SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah will construct a new $13.8 million public safety building — part of the university’s ongoing effort to improve its safety image following the 2018 on-campus killing of student Lauren McCluskey.
The university's board of trustees unanimously approved designing and constructing the building at a meeting Tuesday. It is slated to be completed in December 2021, according to project proposal documents presented at the meeting.
“I think everybody around this table is aware of the significant investments we’ve made in public safety across the campus,” University of Utah President Ruth V. Watkins told trustees at the meeting. “This is an action that we want to move on now and we need to move on now.”
The proposed site for the building is on 500 South just east of Guardsman Way, in an area that is currently occupied by a parking lot. The site has good access to campus roads but will require about 125 parking and tailgating spots to be relocated, the project plans say.
It will replace the current public safety headquarters, located in a former army barracks building on campus. That building, along with an annex building that is also part of the public safety headquarters, will be demolished after the new building is finished.
“Anybody who’s visited or who would like a tour of our public safety building, I think, would add their endorsement to the need for change,” Watkins said at the meeting.
Among the features of the new one-story building will be a community room for use by the public who come into the building. The plans also include areas typically found in a public safety or law enforcement building, such as evidence storage, training, investigations and a fitness area.
The total area for the site, including a second storage building also planned for the location, is just over 25,000 square feet. It will be paid for using institutional reserve funds and won’t require any additional money from the state of Utah.
Following McCluskey’s death, an independent review of U. campus safety came up with 30 recommendations for improvements that could be made. One was considering a new location or renovated facility for campus safety.
The U. created a website that includes all 30 recommendations and details on their status: safeu.utah.edu.
Wednesday happens to be Lauren McCluskey’s birthday, her mother, Jill McCluskey, said on Twitter. Lauren would have been 23 years old.
“Thanks to everyone who lets her light shine through them with kindness to others & working for positive change,” Jill McCluskey wrote Wednesday on Twitter.