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Donations add up to a visitors center for the Great Salt Lake Marina

Published January 18, 2013 10:58 am

State parks • Serendipity helped move project forward.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Jeremy Shaw invited his boss to visit the Great Salt Lake State Marina for a meeting in July to discuss why the state park needed a building to serve as a visitors center.

Soon after Shaw, who serves as manager of the marina and Antelope Island State Park, explained that tour buses traveling on Interstate 80 frequently stop for some quick pictures and a potty break a serendipitous event happened.

"We were standing there in the parking lot and a bus pulled in. The people got off the bus and the tour guide walked right up to us and asked 'When are you going to get a gift shop?' " Shaw said. "He looked at me as she walked away and asked if I had set that up. It did kind of look like I scripted it, but it sure helped make my point."

There are no official numbers on how may buses make the stop at Great Salt Lake State Marina annually, but Shaw feels there are easily enough to warrant a building to provide information about the Great Salt Lake and the marina — and eventually, a gift shop.

After approval from Jeff Rasmussen, his supervisor and now deputy director of Utah State Parks, Shaw explored options for the building.

He didn't have to go far to find something at a great price. Shaw had previously spotted an empty building — really a triple-wide trailer configuration — on 7200 West just off of Interstate 80, about 11 miles east of the marina.

A little research showed the building was no longer in use by the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau as a welcome center. Shaw discovered the building was now owned by a private entity, which owned the land on which it sat. He inquired about the facility and was pleased when officials with Suburban Land Reserve told Shaw they would donate it to Utah State Parks.

Fred Hayes, director of Utah State Parks and Recreation, told the state parks board earlier this year that Shaw was working to find funds to get the three sections, equaling 36 feet wide and 48 feet long when put together, moved to the marina.

Kennecott Utah Copper was asked if it would like to be part of the new visitors center being moved to their neighborhood and donated $32,000 through a grant to get it moved and prepared for use.

Kennecott operations are visible from the marina and a large smokestack on the north end of the Oquirrh Mountains across I-80 is often called the Great Salt Lake lighthouse by sailors. Some space in the visitors center will be dedicated to Kennecott for display.

Once it's moved, the building will sit at the end of the parking area closest to the lake shore.

"This will give visitors something to see with historical and geological information about the lake so people have a sense of what they are seeing when they stop," Shaw said.

The visitors center will be staffed by Great Salt Lake State Marina personnel and Shaw hopes to have it running by early summer. The gift portion of the shop may take a little longer to complete.

brettp@sltrib.com