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Open space in Salt Lake could get gas pipeline running through it


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A large parcel of natural open space along the Bonneville Shoreline trail, which Salt Lake City has battled to protect, could see a natural gas pipeline running through it. The city is fighting the proposal, hoping for a compromise.

The natural gas transmission company Kern River is expanding a pipeline. As it zeroes in on a route, its balancing whether to go through protected open space in Salt Lake or near neighborhoods in North Salt Lake.

For such a serene, quiet spot, the plot of open space in question has stirred up a lot of commotion. The land, at the border of Salt Lake and North Salt Lake, inspired a fight a few years back between the cities over how much development to allow. The cities compromised and Salt Lake put a conservation easement on part of the land.

Now, Kern River is building a 29 mile expansion of a $370 million pipeline carrying natural gas from Wyoming to Salt Lake, a pipeline slated to potentially run through the open space.

As one of the last undeveloped areas that was once part of the shoreline of old Lake Bonneville, Salt Lake wants it protected.

Ben McAdams, Senior Advisor to Mayor Ralph Becker, said, "It really is worth preserving, both for its value as open space but also for its geological uniqueness."

But North Salt wants to keep the pipeline away from its homes.

North Salt Lake Mayor Shanna Schaefermeyer said, "We want to keep it out of our residential neighborhoods. Moving it south through that area is a way to do that."

Another option goes through Bountiful, but Kern River's preferred alternative is somewhere near the open space.

Doug Gibbons, project manager of Kern River Gas Transmission Company, said, "At some point we've got to come down off the mountain. Where exactly that is, is something we've got to work out among the various stakeholders. So it may or may not affect that piece of property up there."

North Salt Lake suggests running it through the border between the cities, but Salt Lake worries that could undermine its open space protections.

"We're concerned about the precedent-setting nature of going through a corner of it, but it's something that we're willing to look at more closely."

The public will get a chance to weigh in during a public meeting Tuesday evening. That's at Bountiful High from 7 to 9 p.m.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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John Daley

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