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John Daley ReportingRecreation versus open space, an interesting debate is emerging over a proposed new soccer park Salt Lake. A long time river advocate is raising red flags.
Salt Lake City voters approved the soccer complex last fall. The question one longtime river advocate is raising, is it bad for birds? Open space or open soccer fields, that's the issue for longtime Jordan River advocate Jeff Salt.
But Salt worries it'll prove to be the last blow for a river eco-system on the brink.
Jeff Salt, Great Salt Lake Keeper: "This is the very last drop in a drought puddle for this river. So we're killing the river by proposing filling it up with a recreational sports complex with parking lots, and nighttime lighting, and soccer fields. It's just a travesty."
Salt says fertilizers and development are putting unprecedented pressure on Jordan River wildlife. But supporters and the mayor say the project will be built in an environmentally sensitive way.
Paul Burke, Soccer Project Supporter: "We're pleased that we'll be to preserve over 200 acres of open green space in the Salt Lake valley, and we'll do it in a way that's environmentally sensitive."
Rocky Anderson, Salt Lake City Mayor: "My job as mayor is to help nurture both the natural and human environment, and that's exactly what we're going to do with this project."
Salt wants a nature center and preserve there, and a different site for the soccer. The mayor says the site won't change, but he would like a new center.
Jeff Salt: "Let's have a quality nature center. Let's protect the Jordan River. Let's educate our children about the environment. And let's have soccer fields. Let's have it all."
Salt's criticism of the mayor, who just won a major international environmental award, amounts to friendly fire. The group behind the soccer park says they expect to be able to raise their necessary 7 million dollars in the coming year. Whether or not a nature center will be part of the plan is uncertain.