Community members oppose plan to build Wal-Mart at old Granite High School site

Posted at 9:45 PM, Feb 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-11 06:31:37-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- A plan to tear down the old Granite High School and replace it with a Wal-Mart was discussed during Wednesday night's South Salt Lake City Council meeting.

In order for the development to take place, the city needs to change the zoning of the old Granite High School property from Historic/School/Open Space to Master Plan.

Along with the Wal-Mart, the new developers, Wasatch Properties and Garbett homes, plan to include other small retail stores, park space and about 80 houses.

More than 50 residents spoke out against the Wal-Mart during Wednesday night's meeting.

"Quality of life will go down with a Wal-Mart over there," said resident Heidi Bledsoe.

Bledsoe looks at the old Granite High School every day. Her house is right across the street. She said a 40,000 square foot Wal-Mart is not what the neighborhood needs.

"Traffic is already horrendous here at 3300 South, it is just terrible here," she said. "With Wal-Mart over there, we won't be able to get in and out of our driveway."

Bob Robinson has lived across from the school for 25 years. He said anything is better than looking at the old, asbestos-filled building, which has sat vacant since 2009.

"It's just been deteriorating and deteriorating, and everybody would like to see some kind of open space over there, reality is, money talks," Robinson said.

Currently, the city has a $800,000 sales tax deficit.

Danielle Niitsuma grew up watching Freedom Fest fireworks at the school. She said if they cover it with cement, that's 27 acres of green space the city will never get back.

"That's where memories are made in places like that, you can't make memories in a Wal-Mart," Niitsuma said.

South Salt Lake City Mayor, Cherie Wood, said she hears the community's concerns loud and clear.

"Many emails, phone calls, all day, I've been receiving texts, all kinds of things, our community, that area around there, they do not want a Wal-Mart," Wood said.

Wood said she understands why the city council chambers were filled with opposition. Like many of the people in attendance, she too was a student at the old Granite High School.

"This is a property that has been green space, that has been a school, a historic school in our community, and I really think that's hard to see go away," Wood said.

Granite School District is selling the property for $10.6 million. The developer will only buy the land if the city approves this zoning change.

The issue will be brought back before city council at their next regularly scheduled meeting on February 24.