Abandon Simpson Ave homeless shelter project

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Dear Mayor Biskupski and Council Members, 


We are concerned with the legal, economic and public safety implications of the recent announcement that your city intends to build a homeless shelter in our neighborhood. While we heartily agree that providing resources to the homeless is a pressing need for the city, we believe the process in which the site was selected at 653 Simpson Avenue contained egregious errors and neglected to take into account many important factors which clearly show the site is inappropriate for that use. 


The Dec. 13 announcement of the four sites, meant to replace the Road Home shelter, was the first time the public learned of these new locations. This meant that there was no public input whatsoever of these critical decisions that will affect surrounding neighborhoods and businesses for years to come. This is the first of our objections: If taxpayer money is to be used to fund the shelters, why were no public meetings held? And, why was the City of South Salt Lake, a mere two blocks away, not involved in these deliberations? We believe the fact that Salt Lake City officials withheld information from the public in order to mitigate the fallout of choosing these sites -- without properly studying the public safety and financial impacts -- was an unacceptable action. 


Unfortunately the proposed Simpson Avenue site also bears the worst prospects of the four sites because, unlike the others, it will force the closure of at least two local businesses — including a day care center — in what is a RESIDENTIAL neighborhood! In fact, most of the immediate surrounding structures are single family homes, and there are also a number of large new and planned multi-family developments. This is a thriving neighborhood, and part of the newly revitalized S-Line corridor. The proposed shelter will further directly impact parts of Sugarhouse, South Salt Lake, Parley’s Trail and the S-Line corridor, and the Fairmont and Sugarhouse parks. These areas are on an economic upswing, and we want to know what the Salt Lake City did to determine that these neighborhoods would not be adversely affected by the well- known by-products in areas of other homeless shelters: increased crime, and a decline in livability — inevitably leading to decreased business and property values? Were studies done to determine the increased needs of public safety, and how the homeless could be successfully integrated into this neighborhood? 


There are many historically demonstrable objections to building a shelter at this specific site. And we do not believe that any evidence exists proving the success of a “low impact” shelter, even if such a thing could be carried out through current or future administrations. (Please see http://sugarshelter.blogspot com for a full list of supporting materials and factual analysis.) New residential developments and businesses in this neighborhood may fail if the area around the shelter produces the kind of drug use, loitering and public nuisances that have been seen near the Gateway area. Sugarhouse and Fairmont parks both are endangered of becoming the new Pioneer Park. People may soon avoid walking or riding their bicycles on the Pratt Trail, or using the S-Line Trolley. And longtime residents may decide to move away in fear of increased crime. 


Additionally, the City of South Lake may regret its recent substantial investments in attracting development to its City Center, also along the S-Line corridor. Our city did not win these advances at considerable effort, only to now face the prospect of having a nearby blighted neighborhood. We hope that our city representatives also will be similarly outspoken in their opposition to the proposed Simpson Avenue shelter. 


We would like to emphasize that we are NOT opposed to a shelter that is placed in a more appropriate location. We are an engaged neighborhood that has worked with the City of South Salt Lake on a number of issues. We would like to be part of the solution, if possible. However, until a more suitable site is chosen, we must join with our neighbors in Salt Lake City to request the Simpson project be abandoned.

 



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