Homeless shelter sites continue to anger residents

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Residents from West Valley City and South Salt Lake continued to voice opposition to the six proposed sites where a new homeless resource center will go. During a meeting Tuesday mayors from both cities said the process has been rushed and flawed.

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood held a press conference before hand to voice her opposition to a new proposed site added in their city. She points out 34 percent of their city is already tax exempt from county buildings.

"We've done our fair share," said Mayor Wood. "We have two county jails, we have two youth detention centers, we have a sewer treatment plant. We have everything nobody wants."

Mayor Ron Bigelow of West Valley City was also at the meeting to voice his city's opposition to how the process has been handled. He said the worry is the problems currently seen at the Rio Grande shelter will come to their neighborhoods.

"The site doesn't make the shelter work or not work, the site is simply a location," said Mayor Bigelow. "What makes it work is what you do in the shelter and around the shelter."

Mayor Bigelow said he plans to reveal "common sense" plan during the open house meeting at the capitol on Wednesday. He said the six point plan would help solve many concerns, but didn't give details on what it was.

Residents also note many of the proposed sites are along the Jordan River which cities have spent money trying to revitalize. They worry homeless camps which already exist could become worse.

Many have voiced anger at the county over rushing the process, while some have put blame on the legislature for giving such a short deadline to find a site.

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams was again on hand to hear from residents and answers questions about their concerns. The Mayor said they are trying to hold as many meetings as possible to find the best location before the deadline. He notes the timeline is not ideal.

"It's not something we asked for, not something I wanted to do but I was elected to make hard decisions, and to do hard work," said Mayor McAdams. "So we're here to hear from the public and at the end of the day we have to make a decision."

A committee put together will rank the sites at their March 28th meeting, but a legislative committee will have final say. We also learned the state will not have to get approval from a cities planning and zoning boards which will prevent them from stalling or stopping the process.

There will be another open house meeting at the Utah Capitol starting 6 p.m.

 


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