Funding request aims to jump-start permanent market at historic Rio Grande Depot

(KCPW News) The historic Rio Grande Depot in Salt Lake City could one day become the site of a year-round market showcasing a variety of Utah products.

An appropriations request at the Utah Legislature on Tuesday morning initially asked for $300,000 for a feasibility study to examine the prospect of repurposing the facility.

The former railroad station currently houses the Division of State History with its historical archives and wealth of artifacts from Utah’s past.

State History will be moving to a new museum building slated to be built in the vicinity of the State Capitol complex in the coming years.

Alison Einerson from the nonprofit Downtown Alliance made the case for the building becoming a permanent public market that would feature Utah goods.

“If you’re looking at farmers across the state, people who are growing apples across the state, produce, poultry, eggs, honey – it’s a really amazing economic opportunity for rural growers and producers to have a venue in downtown Salt Lake City to showcase what we do in Utah,” Einerson said.

Some lawmakers on the Infrastructure and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee questioned why the state should be involved in funding the study. Einerson, who runs the summer Farmers Market at Pioneer Park and the weekly Winter Market at the Rio Grande Depot, told them that the old train station would remain a state-owned building, but the idea was to re-activate a struggling neighborhood that has been the focus of significant attention in recent years.

“[There are] questions that are left right now based on Operation Rio Grande ending,” she said.

“We need action in that neighborhood now and I think this is a very positive step forward in partnership with projects that we know have worked in that neighborhood including a 30-year-old farmers market in a very challenged area.”

Lawmakers are hearing a number of funding requests from various entities during this first week of the 2020 legislative session. Legislative subcommittees will prioritize some requests for consideration during the session by the Executive Appropriations Committee.

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