South S.L. to vote on whether city purchases Granite High property
July 24th, 2011 @ 4:59pm
SOUTH SALT LAKE — Voters will decide whether the old Granite High School property will be purchased by the city and turned into a civic center.
The South Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously last week in favor of putting the $25 million bond issue on the ballot. If approved by voters in November, the city would turn the 27-acre Granite High campus into a center for community, arts, recreation and educational programming.
The bond also would fund renovations and seismic upgrades for all buildings on the campus.
“Establishing this identifying civic center will not only enhance the quality of life for our (residents) but also attract new business and families to our city.” -Cherie Wood
“Establishing this identifying civic center will not only enhance the quality of life for our (residents) but also attract new business and families to our city,” Mayor Cherie Wood said.
The 30-year bond would cost South Salt Lake homeowners an additional $84 per year in property tax, based on a $165,000 home. Businesses would pay $136 more per year, city officials said.
The future of the campus is being guided by a couple of Granite High graduates, who say it’s also citizens who want to transform the place.
“Right now this is definitely a need in this community, and the community has spoken that,” Wood said.
The civic center still is in the planning stages, though city officials say it may include swimming pools, splash pads, playing fields, weight rooms, an indoor gymnasium, a climbing wall, and theater, art and dance space. It also could also house charter schools and after- school programs, as well as areas for visual and fine arts.
“We need this project to keep our city vibrant and thriving,” said City Council Chairman Casey Fitts. “Residents are proud of their community, but they also want opportunities for civic gatherings and recreation, as well as after-school programming for their kids. Voters will have the opportunity to invest in the future of South Salt Lake with the Granite Community Bond.”
The idea behind the project is to create a focal point in South Salt Lake, which is what the city lacks, officials said.
“As a result of that long term of the bond, taxpayers are going to be on the hook for almost $9 million more in interest. And we think this is very problematic.” -Jackie Evans
“Our architects looked and said they’re great buildings,” said Sharen Havri, South Salt Lake urban design director. “If you want an arts center, a rec center and a high school, you have three buildings that are ready to go.”
What residents of South Salt Lake have to decide is whether they want to pay for it.
“A very small portion of our taxes actually go to South Salt Lake, so, this is perhaps a rare opportunity to pay taxes to our community,” Fitts said.
The investment has the Utah Taxpayers Association scrutinizing the terms of the bond. The group is neutral about the project, but many are concerned about the 30- year term of the bond.
“As a result of that long term of the bond, taxpayers are going to be on the hook for almost $9 million more in interest. And we think this is very problematic,” said Taxpayers Association Research Director Jackie Evans.
Granite School District owns the high school campus and its buildings, and South Salt Lake has the right of first refusal to purchase the property.
In 2009, city leaders commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of creating a civic center on the Granite High campus while preserving the character of the buildings.
“We’ve been studying, planning with experts and getting feedback from our (residents) for over a year,” Wood said. “This proposal is sound.”
The mayor also said now is the “right time” for the bond.
“This project improves the quality of life for our community,” she said. “It is a secure and smart use of public funding, and it can show economic development benefits for the long term.”