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The City Journals

Sandy City acquires ‘Evan’s Heaven,’ plans to develop park

Mar 07, 2018 05:28PM ● By Justin Adams

A view of part of the Evans/Richardson area from Wasatch Boulevard. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

Some of Chad Evans’ most cherished childhood memories happened on a little hill along the east bench, a place known as “Evan’s Heaven.” It wasn’t just where his family lived, it was a fixture of the community. Now, many years later and with the help of Sandy City, Evan’s Heaven is set to reclaim that status.

On Jan. 23rd, the Sandy City Council voted unanimously to purchase the land that comprises Evan’s Heaven for $2.3 million. The parcel, totaling about 10 acres, is located at the mouth of Little Cottonwood on the southeast corner of Wasatch Boulevard and 9400 South.

The two families that have lived on the property, the Evanses and the Richardsons, sold the property to the city on the condition that the land be turned into a public park. Chad Evans told the Sandy Journal that the park will be part of the legacy of his parents, Elvis and June.

“My parents have always been in love with doing good for other people and raising children,” he said. 

Elvis and June Evans bought the property in 1945 for $1,500. Chad said the price was so low because the place is so full of big granite rocks that at the time it was nearly impossible to build and plant much there. They had a total of 18 children (some of whom came into the family through the foster care system).

Throughout their lives, Elvis and June made their home a place that was open to all. “You talk to anyone who’s lived in Granite for long enough and mention Evan’s Heaven, they’ll know what you’re talking about,” said Chad.

At one point, the Evans and Richardson families even had plans to build a children’s museum on the property. Chad said that while that didn’t work out, the families have never lost their parents’ original dream of having their home become a place where children could come to learn, play and explore. 

“One of the last things my mother said before she passed away was that I needed to make sure that property gets taken care of properly, meaning, for kids,” said Chad.

Over the years the two families received offers for the land from developers, some of them much higher than what the city ended up paying for it. Speaking during the public hearing regarding the purchase, Evans told the city council that they “were willing to look away from these other offers so children can have the same adventures that we had when we were kids.”

The purchase contract stipulates that the city must start building the park by 2022, though Councilman Chris McCandless said during the meeting that he’d like the city to move much faster than that. “I want to start planning right now,” he said.

The park will be a “passive park,” meaning that there won’t be playgrounds or large expanses of grass designed for team sports. Instead, the park will emphasize open space, nature trails and nature preservation. 

Part of the land is also expected to be used to create a new trailhead and parking lot for the Bell Canyon trail system. The trail is an extremely popular one. Its current trailhead along Wasatch Boulevard often becomes overcrowded, causing congestion in the area.

The property is also expected to fulfill other useful purposes. The Sandy City fire chief said that a parking lot at this location would be an ideal staging area for firefighting and rescue operations that take place in the area. 

The proposed purchase received enthusiastic support not only from members of the Sandy City Council, but by multiple community members who came as well. Representatives from the Dimple Dell Preservation Society and the Granite Community Council attended the meeting and voiced their support for the project.

Of the $2.3 million paid for the property, Salt Lake County provided $1 million and the rest came from the city’s water bond.