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The City Journals

Cottonwood Heights residents petition for open space on Doverhill Drive

Jun 01, 2021 10:35AM ● By Cassie Goff

Cottonwood Heights is urging property owners to donate the open space to the city. (Cassie Goff/City Journals)

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

The fight for open space continues in Cottonwood Heights. Residents are urging the owner of a former meetinghouse for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to donate their land to the city so it can continue to be utilized for open space. The property is located on 3625 E. Doverhill Dr. 

A main building fire on July 14, 2019 has led to the building being decommissioned for religious purposes. Church officials have decided to sell the property. 

Even with building damage from the fire, the open space continues to be utilized be residents and various community members, who hope church officials will consider donating the land to Cottonwood Heights instead of selling it. 

“City leaders and neighbors are urging officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to preserve a 3-acre park adjoining a fire-damaged church as open space,” writes Cottonwood Heights Communications Manager Lindsay Wilcox. 

Cottonwood Heights Mayor Michael Peterson wrote the Director of Business Process Improvement for the Church Scott Newbold on March 16 suggesting the park be set aside for public use, by way of donation of long-term lease. Residents are hoping for the donation. 

“The city would develop, operate, and maintain the open space. The meetinghouse parcel would still be sold and developed,” Peterson explained. 

Resident Joe Spataro started a petition titled “Preserve the LDS Meetinghouse property at 3625 E. Doverhill Drive” and is asking for at least 1,500 signatures from Cottonwood Heights and Salt Lake County residents on change.org. As of publication, 1,054 individuals had signed the petition. 

“While the property is managed and signed for religious purposes, its unofficial status as a park cannot be ignored,” writes Spataro, mentioning the parking lot, playground, climbing tires, grass hill and baseball field. 

The petition mentions how the property is in walking distance of the future Gravel Pit development, Ferguson Canyon Trail and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. 

“We intend to demonstrate a very strong case for preservation of this property for the benefit of locals and visitors alike,” the petition reads. 

Councilmember Tali Bruce was one of the residents who signed the petition as she commented, “It’s been green space for the community from inception. The residents are invested in this area. Leaving it green is the right thing to do.” 

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a nonprofit should be interested in giving back to the community. I support giving the park portion and a portion of the parking lot to the neighborhood,” resident Robbie Gale commented on the online petition.

“We don’t need any more new homes for all these California transplants. We need open space and parks!” resident Lori Stahler commented on the online petition.

“My yard backs up to this property. Both my kids learned how to ride bikes in the parking lot, we have worked on our baseball skills in the field, enjoyed sledding down the hills, and all the neighborhood kids seem to gather here. It’s perfect to socialize with neighbors we haven’t seen in a while and get to know new ones,” resident Idie Atencio commented on the online petition. 

Cottonwood Heights City leaders and residents recently learned more about the property’s history. In 1975, 30% of the cost to construct the meetinghouse was contributed by church members ($191,000 at the time; $900,000 today with inflation). In 1976, residents donated land for a baseball diamond. The surrounding neighbors also helped to fund the adjoining park which includes the aforementioned swings, climbing tires and grassy area. 

To learn more about the resident petition, visit: www.change.org and search “Cottonwood Heights.”