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Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams heard many times Tuesday that his team's proposed sites for a new homeless shelter range from ill-advised to unworkable.

West Valley City Councilman Lars Nordfelt took it a level deeper.

"It's immoral," the at-large council member said, unblinking, as he and other residents encircled McAdams at the first of two county-run open houses on the five site finalists — all of which are either in West Valley City or South Salt Lake.

An animated Umu Tafisi spoke on behalf of her parents, who've lived near the proposed site at 3091 S. Main St. for more than 40 years, she said.

That all five proposed locations are west of Main Street "amplifies the stigma that the west side is where residents don't care," she said.

But Tafisi said her primary concern is that the process has been rushed.

That became a familiar refrain Tuesday — not surprising, given that McAdams has said the county was first asked to site a shelter in mid-February, shortly before leaders backing a collaborative homeless initiative announced an abrupt course change at the Capitol.

While Salt Lake City had nearly a year to site four shelters — two of which have since been withdrawn — the county has until March 30 to issue its recommendation to the state's Homeless Coordinating Committee for approval.

And, unlike Salt Lake City, McAdams has promised to squeeze in a "robust" public process.

"It's never too late to give input," he said Tuesday. "I hope people understand that we are listening."

Although some raised their voice to express their frustration, most were civil and thanked McAdams for listening, including Tafisi and Nordfelt.

"He listened to me," Nordfelt said after ending his exchange with a firm pat on McAdams' back. "He's in a tough position."

The layout of county-site posters separated residents from the two affected communities at the door to the Senate cafeteria.

Some West Valley City residents passed around a petition — "No don't do it," an early signee wrote — while others pored over maps printed by the owners of a business sandwiched between two of the sites.

Many South Salt Lake residents wore "NOT ON MAIN" stickers in opposition to the proposed site at 3091 S. Main.

Retired elementary school teacher Susan Bowlden created five colorful signs that articulated not only her objections to the South Salt Lake sites, but to alternatives elsewhere in the county.

Her favorite sign listed the regionwide services already housed in the city of 24,000: the county's metro jail, Oxbow jail, Christmas Box House and Grace Mary Manor.

It read: "Big Heart, Don't Break Our Back."

"I don't want to be the person that says, 'Not in my backyard,' " Bowlden said. "I think my reasons are valid."

West Valley City police Chief Lee Russo announced earlier from the eastern steps of the Capitol building that his department hasn't had time to analyze the potential impact of a homeless shelter.

He heard McAdams say on the radio that the county would get a better grasp of its services, a discomforted Russo said. "Every city or organization that builds a shelter says, 'Ours will be different,' '' he said.

If two West Valley City officers respond to a call at a future shelter, "That's 25 percent of my on-duty staff. Communities will be left unguarded because of this decision."

Russo echoed a point raised by South Salt Lake officials a day earlier: Municipalities won't get to site the shelter, but they will get the associated costs.

It was no coincidence that Rep. Steve Eliason, R-Sandy, was on hand Tuesday.

Eliason spent the better part of the legislative session working to garner support for a measure that would divert a portion of county property taxes to fund ongoing services at large shelters and — relevantly — reimburse affected municipalities at a rate of up to $900 per bed, per year.

Though his bill died in the committee that he chairs, Eliason said it could be called up in an interim session, given that House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, "was not happy that that bill did not pass."

Former Utah Rep. Fred Cox had a bolder notion that he shared with open house attendees, including Eliason: Gov. Gary Herbert should veto a bill that helps fund construction of the new shelter and two others already sited in Salt Lake City at 131 E. 700 South and 275 W. High Ave.

The county should then solicit a recommendation from each of its municipalities, Cox said.

Eliason wasn't impressed: It'd be "political suicide" for a municipal official to recommend a site, he told him.

Twitter: @matthew_piper —

Proposed sites

1820 W. Printers Row (2300 South) • West Valley City, southwest of Glendale Golf Course, 3 acres assessed by the county at $2.5 million.

2411 S. Winston St. (1070 West) • West Valley City, just south of Glendale Golf Course and just west of the Jordan River, 0.9 acres assessed by the county at $1.7 million.

2249 S. Winston St. (1070 West)* • West Valley City, just south of Glendale Golf Course and just west of the Jordan River, 1.9 acres assessed by the county at $330,000.

3091 S. Main • South Salt Lake, currently occupied by Utah Trailways bus services and less than a quarter-mile from a state liquor store, 1 acre assessed by the county at $400,000.

1144 W. 3300 South • South Salt Lake, adjacent to the Jordan River and James Madison Park and near the county's Oxbow jail, 2.6 acres assessed by the county at $3 million.

* Indicates a vacant lot