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Granite High: community improvement or tax drain?


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SALT LAKE CITY -- The halls of the old Granite High School, which dates back to 1906, hold a lot of memories for graduates. But more than just sentiment is driving the city of South Salt Lake to buy the place.

"The city has never had an opportunity like this before to buy 27 acres and 200 thousand square feet of building," said Urban Design Director Sharen Hauri.

The city has plans to use the school as a gathering place for the community. There would be things like after- school programs, a charter school and a rec center, all surrounded by green space. The city would pay for key safety upgrades, which includes making the building earthquake safe.

"The dream would be to create a big, public park," Hauri said.


It was clear that [approval] hovered right around 66 percent throughout the whole entire process of people being interested in the city owning this property.

–- Mayor Cherie Wood


But for that to happen, South Salt Lake voters would have to say yes to a $25 million bond. The 30-year bond would cost South Salt Lake homeowners an additional $84 a year in property taxes, based on a $165 thousand home. That includes operations costs.

According to the mayor, a phone poll earlier this year showed most residents are in favor it.

"It was clear that [approval] hovered right around 66 percent throughout the whole entire process of people being interested in the city owning this property," said Cherie Wood, mayor of South Salt Lake.

But opponents say, the tax increase is a lot to ask, especially of struggling businesses in this tough economy. Ginger Fairbanks with the Citizens for a Responsible South Salt Lake said she'd like to see the city support existing properties, not create a new one. Fairbanks believes something like a private housing development in place of the school could do more for the city's growth.

"We'd rather see the 27-acre property used in a purpose that would contribute to the tax base, instead of take from it," Fairbanks said.

If the bond fails, the district, by law, has to offer it to other buyers, which includes the option to be sold for commercial use or housing projects.

Email:syi@ksl.com.

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Sandra Yi

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