A simple land swap Wednesday gave the University of Utah a place to put its baseball field and the Forest Service a site for its new ranger office.
But it only seemed simple.In fact, it took five years of complex negotiations and some creative wheeling and dealing by a half dozen government agencies, Olympic facility planners and neighborhood groups to pull it all together.
The focus of it all was the Forest Service's old Interagency Fire Center property at 755 S. Guardsman Way. Over the past decade, that prime piece of real estate has been eyed by a host of competing interests, ranging from U. expansion to Olympic speed skating oval.
But it was Salt Lake City's Open Space Committee that finally got the ball rolling five years ago when it began discussing the possibility of expanding Sunnyside Park. Led by former City Council member Roselyn Kirk, the committee proposed a land swap between the city and the Forest Service.
However, the city couldn't come up with a parcel the Forest Service could use. That's when the U. suggested it might be interested in acquiring the property for a use that was compatible with the park, said U. Community Relations Director Richard Reese.
"Roselyn Kirk took the idea to the committee, and that began a long convoluted process that led to the land swap," Reese said.
A man normally given to hyperbole, Salt Lake County Commissioner Randy Horiuchi called it "an absolutely unbelievable process."
He said when the city couldn't come up with a suitable trade, the county stepped in with an offer to sell the U. four acres of land at 6200 S. 3000 East. Situated at the base of the canyons, it seemed like a good home for the proposed Forest Service ranger district office, Horiuchi said.
"The reason it worked is because everybody was willing to cooperate."