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Group protests sports complex prior to council meeting

By John Daley | Posted - Jan. 5, 2010 at 5:45 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Critics of a proposed new sports complex along the Jordan River are trying to rally opposition to the project. On Tuesday night, they plan to take their case to the Salt Lake City Council.

The much-delayed project has been in the works since 2003. The complex is supposed to be built west of the Jordan River at 2200 North, but Jordan River conservation advocates are now getting organized, with a new e-mail campaign and online petition.

The Jordan River Restoration Network held a rally Tuesday evening on the steps of City and County Building in advance of the scheduled city council meeting.

The group worries about damaging the last relatively large, publically-owned open space on the Jordan River. It says the vast majority of the open space once found along the river is now paved over. Members also raise concerns about flooding.

Opponents to the sports complex, including the Sierra Club, prefer a nature preserve and are urging the city to find another location. But Salt Lake City's mayor says other alternative sites are either too small, owned by someone else, put to other uses or not as accessible to major roads and transit.

"The soccer complex and the Jordan River don't mix. It's oil and water," says conservation advocate Jeff Salt. The site that's being proposed by the city is not a good site for the soccer complex. We should have a soccer complex, have soccer fields for kids to play on, but this is just not the right location."

But Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker says, "What we're looking at is having a sports complex that has been approved by the voters, and developing it in a way that is not only environmentally sensitive but enhances the environmental conditions that are currently along that stretch of the Jordan River."

The city council is considering whether to issue $15 million in voter-approved bonds for the soccer and baseball project. Real Salt Lake is kicking in another $7.5 million for the complex.

Citizens have a chance to weigh in Tuesday night at 7:00, and also at a public hearing set for Feb. 2.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com


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