory Grove, and Dimple Dell. Created in the 1920s, Murray Park was the oldest in the tournament. “It would be unusual to find someone in the county who has not visited Murray Park,” said Sorenson.
The park initially started out as a brickyard on the west side of Vine Street. Smelter employees formed baseball teams and played in the old brickyard, which eventually became home to Murray’s professional baseball teams. Eventually, the city formally organized the park and created a swimming hole fed directly from Little Cottonwood Creek, and planted shade trees, some of which still stand to this day. The park later incorporated an arboretum, baseball stadium, café, amphitheater, and an indoor recreation center.
Sorenson says there are still more plans for Murray Park. “Mayor Camp and the city council funded a Parks and Recreation Master Plan to be completed in 2019. The plan will include community input on future growth, new park amenities, and future recreation services. When complete, the Master Plan will prioritize future park improvements not only for Murray Park but all parks owned by Murray City.”
The City Journals also recognized Riverton City Park as Most Improved Park, as it was reconstructed in 2015. Rookie of the Tournament was given to Mountview Park, which is less than 10 years old. Upset of the tournament belonged to South Jordan’s Eastlake Park, beating well-known Memory Grove in Salt Lake City.