WEST VALLEY CITY When Doris Wall moved into her West Valley City neighborhood 45 years ago, the houses were new, the lawns were manicured and everything had that 1960s sparkle.
Now her home isn't far from an area that's notorious for having high turnover, weeds and more than a few broken cars parked on the front lawns. It's the kind of area that West Valley City wants to clean up with a new Community Preservation Department one more neighborhood Wall wants the city to fight for in her crusade to redeem West Valley's faltering reputation.
"West Valley does a lot of good things, and I get so sad and so tired of people saying, 'Don't move out there. It's really bad,"' Wall said. "It isn't. I wish people wouldn't give us such a bad rap because it's really not that bad. It really isn't."
As much as Wall an involved resident and chairwoman of the local Neighborhood Watch loves West Valley, she still admits there are areas in the city that need help. That need is the primary reason city manager Wayne Pyle drafted an executive order that created the new department that will devote more resources to keeping the city clean.
The Community Preservation Department will combine several existing city divisions, like code enforcement, animal services and housing, under one umbrella. The new department will receive the existing budget allocations given to those departments plus an additional $400,000 in funds. A one-time $300,000 shot-in-the-arm for startup costs has also been approved by the city.
Pyle says the department's new director, Layne Morris, will hire more code enforcement officers including an officer who will focus only on graffiti removal and establish a method of measuring whether the new department is having an impact on improving the city.
"We don't have a real measurement or benchmarking system that says this is what the shape is of the whole city in terms of a neighborhood or a block, and we need to establish a baseline measure for whether we're improving," Pyle said. "We've tried to make some changes over the last few years, but until this past year (code enforcement) never rose to the level of priority that it did this year."
Morris, a West Valley City employee for 13 years, hopes to have a measuring system in place by July.
"The thing that excites me most about (the Community Preservation Department) is the chance to accomplish something that our residents have, frankly, demanded of us," Morris said. "Our job will be to promote (city ordinances) through education and fairly enforce the city's ordinances instead of just being so under-manned that we can barely keep up with some of the complaints."
The city's image is important to Morris and Pyle, but they say they care more about what their own residents think of living in the city. Wall definitely cares what outsiders think about the city."I want people to come down my street and say, 'Oh, this is a nice area,"' Wall said. "I don't want people that do crime to come down and say, 'These people don't care so we can do crime.' ... We're good people. We do care, and (West Valley City) is a good place to live. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else."