Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis says the best location for an Olympic speed-skating oval is adjacent to the University of Utah.
Over protests, DePaulis made that announcement to neighborhood residents at a meeting Monday evening. But his plan got a better reception from the Utah Sports Authority Tuesday morning.Sports Authority Chairman Ian Cumming asked that the project "proceed with great hurry so there is no question on behalf of the IOC that we have the site and it's ready to go."
Authority members accepted the mayor's recommendation and agreed to help negotiate with the University of Utah, the Veterans Administration and other authorities.
DePaulis' recommendation is to locate the oval north of the Steiner Aquatic Center at 500 South and Guardsman Way.
"After five months of meetings and hearings, planning sessions and visits to Canada and Japan to see similar skating facilities, I think this site is the best one in the city for the speed-skating rink," DePaulis said.
The city is ready to build the $5 million open-air structure and parking facilities, with money set aside for construction.
Not everyone in the audience agreed, including City Councilman L. Wayne Horrocks. Many of the 150 who attended the 1 1/2-hour meeting at the National Guard Armory at Guardsman Way, southwest of the proposed site, suggested other sites. Horrocks, who represents a west-side council district, said the mayor's plan "betrays the west side. The west side asked for the skating rink and has the perfect place for it."
Don Gren, a Salt Lake Community College teacher who lives at 1300 East and 700 South, said he and other members of the Save Our Neighborhood group are discussing hiring a lawyer and going to court to stop construction of the skating track.
Gren said more than 300 people have signed a petition asking that the skating track not be built near Guardsman Way and 500 South. Gren suggested that a 90-acre site near the City Parks Department headquarters, 1965 W. 500 South, would be a better location.
DePaulis said if Salt Lake City is selected as the site of the 1998 Winter Olympic Games, the speed-skating facility would be covered, other supporting facilities would be built next to it and additional parking facilities will be constructed - probably at a cost of $20 million to $30 million more.
He told the audience Monday he would propose several conditions to the Sports Authority, including:
- Oval design - a city design review committee, with neighborhood representation, should be created to address the mass and scale of the building.
- Height - reasonable height restrictions are encouraged.
- Mass and scale - to reduce the impact of the structure, extensive grading, berming and landscape treatments are required.
- Construction - all phases of construction should comply with Salt Lake building and development ordinances. A building permit will be required to ensure compliance to site requirements and design approval. All construction vehicles should be required to use 500 South Street to access the site at Guardsman Way.
- Green space - all U.S. Forest Service land not used for parking should be used for additional park improvements.
DePaulis promised the city will develop a long-range traffic master plan addressing the cumulative effect of growth at the University of Utah and Guardsman Way facilities.
In the near future, he said, the city will modify the 900 South and 1500 East intersection to better control traffic movement and speeds and design a cul-de-sac on Amanda Avenue just south of Sunnyside.
In the distant future, he said, the city will construct a traffic island system to prevent north-south traffic movements at the Sunnyside and Guardsman intersection. In addition, the city, in conjunction with the state, will implement a reversible lane system along 1300 East.
A Japanese video film crew recorded the Monday night meeting and and said they would broadcast the video in Nagano, Japan, which observers say is the leading contender for the 1998 Games.