NORTH SALT LAKE -- Work to stabilize a hillside where a landslide occurred last August will soon begin as the North Salt Lake City Council voted in favor of a plan that will utilize more than a million dollars in private money and more than $600,000 in city funds.
The city council voted 4-to-1 in favor of the plan Friday.
Work to build a massive retaining wall and reshape and reseed the top of the hill where the landslide occurred will begin in several days, even though several lawsuits regarding who is financially responsible for damages caused by the slide are still ongoing.
“I'm very pleased that we'll be able to get the whole thing remediated,” said Mayor Len Arave. “I think it’s in the best interest of everybody.”
The Mayor of North Salt Lake said the plan approved Friday is the best the city can do.
“I recognize that there are some residents that are gonna have problems with it,” he said. “They think we spent a little more, it’s a question of judgment though. We do own some property up there. I think we have some responsibility as a city to try and take care of it.”
The city will spend around $600,000 to help build a buttress at the base of the slide, and reconfigure the soil behind and above it. Questar Gas and Kern River Gas will each chip in more than $300,000, and SKY Properties will put in $625,000.
“We’re obviously very excited that this is finally being done,” homeowner Paul Evans said.
Evans lives above, and at the edge, of the slide.
“It’s been on-again, off-again for some time, and frankly we were losing hope that there could ever be any resolution,” he said.
Scott Kjar, SKY Properties VP, also spoke about the agreement, saying: “This is a win-win for everybody.”
What Friday's decision doesn't settle, is who's responsible for the slide and the damage it did.
“Everybody has sued everybody, and I'm not sure what the city's stance is going to be,” Arave said.
Claims contained in lawsuits filed by the tennis club, various homeowners and the property developer will still play out in court, like the one filed last Tuesday in which SKY Properties asserts that Evans' "excessive" water use compromised the stability of the hillside.
“We're outraged by it,” Evans said. “We think they're just grabbing at straws, and their claim against us has no basis whatsoever.”
“Nobody releases any of their claims, and we're still moving down the road, but we're getting the hill fixed,” Kjar said.
Work on the hillside should begin in a matter of days, and it could take up to four months to complete the project.
SKY Properties still owns several lots on the hillside, and the remediation could ultimately help them to regain the use of some land that’s currently not suited for building, but they said in the long run they won’t be making money off the deal, since the cost of their share of this deal, and other remediation like building a home for a family that lost theirs in the slide, amounts to upwards of $2 million.