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SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Council voted unanimously to fund an upgrade to the city’s 4th Avenue Well on Tuesday during its approval of the city’s public utilities’ 2020 fiscal year budget, but the project’s final design remains to be determined.
In addition to funding the project, the council asked for the city's public utilities administration to come up with alternative designs that incorporate concerns raised by nearby residents regarding the well housing size, the noise of an above-ground pump, and the overall impact of the project. The council also supported funding for “an outside engineering resource” to review any possible construction alternatives and “report on the incorporation of public feedback.”
Due to that decision, a public hearing before the Salt Lake City Historic Landmark Commission regarding its final design set for Thursday is now postponed, city officials said. A makeup date for that meeting has not been determined.
The meeting is considered one of the last hurdles before construction begins on the project, which city officials say is important and residents near the site have pushed back against.
The 4th Avenue Well has been in operation since the 1940s. The well is typically only used during the summer months to provide additional water to downtown Salt Lake City. It currently has an underground pump. The proposed upgrade would place the pump above ground and a 45-foot long, 16-foot wide housing unit would cover the pump.
It’s unclear if that will change the construction timeline. Jesse Stewart, the city's public utilities deputy director, told KSL.com last month that the department hoped to begin construction this fall after the pump is turned off for the season.
At the same time, residents near the pump voiced concerns about the building’s size, how loud it would be compared to the previous underground pump, and any potential health risks with the chemicals that would be used at the station. They hoped the city would consider alternatives to the plan.
"I sort of hope the endgame from this is a benefit for the whole city, not just us who live close by. If we can preserve this park as much as possible, everybody wins," resident Winston Seiler previously told KSL.com.
In a statement Wednesday, Mayor Jackie Biskupski backed the need for the project and said she hopes the delay will allow officials enough time to fix any problems regarding the project design.
“The criticality of this well cannot be overstated — this well allowed for the successful fighting of several wildfires last year near Victory Road, Beck Street and Ensign Peak. It also provides drinking water and fire protection for much of downtown Salt Lake City during the heat of the summer,” she said. “This brief delay will give us time to do additional work with the community to resolve critical regulatory, safety and water reliability issues that affect the general public and our dedicated water operators.”