Last smelter-era building the focus of city redevelopment
Feb 08, 2018 12:48PM
By Shaun Delliskave
Aerial view of the Utah Ore Sampling Company mill slated for redevelopment. (Photo Murray Museum)
By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]
One last vestige of Murray’s long gone smelter industries is slated for redevelopment. The Utah Ore Sampling Company mill has been approved as a community reinvestment project area by the Murray City Council. The Redevelopment Agency of Murray City has designated the area as the Murray City Ore Sampling Site Community Reinvestment Area.
The reinvestment area is bordered by Commerce Drive to the west and 300 West to the east, with 5300 South as the northern border and 5560 South (Anderson Avenue) as the southern border. The project area consists of 22.7 acres, 19.4 of which are included on 20 parcels within the area, and the remaining 3.3 acres are a road, roadway or other easement acres.
According to historian Ron Andersen, in his book “Salt Lake Valley Historical Tour”, “Utah Ore Sampling Company built this sampler in 1909. Consolidated mining companies did their own sampling. This was the largest independent sampler between Missouri and California. After the ore was crushed and analyzed for content and quality, smelters decided on the basis of the samples, whether to buy larger quantities of the ore. Ore came here from all over the West. Most of the ores sampled here went to the ASARCO smelter for processing. The close proximity of the two plants allowed the railroads to treat them as a single destination for billing purposes.
“The large ‘Thawed House,’ where loads of frozen ore were completely thawed before they were run through the sample plant, still remains. This mill was unique because it contained the only railroad spur that connected to both the Denver and Rio Grande and the Union Pacific Railroads. The company operated until the 1950s when the smelting industry in Murray ceased.”
The mill primarily sampled galena ore (a mix of lead and silver ore), but also sampled other minerals like zinc, cadmium, antimony, arsenic, and bismuth, which caused it to become an archived Superfund site. An archived site is one that the EPA has determined that assessment has been completed and no further remedial action is planned under the Superfund program at this time.
Since the close of the ore mill, the property, when not vacated, has mainly acted as a storage or construction yard. According to a blight study, “Crime rates in the proposed project area have generally increased over the last 10 years, peaking in 2014 and decreasing in recent years. The proposed project area generally has higher crime rates than a comparable site within the City.”
A public hearing was held on Nov. 21 regarding the adoption of a resolution for the plan and budget for the Ore Sampling Mill Community Reinvestment Area. State law requires that the city council evaluate and pass an ordinance adopting the plan. The council is required to identify the project area plan and the budget, which must satisfy several items including providing a public benefit, being economically sound and feasible, conforming to the city’s general plan, and promoting the public’s health, safety and welfare in this area.
Administrative Services Director Tim Tingey explained, “There was a blight study conducted in this area and it was determined that the area has blight elements. Because of that, there is a need for reinvestment in the area. With this plan in place, any tax collections that occur due to new investments in the area can be reinvested back into the area.”
The plan also identifies what the city would use those funds for, which includes enhancing pedestrian walkways with possible pedestrian overpasses over rail areas and cleaning up environmental conditions in the area.
The project area includes several properties with new developments, such as the TNT Guns & Range and Holiday Inn. The toxic mill has been discussed for historical preservation by Murray City and other, but the property's environmental conditions are considerations that have been weighed against it