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The City Journals

Mayor Wood delivers 10th State of The City speech

Apr 29, 2019 10:49AM ● By Bill Hardesty

Mayor Cherie Wood presenting her 10th State of the City speech. (Courtesy of South Salt Lake City)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Mayor Cherie Wood delivered her 10th State of the City address to a large community audience on March 20 at the Columbus Center. The Mayor repeated her administration’s mission of investing in people.

“I take my job as a public servant very seriously. And as I see it, my job is to do what’s best for individuals and for the community as a whole. Sometimes that can be a delicate balancing act. I believe it is local government’s job to lead individuals to the tools they need to succeed,” Wood said.

The Mayor began her review of 2018 observing it was “profoundly a year of high and lows.” She called the loss of Officer David Romrell “the most painful experience of my life in public service.” She pointed out that “countless businesses and citizens showed up in big and small ways to show support” for the Romrell family, the city and “the family in blue.” In fact, the ceremonies began with emotional remarks by Police Chief Jack Carruth and a moment of silence for Officer Romrell.

After thanking her staff, she cited examples of how the staff along with other South Salt Lake City employees and volunteers invested in people and the community. She listed:

  • 200 residents, employees and volunteers from JetBlue worked together to fundraise and build a much-needed playground at Lions Park.
  • Fire Department employees worked with elderly residents at the Columbus Senior Center to write and implement a plan for fire prevention and evacuation.
  • Promise Family Liaison team members volunteered on their days off to assist residents with immigration paperwork to help them on their path to success.
  • Youth City Council, Promise SSL, Heart and Hands and community partners generously supported the Sub for Santa and Angel Tree which provided gifts and necessities in December for 71 families and 378 individuals.
  • South Salt Lake Arts Council teamed up with local artists and businesses and held the first Mural Fest and the first ever CraftoberFest to raise awareness and enjoyment of the Creative Industries Zone.
  • Promise SSL team saw a need to help get kids on bikes. They started a program to both train them on safe cycling and found donations to give them free bikes, helmets and locks.
  • The Arts Council coordinator got residents engaged in creative expression in 14 classes taught by local instructors in the new Creative Arts for Life program.
  • Community Connection staff organized 1,500 volunteers to revitalize neighborhoods, which saved the City $107,000 in volunteer value.
  • A police officer noticed a stranded vehicle blocking traffic and took quick action by spending his own money to buy fuel for the resident, then cleared out the traffic around them.
  • The 2nd annual Veterans Appreciation Reception was held which gave the community an opportunity to honor local veterans.
  • Neighborhood Nights kicked off throughout the city in an effort to hear from more residents, an example of the city government coming to local residents.
  • The Bike the Jordan River Trail and Float the Jordan River events introduced residents to the little hidden oasis in the community.

The Mayor also pointed out projects that will soon be finished including a new fitness park on Parley’s Trail, a large expansion to Fitts Park, an improved State Street crosswalk at Gregson Avenue, a renewed vision for the Jordan River neighborhood and the creation of the Best Buy Teen Tech Center.

For 2019, Wood is calling for an emphasis in three key areas – encourage quality economic development, update needed infrastructure and invest in keeping residents safe.

Economic development

The Mayor said, “The construction cranes are out in full force.” She highlighted the new county library planned on the former Granite High School property and the work being done by Tracy Aviary and Salt Lake County to create a nature center near the Jordan River.

“We are creating an urban village with housing, jobs and services,” Wood declared.

The downtown of South Salt Lake is reemerging with new residential, retail, and office developments on both sides of State Street and a mixed-use development planned for the Granite Mill property on Main Street including office space, a hotel and a future residential phase.

With the downtown well on its way, more resources will be assigned to “another area of great opportunity – the Jordan River Neighborhood at 3300 South.” While current development has reshaped the neighborhood already, “things are ripe for change and the City will begin working on a new master plan and studying how to create incentives for investments in this neighborhood,” Wood announced.

Infrastructure

“Safe and beautiful neighborhoods have efficient utilities, safe streets and sidewalks, comfortable lighting, and, of course parks, trees and natural green spaces. South Salt Lake’s infrastructure is literally the solid ground that we need to sustain and grow,” Wood observed.

After recounting some improvements in 2018 such as rebuilding 2700 South for safer vehicle and bicycle travel and planting trees citywide, Wood called for increased funding on infrastructure projects. She called out the city’s stormwater system as an example. She commended the two-person stormwater department who “fends off flooding, odors and pests that result from clogged catch basins and drains. They are responsible for making sure all new development complies with strict regulations and addressing new runoff, so we don’t overload the system.” 

“This cannot happen with the same tools and funding levels we have used in the past. Cities all over the nation have been kicking the can down the road in terms of maintaining infrastructure for decades. South Salt Lake has to break this habit. We must invest in our existing infrastructure and the staff to maintain it to ensure the City’s future success. We need to find solutions to storm water and other issues as soon as possible,” Wood concluded.

Resident safety

The mayor commended the men and women of the SSLC Police Department and the SSLC Fire Department. She provided two examples of how these individuals not only serve the community, but at times go beyond their job descriptions. 

She pointed out that “our South Salt Lake Police and Fire Department employees are paid significantly less than surrounding cities. I am not proud of this. It creates huge challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining our officers and firefighters. It also impacts morale and job satisfaction.” 

She declared that her No. 1 priority for 2019 is to create a sustainable funding source for these departments. In a recent work meeting, the city council also mentioned this is a priority as they began the FY2020 budget process.

Best of South Salt Lake awards

The event ended with presenting the Best of South Lake awards to residents and businesses.

  • Legacy Family of the Year: The Tonya & Rich Law Family
  • Education Leaders of the Year: Christine Christensen, principal at Woodrow Wilson Elementary; Milton Collins, principal at Lincoln Elementary; Valerie Berera and Malynda Cloward, the current and former principals at Roosevelt Elementary
  • Young Leader of the Year: Abdul Bari Ayubi
  • United Way and Promise Partner of the Year: Chevron
  • Employee of the Year: Lonela Robles
  • Council Champion: Ray deWolfe
  • Volunteer of the Year: Brynley Graham
  • Community Builder: Lesly Allen, SSL Arts Council
  • Equity Champion: Michelle Love-Day
  • Best Business Volunteer: Swire Coca-Cola
  • Best Coffee: Bjorn’s Brew
  • Best Small Business: As U Wish Events and Catering
  • Best Bakery: Délice Bakery & Café
  • Best Creative Industry Business: Beehive Distilling
  • Best Local Art Advocate: Derek Dyer
  • Citizens of the Year: The Codie and Travis Massey family

More details about these individuals and businesses can be found in the Mayor’s speech and the city’s website (SSLC.com).