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FOX 13 News 360: New $20 million visitor center proposed for the Great Salt Lake

Posted at 1:16 PM, Feb 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-21 15:34:12-05

MAGNA, Utah — A new proposal seeking $20 million would build a brand new, state of the art visitors center on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

State Rep. Merrill Nelson (R-Grantsville) says the center, which would be located at the current Great Salt Lake State Park, would be educational for visitors, most of whom don't know a park even exists.

"If we had an attraction there that would catch the eye of visitors and put up some signs to show it's there, I think we could make this a great attraction for both residents and tourists," said Nelson.

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Nelson said his frequent commutes from Grantsville to Salt Lake City take him right past what he believes is currently a forgettable facility.

According to the state park's website, some 70,000 people have already come to the Great Salt Lake State Park this year; an increase over previous years.

The current visitors center is a trailer which many people said could use an upgrade.

"Right now we just have a trailer out there, but if we had a nice building that would show a video of the history of the lake and the value of the lake, a place we could teach school kids on field trips, or tourists that come by," Rep. Nelson explained. He said it the proposed center would help pay for itself with increased tourism, facility rentals and retail sales.

The center would include observation decks where people could see the lake and also give visitors a chance to experience one of Utah's most treasured locations. Paddle boats would be available for rental, and walkways would enable people to get out on the lake and actually touch it.

Nelson said the $20 million price tag is negotiable, but "that is the price for something great." The representative believes the money could come from federal infrastructure funds.

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However, public opinion is mixed as FOX 13 News caught up with people who were both in favor of some sort of visitors center, while others said it would be a distraction from the natural beauty of the lake and others added it would be a waste of money.

FOX 13 News requested comment about the center from the Utah Taxpayers Association, a watchdog group for public spending, but the organization said its withholding comment until they learn more about the proposal.

A final decision from the Utah Legislature could be up to six weeks away.