(KCPW News) Salt Lake City’s decision to move ahead on a sports complex along the Jordan River despite its approval of the Blueprint Jordan River plan has environmentalists crying foul. And now City Councilman Soren Simonsen says he’s reconsidering his support for the project.
“If there’s an issue right now that we need to address, I think we owe it to taxpayers and to those that are interested in environmental protections along the Jordan River to make sure that we’re doing the right thing before we have committed ourselves to the point that we can’t take another look at it if we need to,” he told KCPW.
Voters approved a $15 million bond measure in 2003 to build the sports complex. However, the cost of the plan has nearly doubled from what was anticipated, and the city has been working to pare down the project without compromising the bond money. Meanwhile, the Blueprint Jordan River plan recommends the parcel should be set aside as a natural area. And public feedback included in the document shows county residents favor wildlife areas 34-to-one over sports fields on properties next to the river.
City officials say the sports complex will include a large buffer area along the riverbank that will be restored and preserved as open space. Simonsen says this could be the answer, but wants to look into alternative sites, as well.
“It might be an area where the compromise is the best solution, but it’s certainly not the only solution at this point,” he said. “And I think we owe it to try to find whether or not we can create a win-win here.”
Simonsen says the mayor is scheduled to meet with the city council in early January to discuss the issue.