Mayor Jackie Biskupski Gets An Earful At Neighborhood Council Meeting

Central City residents concerned, angry about planned homeless resource center

Salt Lake City - SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah News) - For the second straight night Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski heard the wrath of angry residents who live near a planned homeless resource center. On Tuesday night, it was from Sugarhouse residents and on Wednesday it was from people who live near the proposed facility at 131 East, 700 South.

The Mayor said she came to the Central City Neighborhood Council meeting to listen and attendees gave her an earful.

"The drug issue surrounding Rio Grande is real and it is already spilling in to our neighborhoods," one man complained.

They're worried about the new resource facility's impact.

"People are of course concerned about crime particularly drug use," Council Chairman Michael Iverson told ABC4 Utah News. "We have heard from some new people who are quite angry about it and particularly angry at the process and what they see as a lack of transparency."

Bernie Hart said he lives about a block and a half from the 700 South site and questions the City's strategy of closing The Road Home and opening four new resource centers.

"Without a solution to what we're dealing with we're just moving the problem somewhere else," Hart said. "That's what these people are afraid of."

Mayor Biskupski admitted she doesn't know how the 125 bed facility will affect nearby property values.

"When we have answers to those questions, we will get back to you on that so please know we are looking into it," the Mayor said.

"You just told us that you haven't studied the impact on my house value before making a decision," homeowner Curt Hamilton said.

The Mayor tried to press forward but was interrupted.

"Change creates fear but we also know...Let me...can I speak?" the Mayor said at one point.

"You didn't give us a chance to speak in this process so don't be too surprised by the reaction you're getting," one man replied.

"Look. We will not get anywhere tonight if I can't answer people's questions," the Mayor responded.

"You haven't answered questions. You haven't answered them," another man shouted.
 
"OK well and if you feel that way I can move on to the next community council," the Mayor said.

"She hasn't addressed any of the questions being asked and that's very frustrating," Hamilton said. "I think people are getting more frustrated by it. She was called out for not answering the questions she stated that she would just leave if people were angry. I don't think that's any way a mayor or any leader should deal with issues or angry citizens is to threaten to leave."

The City has scheduled three public meetings on the homeless resource centers this month:

-Wednesday, January 11th 1-3 pm at the Salt Lake Community College South Campus Multipurpose Room, 1575 South State Street
-Wednesday, January 11th 6-8 pm at the Salt Lake Community College South Campus Atrium, 1575 South State Street
-Wednesday, January 18th 7-9 pm at the Nibley Park Elementary School Auditorium, 2785 South, 800 East


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