'Personal park'? South Salt Lake leaders question neighborhood's exclusive access to city land

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  • blugularis Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 16, 2018 6:27 p.m.

    They left out that the area is a flood detention basin. It was formed by the US army corp of engineers in response to the floods of 83. That was where the SSL RDA got involved. Several of the properties abutting the ponds, regularly flood during the spring and summer. The area is a flood plain, look at the FEMA flood maps. The mean high water mark abuts several property lines. Boardwalks or stepping stones allow access cross the clay mud shoreline from the properties to the water. The area is a federal protected wetland and is a refuge for several migratory birds and wildlife. Also, SSL PD spoke up at the meeting. The area, prior to the fences, was crime-ridden. Camping, fires, dead animals, trash, burglaries, robberies, getaways, etc. The lack of access, wetlands, water, clay soil, and multiple parcels make policing difficult and dangerous. The HOA not only pays, for the lease, but maintains, cleans and insures the area, The area has been greatly improved since the gates went up and the area locked. It was not designed to be a park. The flooding, wetland, access and policing issues would need to be solved before the city could consider looking into opening it back up.

  • OlderGreg USA, CA
    Feb. 13, 2018 8:23 p.m.

    Why is no one speaking to the terms of the lease?

    I would think a lease provides an income to the owner (city, county, whatever) and provides beneficial rights of occupancy to those paying the lease (the HOA).

    A lease also generally spells out responsibilities of both to the property and to each other.

    There is also generally a time specified along with extending options.

  • WWilly Layton, UT
    Feb. 13, 2018 6:04 p.m.

    Sorry folks that is Public land and the Public Pays the Taxes for that land so that the Public can have access to it. The use of my Tax money for Your Private park and to build on to it is not what my Tax money is for.
    This area Needs to be opened up with the Rightful access that to public land as it should be since it is Also "Our" land.

  • mornixuur Layton, UT
    Feb. 13, 2018 2:48 p.m.

    @wall71121, who said "If you owned one of these homes, would you want people wandering through your back yard?"

    No. I'll admit. I'm human too and I can understand the advantages of the current situation.

    However, my read of the current situation here is that they want all the benefits of a gated private shoreline, without actually having to purchase the land. They want it given to them. (Rather, they want it to be continued to be given to them.)

    So, let's answer your rhetorical question with another rhetorical question. Should the city give these residents the advantage you've described, while you don't get equal treatment under law, and have to help fund it?

    These residents (and their HOA) should buy this property. And I find it insulting that they have not offered to do so.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Feb. 13, 2018 2:36 p.m.

    @Once was a Utahn wrote,

    "All you have to do is see the trash in the water and on the grounds at Fitts Park to see what would happen."

    That's an argument for increased maintenance patrols and penalties for littering at Fitts Park. It has nothing to do with Mill Creek. I'm sure that if Fitts Park were fenced and locked, with keys given only only to a dozen residents, that it would stay pristine, too.

  • wall71121 Taylorsville, UT
    Feb. 13, 2018 1:05 p.m.

    This is only a pond because someone put up a dam and backed Mill Creek up a bit.
    Why is this any different that any OTHER stretch of Mill Creek that runs through people's yard?
    It's 100 feet wider than most of the creek - that's about all that makes it different.
    If you look at the map, there's NO point of public access, no path, no nothing. People's yards (for which they pay property taxes) abut the pond. Only the WATER is public. The rest is private.
    The HOA takes care of maintenance. The city pretty much gave up control when they put in a gate and literally "gave away the key."
    If you owned one of these homes, would you want people wandering through your back yard?

  • Once Was a Utahn , OH
    Feb. 13, 2018 12:35 p.m.

    I'm really bothered by people on here who have strong opinions about the pond yet have never been there or experienced it in person. That's the only way to make a sound judgment. There is hardly any shoreline back there to accommodate the general public. We're talking slivers of usable land. We lived on the pond before the 2013 agreement. Kids would come in there and destroy duck and goose eggs at will, fences were vandalized, homeless people camped there all year long and started dangerous fires, and our homes were broken into frequently. Why? Because no one from the city can possibly police the area back there properly 24/7. The HOA takes impeccable care of the area and members put in dozens of hours EACH in the pond's upkeep every single year. I guarantee that you can kiss that area goodbye as an inner-city wetlands if public access is allowed. All you have to do is see the trash in the water and on the grounds at Fitts Park to see what would happen. Sorry to say, but with a large percentage of SSL residents "just passing through" on their way to living somewhere else, many of them don't care about the messes they leave behind.

  • MTR Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 13, 2018 12:11 p.m.

    Sell it to the HOA. Done

  • Mom of Six Northern Utah, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 4:14 p.m.

    I was a past homeowner is this community. I wouldn't stay because it was really no place to raise a family. Opening this up for public use would be a HUGE mistake. Does the city want to spend more money on police patrols near the creek? Personally, the city ought to buy up apartment buildings or fine the ever living daylights out of the apartment owners who allow so many of their tenants to be involved in criminal activity. South Salt Lake is already a mecca for crime due to its high-density housing, and slum lord apartment owners. If they want the homeowners association to buy the land near the creek and pay taxes on it that would be best for both the city and the homeowners who currently live there. If the city is in need of another money maker for the city coffers, fine slumlords who bring in the criminal element into the community. Buy up the scummy apartments near the creek on 3rd east, and sell those to a developer who could make it into the beautiful piece of property it could be with small shops and homes. What happened to all the money the city was supposedly going to make for tearing down Granite High? What a waste!

  • Ribizli Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 3:35 p.m.

    I "discovered" the pond a year ago. First I was upset, but I learned some facts about the pond.

    1. It is a flood controlling device. The pond cannot be sold and probably cannot have a boardwalk.
    2. As you can see on the map, it is not a contiguous property. Some of the residents have access to the pond. So, we cannot have a shoreline trail. During the spring the water comes up to the property lines of the residents property lines. No room for a trail.
    3. The pond is small. Any construction can endanger the ecosystem (and scare away the birds).
    4. The HOA is paying annual rent to SSL.
    5. This is not a unique situation. There are a lot of public properties completely enclosed by private property in SLC along the creeks. The difference is that here the property owners are paying a rent...

  • mrjj69 bountiful, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 3:04 p.m.

    i can see both sides of this divisive issue. Residents have a legitimate concern of allowing yet another area to be opened up to criminals and homeless. Yet, if it is public land, it shouldn't be reserved to a handful of people. I live in a typical neighbor hood where "anyone" can walk into my backyard. But my HOA doesn't allow fences. I think this is another "not in my backyard" situations, where people simply want to keep outsiders out, and keep it for themselves.. I find it disturbing that some have even felt entitled to build decks etc. on land that doesn't belong to them.
    The solution?? Not easy to find a balance. I think the suggestion of allowing the HOA to purchase the land, and pay taxes on it, is a good one.
    carte blanche access is a bad idea. Going back to pre 2013 conditions seems like the only fair solution...

  • Don Bixby Centerville, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 2:45 p.m.

    Everyone commenting one way or the other about how this land should be opened up since it is supposed to be public or that it should be privatized completely should stop for a moment and look at the comments they have made on stories about federally owned public lands (such as monuments) and their development and/or access to them. Are we for the people closest to the land getting to determine what happens to it? Do we want to see development on public land? Is broader public access important to preserve? If you would treat this pond differently than slot canyons in Escalante or Native American ruins in Bears Ears, why are they different (aside from a hyper-technical reading of the constitution)?

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 1:23 p.m.

    Shades of Clive Bundy.

    When public property is used as private property there should be justifiable and fair taxes to be paid.

    For the most part, people pay property taxes according to the assessed retail value. The property tax for residential property should reflect the extra value of its environment. It's only when the owner refuses to pay the proper tax or fees that a crime is committed.

  • PersonInUtah SLC, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 12:01 p.m.

    Stuck up selfish snobs. It's not your private park. Get over it.

  • mamamia Provo, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 12:00 p.m.

    Let them keep it private. People ALWAYS ruin things anyway, because they don't care or are careless. Let them keep it private. It has always been kept nice because they work hard and take care of it. Outsiders won't care to take care of it.

  • Tuffy Parker Salem, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 11:53 a.m.

    Siwik said. "But it's also important to recognize the entire community pays (taxes) for that, and there needs to be some equity that is fair to everybody."

    Just curious what exactly the entire community is paying for with taxes. The article makes it appear that the HOA is responsible for maintenance/upkeep. What other costs would there be specific to the property in question?

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 11:27 a.m.

    "fenced with a locking gate"
    Fence built on whose land? Homeowners or the Landowners? Sounds like the Homeowners Association paid for an illegal fence. Tear it down.

  • pharmacist South Jordan, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 10:35 a.m.

    This is public and should be considered and used as such. I see no difference of this and those who live by city parks, and or county ball parks.

  • midvale guy MIDVALE, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 10:29 a.m.

    The city should not sell them the land. They should have to lease it at current rates. If they want it they should have to pay for it.

  • Lets check the facts Santa Fe, NM
    Feb. 12, 2018 10:28 a.m.

    The area in the yellow border certainly didn’t look usable as a public area. Especially not school kids. I would love to see a teacher drop 30 kids down on the little yellow triangle and keep them there while they ate their sack lunches. Set an equitable price sell it or update the current lease with fair market value. Not a lot of energy should be expended here.

  • majmajor Layton, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 10:01 a.m.

    The HOA is renting the land. If the city doesn’t like it, don’t renew the rental contract. But it sounds like it is County land. If people built structures on the are owned by the landowner not the renters, if the contact doesn’t allow the structures then do something about that.

  • mnemosyne Gloucester, MA
    Feb. 12, 2018 10:00 a.m.

    I own a house 1 house away from this wetland. It was always open to the public and I enjoyed walking there. They closed it off and wouldn't give us a key even if we paid annual HOA dues [we were not in the HOA]. It was a a slap in the face. I pay taxes to support this area but it's become the HOA neighbor's private playground. People who bought houses prior to 2013 [the majority in the neighborhood], knew this area was open to the public. It's a scam that it's their own private area now. Some of the neighbors were quite rude about it as well. Open it back up or make the HOA pay for all of the upkeep, rather than having the City do it on the taxpayer's dime.

  • The Trooper South Jordan, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 9:46 a.m.

    I guess some people just can't sleep at night knowing there is someone out there that has something they don't. Seems nice enough from the pictures. I wonder what it looked like when the city was "maintaining" it?

  • Susan Quinton Draper, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 9:32 a.m.

    Oh this is funny! We were looking at renting in that same area a few years ago, and asked the landlord why it was so expensive compared to surrounding areas. She replied, “these are our personal, private wetlands. You can’t pay enough for what it’s worth to be near nature in the city, without the criminal element”. We agreed about the natural beauty, but eventually moved up in the mountains to be in a cheaper rental away from the air pollution.

  • Sad Sack Hurricane, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 9:22 a.m.

    OK, which was there first, the park, or the neighborhood? If people bought those houses after the park was already there, they don't have any complaints coming.
    If, the city came in and developed the park after the area was developed, then the homeowners and HOA have a good argument.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Feb. 12, 2018 9:21 a.m.

    Sure, it's a skinny little stream where Judy Mincher lives. But look on Google maps at the actual pond, and the area is much larger. And I am floored at the caption, "Lewis Galways stands on his property's deck on Mill Creek Pond". *His* property? When did city property--including the deck that Galways built--become his?

    This is Bears Ears II. Public property that the locals think belongs to them.

    And spare me the claim that this HOA spends megabucks worth of time maintaining this stream bank. Other than building their own personal decks and possibly picking up a few dead branches that fell, there's zero evidence of any serious "maintenance".

  • mr ed Hermiston, OR
    Feb. 12, 2018 9:17 a.m.

    Simple solution since the land has no development potential sell it to the homeowners bordering the property for the same price the city paid with a provision for school access plus prohibition on any building or further development The sale price plus necessary maintenance and tax fees devided between homeowners using or bordering it

  • Den Den West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 9:15 a.m.

    I guess it's no longer a secret!

    Get ready for an onslaught of new visitors!!

  • 1covey Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 8:25 a.m.

    It is public land, but from the information given, it appears the HOA members have maintained the area without cost to the city. If it is sold, the HOA should be compensated for their services.

  • Thomas Jefferson Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 8:20 a.m.

    Classic case of certain people getting more than their fair share. If I has exclusive access to public land without having to own it or pay taxes for it I would want to keep that going too.

    But the fact remains that this land does NOT belong to these people. It cannot continue to be their use exclusively by them. Either they buy at fair market value (and someone better make sure they get fair market) or they unlock the gates and allow the public access to the public's land.

  • PH Riverton, Utah
    Feb. 12, 2018 8:03 a.m.

    i don't have a dog in this fight so to speak, but it doesn't look like this small pond can be managed for the benefit of the public or handle a good deal of traffic. Just sell it to the HOA or property owners so the government doesn't need to worry about it.
    many homeowners have particular benefits with their property such as views etc.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 7:44 a.m.

    This is on instance that the government, i.e. the city should just plain butt out. Personally, the city council members should be voted out of office next election.

  • Justinstitches American Fork, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 6:56 a.m.

    Both sides of this issue have valid points. This area should be a protected wetland area and homeowners should have protection from campers and criminal activity. I love the idea of making it available for school visits. I think that meets the needs and concerns of all.

  • Gregory American Fork, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 6:01 a.m.

    I have owned property along an intimate public waterway (Utah County). Those of us along the waterway spent many hours of every year maintaining the area. City and county budgets, being what they are, could not possibly have maintained the area as well as the local landowners. Open access to the general public does present many problems for the landowners. Increased use will surely reduce safe habitat for wildlife.One possible solution might be for the city/county to sell the pond and adjacent land to the HOA. This land would be taxed as any other land, thus giving a little more money for maintenance of other more public parks.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 5:01 a.m.

    The word "lease" suggests a monetary arrangement, which modifies the taxation and public access issues. They article is absent any dollar amount, making it hard to determine fair value.

    There are water rights and environmental issues as well.

    This delicate dilemma clearly exceeds the ability of government to solve.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Feb. 12, 2018 2:26 a.m.

    It is public land paid for by public funds. If they want to treat it as private by restricting access and building private decks on it, the HOA needs to purchase the property from the public owners at reasonable market rates.