Salt Lake unveils plan to revitalize ‘neglected’ Ballpark neighborhood

After Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall finished unveiling a plan to revitalize the city’s Ballpark neighborhood, she slowly retreated to a tent set up by a local vendor where she had a drink called “water. spa “.

“There’s club soda, berries, lemon and lime, and it’s very refreshing on this November day,” she smiles, looking at her mug. This drink, which she got at a pop-up street festival at Smith’s Ballpark, sort of symbolizes what she envisions for this neighborhood in the years to come.

Mendenhall on Monday unveiled a draft of the city’s “Ballpark Station Area Plan” which, among other things, calls for a “festival street” – a place near Smith’s Ballpark where residents and local businesses in the neighborhood can hold public markets , festivals and other events that arouse interest in the south-central part of the city. The pop-up festival was just a “glimpse” of what the city has in mind, the mayor said.

The plan also calls for the construction of a new municipal library branch in the neighborhood and a reconfiguration of the Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX station at 1300 South to make it more accessible. In addition, he calls for efforts to make the area more accessible on foot and to find new uses for Smith’s Ballpark on non-game days.

Salt Lake City leaders and advocates for the neighborhood hope the plan will be a crush on the neighborhood that has battled crime and other issues in recent years. They want the atmosphere of summer game days to exist all year round outside the stadium.

“This plan presents an ambitious vision for the future of the Ballpark district,” said Mendenhall. “I believe this plan includes one of the key elements we need to move the Ballpark neighborhood forward and help it reach its full potential for generations to come.”

Inside the park plan

There are six “big moves” in the plan unveiled Monday, according to Mendenhall:

  • The creation of the Ballpark Area Transit zone in the “heart of the neighborhood”.
  • Reconfiguration of the Ballpark TRAX station to improve access from the west.
  • Added new level crossings and enlarged footbridges to improve walking capabilities on 1300 South.
  • Create a “sense of belonging” near the baseball stadium all year round.
  • Reuse parking lots and other underutilized properties to “add activity to the neighborhood”.
  • Invest in community facilities and green spaces to balance the growth of the neighborhood and improve the quality of life.

A “festival street” along the western temple adjacent to Smith’s Ballpark is one of the more specific ideas in the plan. The mayor said it will be designed in such a way that the street can be closed temporarily and offer community events and gatherings. Since the Central Ninth Community Council, the Urban Indian Center in Salt Lake, and the Utah Pride Center all have locations in the area, there are many potential events that others could host in the space in addition to the events. from the city.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall speaks at a press conference to announce new plans for the Ballpark neighborhood, including a new library, in Salt Lake City on Monday.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

“The Ballpark Plaza and Festival Street will meet the need for outdoor community gathering space,” she said, standing on a podium with various neighborhood vendors set up behind her to deliver drinks, food. and snacks.

The plan also includes the creation of a new public library to also meet a growing need for indoor community space. The city is still reviewing the locations and more information is expected in the “not-so-distant future” regarding the plan.

Citing a growing need for green space, the plan also includes ways to use Smith’s Ballpark during times it is not in use by the Salt Lake Bees and University of Utah baseball teams. The two teams, combined, have 85 games scheduled for the stadium next year, leaving many more days when things don’t happen. Because of COVID-19, there wasn’t even minor league baseball last year.

At the same time, the neighborhood and surrounding area only has about 2.88 acres of open space per 1,000 residents, which is lower than the city’s average of 3.5 acres per 1,000 residents, according to Mendenhall.

Salt Lake Bees ticket account managers Tanner Lund and Sam Cook review interpretations of new plans for the Ballpark neighborhood, including a new library, at a press conference in Salt Lake City on Monday.

Salt Lake Bees ticket account managers Tanner Lund and Sam Cook review interpretations of new plans for the Ballpark neighborhood, including a new library, at a press conference in Salt Lake City on Monday.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Salt Lake City Councilor Darin Mano, who also lives near the stadium, said the venue could be used for concerts or other festivities. Another possibility, he said, is for restaurants that cater to fans on match days to remain open year-round and for the pitch to serve as a picnic area.

“It is a gathering place,” he said. “We want this to be a gathering place for the city.… Sure, (we’ll keep in mind) the needs of the game of baseball and all that, but it’s a beautiful green and open space in the city that we can use more than these (85) days per year. “

Mano added that future zoning changes, investments in infrastructure and road layouts will invite new businesses and help make it safer for people in the region. Some of this is already happening in the region; for example, construction is well underway, shaking 300 West in the area, and the owner of the Coachman neighborhood institution plans to use his retail space for the redevelopment two blocks east of the stadium.

Two years of public comment helped shape the plan, Mendenhall said. However, there is no exact timeline for when these changes might start to happen.

What was posted on Monday may not be the finished project. The city plans to open a 45-day public comment period soon, possibly within the next two weeks, where people can add what they like and dislike about the proposal; they can also add whatever they think is missing from the plan. Feedback will be collected and forwarded to the Salt Lake City Planning Division, where changes may be made.

Once approved by the planning division, Salt Lake City city council will vote on the issue. Mano has said he expects a vote to take place in 2022; thereafter, the city will study the means of obtaining the necessary financing for the various projects.

Reshaping a “neglected” neighborhood

Developing a plan for the neighborhood seemed a bit personal to Mendenhall. She represented the district on the municipal council before being elected mayor.

“I ran for this job and was inspired, in part, to run for mayor because I know the potential this area – and even the State Street corridor – has for massive positive transformation,” she declared. “What we announced today is a real milestone that has taken a long time not just to talk about change but really how we’re going to do it with the community.”

The neighborhood has received a negative reputation in recent years due to “long-standing” crime and homelessness. According to Salt Lake Police Data.

The mayor said the plan unveiled on Monday shows the city is planning to make a “deep investment” in neighborhood assets, which she says will help the region thrive. As this happens, she believes it will eventually spill over and improve the problems associated with the neighborhood.

Amy Hawkins, president of the Ballpark Community Council, thanked the mayor for officially recognizing that the Ballpark neighborhood was “underprivileged” and had statistics that corroborated the stories she had heard from residents and homeowners. ‘companies.

“Now we feel we have got along,” she said. “We need these additional plans and interventions because we as a neighborhood have been neglected.”

An interpretation shows new plans for the Ballpark neighborhood, including a new library and street fair, in Salt Lake City on Monday.

An interpretation shows new plans for the Ballpark neighborhood, including a new library and street fair, in Salt Lake City on Monday.
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Meanwhile, Mano says he sees the neighborhood becoming more accessible on foot and by bike with the changes. He believes the plan will result in the Ballpark neighborhood “being the perfect balance between residents, local businesses and regional amenities.”

This gives the neighborhood the ability to look like a summer evening all year round.

“When the games are on, the neighborhood comes alive. It’s bustling and you see young families walking around,” he said. “I am delighted that this is happening at other times as well.”

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