Monday, 06 March 2017 21:52

‘Trickle Up’ politics: change begins in our neighborhood

Restore photo cap: Jade Sarver, lead organizer of Restore North Temple, speaks with attendees of their first open house held at the Utah State Fairpark last October.  Photo Charlotte Fife-Jepperson||| Restore photo cap: Jade Sarver, lead organizer of Restore North Temple, speaks with attendees of their first open house held at the Utah State Fairpark last October. Photo Charlotte Fife-Jepperson||| |||

by Nigel Swaby

Restore NorthTemple OutlinedNational elections receive a lot of attention and money yet don’t impact the day-to-day lives of America’s citizens nearly as much as local policies and politics. After the contention and fatigue of a hard-fought election like the one we just went through, people tend to respond by either completely withdrawing or recommitting to their causes with new resolve.

If you’re committed to making the world a better place, there is a movement building on Salt Lake’s west side that’s rapidly picking up steam. Founded in August, Restore North Temple is a grassroots organization designed to make the neighborhoods west of downtown safer, cleaner, and more economically successful.

Two major problems face the North Temple corridor. First, many local businesses integral to the neighborhood were forced to close or move while the TRAX light rail line was built. Second, an increase in homeless people in downtown is overflowing into North Temple neighborhoods because of proximity and cheap motels. These motels enable crime, drug use and prostitution to take place.

Restore North Temple hopes to combat these negatives by bringing all the stakeholders of these neighborhoods together to reduce crime, beautify the area and encourage business development. The organization hopes to spread the message and strategies of Restore North Temple to surrounding neighborhoods but chose this particular area because of its strategic importance to Salt Lake City.

As a main corridor, North Temple serves as a gateway to downtown Salt Lake City. Whether visitors who have flown into town take TRAX or a rental car, the North Temple neighborhoods are the first thing they see representative of Salt Lake. Right now, it’s not a good first impression.

Area leaders are keenly aware of these issues. Locally elected city and state representatives James Rogers, Andrew Johnston and Sandra Hollins are all officially on board to support Restore North Temple. The the State Legislature’s renewed interest in the Fair Park through its $18 million dollar investment into a new stadium will bring more out-of-town visitors to the area and is another reason to support this area. Development of a Tracy Aviary nature center at the Fair Park and a hotel have recently been discussed.

Salt Lake City government previously allocated money to North Temple redevelopment but a recent decision by the City Council to recommit money to address the homeless issue has tied up funds for North Temple and created new public controversy regarding how the city responds to a growing homeless population.

While Jade Sarver, founder of the Restore North Temple initiative, is opposed to having another resource center on the west side, he explained how they can be low profile. He cited the Boys and Girls Club, YWCA and The Inn Between as examples of centers that provide services without disrupting their surroundings.

Sarver's short-term goals for Restore North Temple are to increase the number of Neighborhood Watch groups and improve the public's perception of the west side neighborhoods it wants to improve. Over 200 people attended a kickoff event last October with exhibits from local businesses, Salt Lake City Police and representatives from City Hall.

Besides participating in a neighborhood watch program, Sarver suggests residents attend their neighborhood’s community council meetings. To learn more about the Restore North Temple effort, and ways to stay informed and participate in local government, visit their website at www.restorenorthtemple.com.