This Saturday you can join members of Salt Lake City’s east bench as they walk the foothills and brainstorm plans on how to use city funds to beautify and modernize the southeastern gateway to the city.
Salt Lake City has allocated $75,000 to fund the Foothill Drive/Parley’s Way Gateway Plan, a chance for East Bench residents to help identify infrastructure improvements but also help create a common identity and purpose for the neighborhood. Since the process is at the very beginning, area community council leaders are encouraging the brainstorming to begin with a walk through the neighborhood. “You can drive [Foothill] all your life and not really appreciate it until you walk it,” says Ellen Reddick, co-chair of the Emigration District Coalition.
Reddick sees the opportunity as one for East Bench residents to get in on the ground floor of deciding the future that defines transportation, aesthetics, walkability, open space and more for the area -- a sentiment echoed by Pete Layton, chair of the Sunnyside East Association and fellow co-chair of the Emigration District Coalition.
“We’re looking at everything, from automobile traffic, mass transit, cyclists, pedestrians, neighborhoods—we’re just trying to come up with the best solution,” Taylor says.
Taylor saysthat when the plan is finalized it will be incorporated into the under-development East Bench Master Plan, the first time major planning for the neighborhood will have been updated in 30 years. The balancing act will be difficult, Taylor says, arguing that with as many as 45,000 cars using Foothill every day, he says transportation needs to accommodate those traveling to the University of Utah and downtown Salt Lake City while also making the large road safer and more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists.
Reddick also points out that residents need to consider use and conservation plans for open space east of the Bonneville Golf Course. “Deer, birds, and lots of other animals come down from the Foothills into our neighborhoods that a lot of us aren’t aware of,” Reddick says. “We just need to stop and say ‘Wow, this is our street.’”
Taking ownership is the first step, and both Reddick and Taylor hope that residents will take the second step by joining them on a walking tour of the street this weekend.
Walkers can start their tour Saturday, Oct. 17, at 8 a.m. from one of two locations: starting at the intersection of Sunnyside and Foothill Drive, or at the lot adjacent to Cowboy Grub, 2350 S. Foothill Drive. Participants need only walk as far as they want and are encouraged to take notes to share at a meeting, Monday, Oct. 17 at the Anderson Foothill Library, 1135 S. 2100 East, from 6-7 p.m.