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The City Journals

Wood delivers State of the City speech, unveiling new vision statement

Jul 15, 2021 11:19AM ● By Bill Hardesty

Mayor Cherie Wood delivers her 11th State of the City speech before a packed crowd. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Mayor Cherie Wood gave her 11th State of the City speech on June 14 at the Columbus Center. Wood’s speech covered two years because the pandemic canceled the 2020 speech.

Wood started her speech by noting that the City lost 29 residents to COVID-19. A moment of silence was held in their honor. Wood also mentioned the earthquake and the September historic windstorm.

“In my 12 years as mayor, I have never had to declare a state of emergency in our city, and last year to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our community, I did so four times,” Wood said.

She laid out a list of 12 of South Salt Lake’s “proudest prouds” for 2020.

  1. The Promise South Salt Lake program continued to serve the students’ needs and “even expanded to provide daycare for our essential workers” while schools were closed.
  2. The economic development team “continued to facilitate positive growth, including the completion and grand opening of South City – our first new office building in Downtown South Salt Lake.”
  3. New street lighting on West Temple at Harmony Park was installed.
  4. The community development team broadened the variety of housing with the hope “to expand affordable housing options so that our kids and grandchildren can live here too.”
  5. The Best Buy Teen Tech Center at the Columbus center was opened.
  6. The Civilian Review Board is almost a reality.
  7. The parks division “cut the ribbon on the Ida and Laurie Bickley Park at the Columbus Center.” 
  8. 2020 Census was completed.
  9. The public safety team “provided quick and effective responses in an unprecedented time.”
  10. The city provided community-building traditions like the Halloween “Spooktacular” and Easter Bunny visits by making them drive-through events.
  11. Receiving the Healthy Community Award from Get Healthy Utah.
  12. This past July, the City marked what would have been the 20th birthday of Hser Ner Moo. The mayor joined Moo’s mother to dedicate a new green space next to the S-Line named Promise Park. 

Looking to the coming year, she spoke about the city’s outreach to residents as the 2040 general plan is written. Over a thousand residents shared their vision of SSL through community values survey, numerous online surveys, focus groups, and small group discussions. The result is a new vision statement for the city.

“South Salt Lake is a community that fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion. South Salt Lake is a city of safe and enduring neighborhoods where people are connected to jobs, vibrant retail areas, green spaces, and each other. As the City on the Move, we take advantage of our unique location and unparalleled transportation options. We are a modern city that is home to parks and green spaces, clean waterways, and sustainable services and policies. South Salt Lake residents embrace diversity, feel part of the community, and share an enthusiasm for their small city with big opportunities.”

Mayor Wood spoke of nine upcoming happenings in SSL

  1. Creating the new department of neighborhoods
  2. Developing plans for a new dog park
  3. Increasing equity through the work of our Equity Council, including a new name for the Columbus Center
  4. Providing digital access for all residents
  5. Opening a community opportunity center allowing community members, partners, and non-profit groups to utilize resources, advance their careers and find tools for financial empowerment
  6. Continue to support healthy lifestyles with plans to provide more outdoor recreation opportunities
  7. Becoming a “greener and cleaner” city by starting an urban forestry program; implement a stormwater enterprise fund and utility fee to ensure our creeks and the Jordan River are clean and safe
  8. Adding new recycling opportunities like glass recycling bins throughout the City with curbside options as well
  9. Opening of the Granite Library

Wood spoke about dreaming big. 

“My vision for the city has always been to invest in people, celebrate South Salt Lake, and build great, inclusive, and safe neighborhoods,” Wood said.

She called for everyone to dream big and work together to:

  1. Attract the jobs that allow us to work and live in South Salt Lake.
  2. Prepare our young residents for the future by investing in the Promise SSL Department.
  3. Build a city recreation center.
  4. Expand local events (like Mural Fest and CraftoberFest) and create beautiful community gathering places to host them. 
  5. Create a new full-fledged community arts center at Historic Scott School. 
  6. Enhance and highlight the City’s natural resources, such as the Mill Creek and the Jordan River, with destinations like the Tracy Aviary Nature Center.
  7. Implement a speed reduction plan to make South Salt Lake a safer place to walk, bike, and drive around the City.
  8. Develop housing for all, including housing options for seniors, refugees, young people, students, and families.
  9. Attract more small businesses and support current small businesses “because they are the lifeblood of our City.” 

Wood highlighted that this spring, three outstanding first-generation SSL students -- Jabir Nasir, Asma Dahir, and Anisa Dahir -- became the inaugural college graduates of the Walkways to Westminster program. In March of 2015, Promise South Salt Lake partnered with Westminster College to facilitate a mentoring program. These three were sixth graders when the program started. In the program, they worked with mentors, became mentors themselves, and are now college graduates.

2020 State of the City awards (Detail information about the 2020 and 2021 honorees is available at sslc.com/uploads/departments/Mayor/BestofSSL2021.pdf)

  • Legacy Family of the Year – The Dahir family
  • Citizen of the Year – Lisa Burke
  • Senior Citizen of the Year – Roy Turner
  • Teacher of the Year – Ms. Lisa Price
  • Young Leader of the Year – Sevara Frederico
  • United Way and Promise SSL Partner of the Year – Learning for Life
  • Promise SSL Innovation Partner – Best Buy
  • Community Builder – Karen Wiley
  • Employee of the Year – Ariel Andrus
  • Council Champion – Portia Mila
  • Volunteer of the Year – Jason Ekstrom
  • Equity Champion – Fire Chief Terry Addison
  • Best Local Artist – Sugarpost
  • Best Business Volunteers – Marriott Vacations
  • Best Creative Industry Business – Level Crossing Brewing Company
  • 2020 Best Legacy Business – Orson Gygi restaurant wholesale and kitchen supply store
  • Best Friend of Youth – Free Bikes 4 Kidz Utah
  • Best Residential Design – Hawthorne Townhomes
  • Best Transit-Oriented Development Design – Ritz Classic Apartments
  • Best Lunch Spot – Sakura Hibachi Steakhouse and Sushi

2021 State of the City awards

  • United Way & Promise SSL Partner of the Year – Utah Community Action
  • Employee of the Year – Detective Neile Hill
  • Community Builder – Lela Stinson
  • Community Builder -- Laurie Hopkins
  • Equity Champion – Eddie Chacon
  • Citizen of the Year – Edward Lopez

Wood finished her speech by sharing five life lessons she learned from the pandemic life.

  1. We are adaptable
  2. A positive perspective is powerful
  3. Life is not a given
  4. Human connection is important.
  5. Kindness goes a long way