Unfair for Pioneer Craft House | Letters | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Unfair for Pioneer Craft House 

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The Pioneer Craft House has been in its present location since 1950. It is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. According to the article “Pioneer Trek” [Oct. 17, City Weekly], the city attorney for South Salt Lake must not have been able to handle such a complicated legal issue as a lease dispute, so the city enlisted the assistance of outside counsel from Kathryn Steffey at the Smith Hartvigsen law firm. South Salt Lake should have their own incompetent city attorney handle this current dispute and save taxpayers some money.

As soon as South Salt Lake retained outside counsel, it was no longer looking for a compromise; it was searching for a loophole. Perhaps the reason the city retained outside counsel on this lease issue was because it had made such a mess out of the rent, lease or sale of the Granite High School property, directly across the street from the Pioneer Craft House. Looks like $1 a year is a good deal. They should try to get as good a deal on the Granite High School property.

I have been associated with a museum directly across the street from the Capitol since 1989. The museum is operated by a nonprofit organization that is a 501(c)(3). The building is owned by the state of Utah and is leased back to the organization on a 99-year lease for $1 a year. That agreement was initiated in 1950, the same year as the Pioneer Craft House’s. The argument put forth in the article by Steffey and the city of South Salt Lake that Utah law “requires that cities receive fair market or equivalent value when renting properties” appears to be a law the state of Utah deems worthy of consideration on a case-by-case situation when dealing with nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations. The law requiring fair-market value from regular commercial businesses may be an entirely different situation. The value of a museum, art studio, craft house, school, library or other institution for the public good should garner some consideration for exception, and it appears the state is wise enough to recognize those benefits and exceptions.

I’m not exactly sure why South Salt Lake is so intent on evicting Pioneer Craft House after its historic past and valuable contributions to the area, long before it was annexed into South Salt Lake. You would think one huge blunder at that intersection with the Granite High School property would have taught them something.

Situations like this make me happy to be a former resident of South Salt Lake. They just keep getting dumber and dumber.

CRAIG SMITH
Salt Lake City

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