For more than sixty-three (63) years since 1950, at the 1.68-acre Scott School campus, the oldest continuously operating school in Utah, Pioneer Craft House has taught cultural arts and crafts to thousands of Utah residents, including disabled Americans veterans.
The City's eviction knowingly imperils Craft House's successful art therapy program for disabled American veterans, who take classes with other students throughout the week, Saturdays included, in all five buildings on the campus.
In 2008, Craft House lost its education partner when Granite High School closed. Salt Lake County purchased the Scott School campus from Granite School District using $764,000 of Zoo, Arts & Parks taxpayer funding. Under an interlocal agreement with the County, South Salt Lake City became Craft House's new landlord and expressed its desire "to promote the cultural arts and crafts taught at Craft House." The City then drafted a ten-year renewable lease that provided Craft House pay rent of $1.00 a year.
The Great Recession hit. Faced with a looming fiscal crisis, the City's new administration has struggled to raise funds however it could. On April 4, 2012 the City wrongfully terminated Craft House's $1-a-year lease and imposed a one-year rental agreement with an unrealistic annual rent of $15,000, which Craft House managed with great difficulty to pay in full and on time. In April 2013, Craft House joined the City in a plan for developing cultural activities for South Salt Lake City residents and then proposed an affordable long-term lease. On June 20, Creswell wrote Craft House that the City would not renew even the 2012 $15,000-a-year rental agreement it had imposed on Craft House.
Craft House has been diligently seeking alternative space for its programs and valuable equipment. It has more students in more classes than any time in the past 15 years.
Craft House served a Notice of Claim on South Salt Lake for wrongfully terminating the 2008 ten-year renewable lease. The City responded with its notice to vacate.
Craft House filed its complaint against the City and its attorney in federal court this morning.
ABC 4 Utah attempted to contact South Salt Lake City Attorney Lyn Creswell and the mayor’s office for comment, but neither returned our request.