Salt Lake City

Mayor Mendenhall announces historic $100 million investment in Ballpark neighborhood, bold goals for water conservation during fourth State of the City address

January 24, 2023

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Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall touted the City’s energetic governance and its readiness to capitalize on major opportunities already coming the capital city’s way in her fourth State of the City address Tuesday. By nurturing partnerships at all levels of government and within the community, the City is positioned and prepared for the next five years and beyond, Mayor Mendenhall said. 

The event included exciting announcements about conservation efforts for Great Salt Lake, historic investment in the Ballpark neighborhood, and details of a new 20+ year Airport Use Agreement with Delta airlines at Salt Lake City International Airport. The Mayor’s remarks conveyed pride in the City’s accomplishments to date and a bold optimism about all the future holds. Held at Woodbine Food Hall in the Granary District, it was the first in-person State of the City address in three years.

“I’ve said it before and it’s worth stating again, the character of this city isn’t created through the successes and challenges we face together — it’s revealed,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “That character is powerful, creative, tenacious, and caring. There’s no stopping us. We are bold. We are courageous. We are Salt Lakers, and we are ready. The State of our City is ready.”

On the heels of last week’s news about the departure of the Salt Lake Bees, Mayor Mendenhall announced a historic $100 million public-private investment in the Ballpark neighborhood to be led by the Larry H. and Gail Miller Family Foundation, the City, Zions Bank, and Intermountain Healthcare as founding partners. 

“There has never been an investment like this in our city before,” she said. “This transformative commitment of human-centered programs and opportunity will bring tremendous leverage to the concepts being generated right now in the City’s Ballpark Next competition. Investments could include programs like affordable early childhood education, workforce training, building economic stability, recreation and so much more.”

Mayor Mendenhall said Salt Lake City has managed to do things other capital cities could only dream of on the heels of the global pandemic, including a downtown that has recovered better than any other downtown in the country and a citywide crime reduction of more than 12 percent since a nationwide peak in crime during the pandemic.

With renewed focus on the future of Great Salt Lake, the Mayor praised City water users for saving 3 billion gallons last year and announced key efforts the City will undertake to ensure the resource’s longevity, including: 

  • a top-to-bottom study reviewing of the city government’s water usage in every facility, park, and cemetery, giving a detailed assessment of every irrigation system, down to every water fountain.
  • a recommendation to the City Council that the City implement a temporary drought surcharge on the biggest water consumers to encourage reductions in outdoor watering.
  • a request to the City Council to formally pledge that high-quality treated water go to the Great Salt Lake and authorize the Public Utilities Department to file the necessary water right documentation amounting to an annual contribution of nearly 13 billion gallons from the City.

“History will judge us for the choices we make and don’t make right now. I will not sit back and watch the Great Salt Lake turn to toxic dust. We will not put our feet up and say ‘we’ve done enough.’” she said. “The disappearance of the Great Salt Lake is not something that is happening to us, it’s something that is happening largely because of us, because of climate change. Utahns are not victims or passive observers — we must take responsibility for our choices and take bold action now.”

Other key takeaways from the Mayor’s remarks include:

  • Air quality
    • In the past three years the City has planted 3,000 westside trees; the public resoundingly approved the $85 million Parks, Trails and Open Space bond to dramatically expand and improve public space access; and the City sponsored a lawn mower exchange that swapped out 539 gas lawn mowers for electric models.
  • Safe Streets/Vision Zero
    • Salt Lake City will adopt a Vision Strategy and budget to begin installing more left turn protections, which account for 19 percent of auto-versus-pedestrian crashes. The City will also reduce the number of legal right-turns at city intersections, which account for 11 percent of auto-versus-pedestrian crashes. 
  • Housing
    • With the support of the City Council, the City will invest up to $10 million in wealth-building homes for 1,500 families in our city. Using President Biden’s federal Rescue Plan funds, the City will build intergenerational stability and combat homelessness by creating stable, affordable, wealth-generating housing for families in Salt Lake City.
  • Homelessness
    • Salt Lake City has forged relationships in the past few years to create a focused partnership with the State, County, sister cities, service providers, and advocates.
    • Mayor Mendenhall provided an update on the $6 million in City funding that will contribute to the addition of 400 new, permanent supportive housing units, set to open this spring.

“The pandemic, the earthquakes, the windstorm — the crises we’ve faced together the last three years didn’t make us resilient, they revealed our resilience and strength,” Mayor Mendenhall said. “What an undeniably exciting time of possibility and potential for our city. We’re building a Salt Lake City whose brand and identity are driven by people who are proud of our city and who are excited by its future, not afraid of it.”

Watch the full speech on YouTube.

Read the speech transcript.

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