Increased police presence to be brought to Pioneer Park

Posted at 9:51 PM, May 20, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-20 23:51:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Alongside the growing businesses in Salt Lake City is a growing concern from their owners.

“We’ve recognized that there is a problem around the park,” said Jacob Ballstaedt, a local real estate developer.

Ballstaedt has been trying to build an apartment building at 356 S. 400 West, but its neighbor, Pioneer Park, has halted any construction.

“It affected our ability to get financing for the building,” Ballstaedt said. “Several local banks would not finance the building because of its proximity to the park and the problems with the park.”

It’s what prompted him to team up with area businesses and create the Pioneer Park Coalition, a group aimed at coming up with solutions to the nearby problems.

“If something is going to happen with the park it’s going to happen with all of our efforts,” Ballstaedt said.

The effort began inside a Salt Lake City Council work session on Tuesday afternoon, where Police Chief Chris Burbank unveiled a new plan to combat the increased crime with an increased police presence.

“You’ll have narcotics officers. You’ll have detectives in the area. You’ll have motorcycle officers. You’ll have bicycles officers, patrol officers,” Burbank said.

The department plans to assign anywhere from 70 to 100 officers, who are already on staff, to an area around Pioneer Park.

“It will be from North Temple to about 700 South, and from I-15 eastbound to about State Street,” Burbank said. “It represents anywhere between 20- 30 percent of our time and energy spent in the area. So, about 20-30 percent of our resources should be focused in the area.”

The officers will report to one commander in a new Metro Support Bureau, which would be located somewhere nearby in space donated by area businesses.

“We’re getting a lot of feedback from our homeless population that they’re being victimized,” Burbank said. “That’s not the way life should be. And so, what we’re going to try and do is just change how we do business a little bit."

It’s a change that could get rid of what is hurting businesses.

“We’ve had crack pipes and we’ve had needles and stuff down there, people actually down there we’ve had to move,” said Jennifer Sagers, a manager at the restaurant Vivace.

While some council members expressed concern about pushing the problem into another area, law enforcement officials said they will go wherever the crime goes.

“This is the first of many steps that will help improve things,” Ballstaedt said.