Construction of the Chinese Heritage Gate in West Valley City will continue despite tough economic times.
The city council voted in late December to approve a $49,345 contract to build a foundation for the gate, which will symbolize the municipality's friendship with sister city Nantou, Taiwan, and commemorate the local Asian community.
The vote was 5-2, with the dissenters citing funding and policy problems.
Councilman Steve Buhler, who cast a no vote, said the gate is a "beautiful project," but noted, "I'm less concerned with the gate itself and this project than I am with what appears to me a lack of policy and direction for all projects. Do we build a foundation for everybody?"
The local Chinese community has raised $150,000 for the project, which has been in the works for more than a decade. West Valley City's contribution is building a pad on what was a vacant piece of grassy land at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W. 3100 South.
Ground was broken in July for the 48-foot-long gate and construction is expected to be completed in late summer. The structure will sit on an elevated plaza with stairs and will feature a center gate flanked by two smaller side gates. Red, black and other traditional Chinese colors will be used.
Terrence Chen, a native of Taiwan and chairman of the Chinese Heritage Foundation of Utah, said the approximately $150,000 it has raised for the gate includes a $10,000 donation from Nantou. He said the foundation will donate the gate to the city once it is completed and plans to raise more money to help with upkeep and other expenses.
The contract approved by the council was awarded to Newman Construction of Riverton.
Councilman Steve Vincent, the other no vote, said the city has more pressing needs, including a new fire station on the west side and a replacement for the closed Glenn Weaver Park.
"Building monuments is quite a ways down the list of things that we do as a municipality, so I'm struggling with this," Vincent said. "Although I do think it's a worthy project, I can't support spending these funds at this time."
But other council members said West Valley should stick to the commitment by a previous council to help build the gate. Mayor Mike Winder noted that the funds are coming from the sale of Cultural Celebration Center land and that the city has adopted a philosophy that money generated at the center stays there.
In addition, the Chinese Heritage Gate could lead to an increase in wedding receptions and other events at the center, which would bring in more money, Winder said.