(KUTV) — Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams stood in the state capitol for several hours Saturday afternoon and listened to furious citizens and municipal leaders who are trying to stop a homeless shelter from coming to their neighborhoods.
McAdams said the current list of sites in South Salt Lake and West Valley City could be expanded to include other options, but it would have to happen in the next few days.
“The legislature told us that contingent on receiving this money was that Salt Lake County would identify a site by March 30,” McAdams said.
The county mayor was the target of steep anger from leaders of West Valley who said they were deceived when they supported legislation to give the county the power to choose the sites for a new homeless shelter.
“What I was assured was that there is no way that this will be forced on a community,” Senator Daniel Thatcher (R)-West Valley said Saturday.
Thatcher initially opposed the last-minute legislation, but supported it on the final days of the 2017 session.
“Imagine how betrayed I felt when the next morning, literally 12 hours after the gavel dropped and the legislature was out of session, our county mayor comes out and says ‘oh, by the way I ‘ve already picked the 5 final sites,’” Thatcher said.
Thatcher’s colleague, Sen. Karen Mayne (D)- West Valley City, also said she had no idea that three sites were already selected in West Valley City.
- 3091 S. Main St, South Salt Lake
- 1144 W. 3300 South, South Salt Lake
- 1820 W. Printers Row, West Valley City
- 2249 South 1070 West, West Valley City
- 2411 South 1070 West , West Valley City
West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow says the county’s attempts to “listen” to the angered residents at a series of town hall meetings are disingenuous – adding no other municipalities in the county are being considered.
“Where are all the other cities, what are they doing? They are not participating at all,” Bigelow said. “You can’t just drop it anywhere, work with us is all we ask.”
Alongside the municipal leaders was a contingent of angry citizens who live near the proposed sites.
“You can’t pick a site and then say ‘we’ll figure it out when it happens, that’s not acceptable,” West Valley resident Rachel Baker said. “It gets decided without my consent, without my input, by people who don’t live in the community who picked these sites based on what was cheap and available.”
Baker faced off with McAdams and asked him directly if he had been to the sites in question. He responded that he had been to them multiple times and said he acknowledged the concerns of the residents who live near the sites.
“We’re always looking for new sites, we encourage members of the public who may have ideas for new sites to bring them forward,” McAdams said.
The next public meeting about the proposed sites is on Tuesday, March 21 at the Utah Cultural Celebration Center at 1355 West 3100 South from 6-8 p.m.
The county plans to have a site selected by March 28th, and submit the site to state homeless coordinators on March 30.