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McAdams to announce his top choice for homeless center on Friday

Published March 31, 2017 8:30 am

Conceding that "there will not be local support for any location," county mayor will choose one of nine proposed sites in three cities; state committee will make a final call in April.
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Residents in one of three cities in Salt Lake County will wake up Friday to learn where Mayor Ben McAdams wants to build a resource center for up to 300 homeless residents.

A 16-person committee Thursday debated the pros and cons of nine potential sites identified by the county in the past three weeks.

Ultimately, a state homeless committee will decide April 10. But if South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth read correctly between the lines of Thursday's meeting and the six previous public meetings, the shelter is coming to 3432 So. 900 West in his town.

"From day one I've predicted 900 West," Carruth said Thursday after the county selection committee deliberated for three hours. "They're going to select 900 West."

One factor that may support that conviction is that the site is one of the cheapest under consideration, with an assessed valuation of $127,000.

The state's Homeless Coordinating Committee will have the final say on whether to approve McAdams' recommended site under guidelines set in HB441, passed in the recent legislative session.

McAdams' decision will cap three weeks of debate among residents from West Valley City, South Salt Lake and Draper, where most residents who turned out to open houses said the proposed locations were bad for their cities.

About 1,000 residents filled a Draper middle school auditorium Wednesday night to angrily protest an offer by their mayor, Troy Walker, to willingly host a homeless center, which Walker said would be for women and children.

After four hours of raucous opposition, Draper's mayor withdrew his support for hosting a center, but McAdams said Thursday that had no bearing on whether he'd pick one of the two Draper sites.

"I'm tasked with making a decision understanding there will not be local support for any location," McAdams said.

Some on the committee Thursday said the proposed development to follow relocation of the Utah State Prison in Draper made it a good candidate for a shelter.

"I think there is a whole lot of potential with this development to provide the exact kinds of services that are needed," said Jean Hill, government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City.

Ultimately, though, McAdams said lack of resources nearby, including transit, might make the prison site and another at 15001 Minuteman Drive in Draper premature choices for a homeless center.

"My sense is it may be a great idea that's before its time," he said.

No site on the list was without its concerns for committee members.

Two sites in West Valley City are in the middle of a growing business park on South Winston Street. Hill said the sites were too small for an effective center.

Barbara Riddle, president and CEO of the regional Chamber West, said the two Winston Street sites were too close to the Jordan River Parkway, where homeless encampments already worry neighbors and law enforcement.

"There is a major concern with putting any of the facilities near the parkway system," Riddle said.

The third West Valley site, a building at 1820 West Printers Row (2300 South), was one of the most expensive options available, in part because the building would need to be razed.

"If we were to choose it, it would have to have other very, very compelling reasons as to why this is a viable option," McAdams said.

The county identified one site in West Valley City and two sites in South Salt Lake that were vacant. McAdams said it would cost around $12 million to $14 million to build a center on a vacant site.

Business owners and residents from South Salt Lake mounted strong opposition to locate a center at 3091 S. Main, an area city leaders said was a growing area of town.

The site is near a state liquor store, a pawn shop and gun store. It's also about a block from Grace Mary Manor, an 84-unit low-income housing complex for chronically homeless residents.

Putting a 300-bed center a block away would run counter to the state and county's effort to reform the homeless shelter model, and create smaller, inclusive centers that are spread out from each other.

"I do think this is perhaps the worst site," Hill said.

McAdams told the audience and committee to "read between the lines," and he moved onto the next sites.

South Salt Lake leaders and residents said they were already carrying more than their fair share of the county's burden, hosting two jails, two juvenile detention facilities and a sewage treatment plant.

About a third of the small city's property is held by non-taxable entities.

Rep. Steve Eliason, a member of the committee and Republican from Sandy, said if South Salt Lake were to land yet another county facility, the Legislature should provide extra resources to the city.

He suggested South Salt Lake look at options to revert ownership of the properties at 1000 West and 900 West near 3300 South back to the county to ensure it isn't responsible if there are costs associated with a center.

He also suggested the city look at working with the Unified Police Department to help city officers with any calls to the center.

McAdams didn't indicate after the meeting how he was leaning, saying he'd deliver his top choice on time and would let the public know his pick Friday morning.

Certain his educated guess will turn out to be right and the shelter is bound for 900 West, the South Salt Lake police chief said, despite his reluctance, his city would step up.

"He's put it in South Salt Lake," Carruth said, "and we don't fail."


Twitter: @TaylorWAnderson






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