(KCPW News) The Salt Lake City Library Board questioned Mayor Ralph Becker for nearly two hours yesterday about his administration's two proposals to build a new public safety complex next to the Main City Library. Board member John Becker questioned why the mayor did not involve the public in the early stages of the planning, as he did for a proposed downtown theater.
"I'm wondering why you abandoned that model?" he asked. "Why you did all of this work that Frank has revealed here behind closed doors, much to the dismay of many people, if the media and the Web sites and the meetings that I've been aware of are any indication."
Mayor Becker responded that he wanted to protect the city's privacy regarding potential real estate transactions made with taxpayer dollars. In comparison, he said the Broadway-style theater will likely be developed through a public-private partnership, or without using city funds at all. But the mayor acknowledges that his administration could have done a better job of introducing the public to the concept before unveiling a proposal to build right next to one of the city's most celebrated buildings and most utilized public spaces.
"I think you raise what to me is a really good point. Ideally, I think, we would have done a better job. I'm not sure what that is, but I think we would have done a better job of engaging the public in those early conceptual thoughts in terms of site alternatives," the mayor said.
The library board will meet again next Tuesday to further discuss the two different proposals, which are to either build the public safety complex right next to the library building or on the next block directly across 300 East. The board's goal is to have a consensus position approved at that meeting about which of the two proposals it favors.