By Kelly Keiter
SALT LAKE CITY - A group of urban developers and planners gathered Wednesday afternoon to announce their plans to beautify and clean up Pioneer Park. The Pioneer Park Urban Design team is convening this weekend to brainstorm ideas to improve the park, which has seen a lot of crime and attracted a large homeless population over the years.
At a brief press conference Wednesday afternoon, the Pioneer Park Coalition spoke about some of the enhancements they're considering for the park, including a large recreational field, a heritage garden and more accessible restrooms.
"What we're trying to do is create a [24/7] family friendly park that everyone can feel comfortable coming here," said Scott Howell, chairman of the Pioneer Park Coalition.
Residents regularly come to the park for the Farmer's Market and Twilight concert series, and the design team is hoping to preserve Pioneer Park's historical value and attract more people to use the grounds for leisurely purposes.
"We're kind of at a point where we need to think about this park as both a regional park and a neighborhood park," said Soren Simonsen, chair of the Utah Urban Design Committee.
CEO of Clearwater Homes Micah Peters recently built a new apartment complex on the north side of the park and says he believes his residents are interested in making the park a safer and more enjoyable place.
"We're highly vested in the success of Pioneer Park in the future and very interested in making sure it becomes a successful community asset," Peters said.
The group has $1 million in federal and city grant money to use toward enhancing the park. They're hoping to move forward with their plans once they get city approval.
The design team is hosting an open house for the public to give their input about what they would like to see happen with the park on Thursday, Feb. 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Big D Construction offices located near the south side of of the park. After they collect feedback and meet this weekend, they'll come up with a more solid plan.
The design team said the city is continuing to combat crime in the area. Last summer, they implemented a Metro Police Bureau to keep constant surveillance of the park. They're also almost finished incorporating security cameras, which they hope will also reduce crime. And, the city will continue to work with Road Home and other outreach programs to help the homeless.