SL Co. Mayor unveils pick for new homeless shelter site

Posted at 9:20 AM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 19:30:17-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE -- Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams has recommended a site near 3300 South and 1000 West as the choice for a new homeless shelter in the area.

The pick comes after weeks of scrutiny and a lot of public pushback against a number of proposed sites in a series of fast-paced public hearings.

In a letter to Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox on Friday, McAdams said the site is the best of those under consideration.

Read the letter here:

"This was not an easy decision and, as I've said consistently, there is no perfect location to place this," Mayor McAdams said at a news conference Friday.

The vacant, county-owned plot of land near the Jordan River Parkway and the Salt Lake County Jail is surrounded by a handful of homes just off 3300 South.

Ryann Ringel said Mayor McAdams knocked on her door this morning to give her the news. She lives next door to the proposed shelter site and told FOX 13 she was disappointed with his decision.

"He did say I would be compensated," she said. "That was the word he used, 'compensated.'"

Asked if she would sell, Ringel said: "why not?"

"Why fight the county? South Salt Lake can't," she said.

A lot near 3300 S. 1000 W. in South Salt Lake that is the proposed site for a new homeless shelter. (Photo by Ben Winslow, FOX 13 News)

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood was infuriated by the shelter decision.

"Today, the community of South Salt Lake was dealt a lethal blow," the mayor said at her own news conference.

Visibly upset, Mayor Wood said the decision to place a shelter there hinders their work to improve the community. She said developers have told her they won't build with a shelter nearby and there's concerns about criminal activity on the Jordan River Parkway.

Mayor Wood acknowledged they may not be able to sue to stop it, but vowed a fight on behalf of her constituents, wanting more to be done to improve her community.

"We will block it every way that we need to until we have those promises in place, those commitments, investments in our community in place," she said.

Mayor McAdams insisted that any new shelter will not be what people see in Salt Lake City's Rio Grande neighborhood that led to the crisis situation.

"A lot of those assurances can be accommodated in the design of the facility where food will be on site, some of the learning will be available on site," he said. "We have funding from the state already in place to ensure this facility has resources to have staffing and counseling and job placement and other services."

The Utah State Legislature has funded $27 million to help the homeless crisis. Originally, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced four shelter sites in the city. After pushback from Sugar House residents, lawmakers abandoned two sites and opted to build one outside Salt Lake City.

That led to a series of heated meetings in communities under consideration for the new shelter site. McAdams said he is willing to live with political consequences of his decision to help those in need.

"I knew when I accepted this task this would not come without consequences to me personally," he said. "But this isn't about me personally. It's about doing the right thing for people who are in crisis."