What’s new at SLC’s Peace Gardens? The answer disappoints some.

This west-side attraction remains a city jewel and an ornate tribute to world peace, but some want to expand it and all want to polish it up.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) International Peace Gardens at Jordan Park on Friday, June 3, 2022. The gardens, opened in 1952, won't be expanding anytime soon to include additional countries.

The International Peace Gardens, Salt Lake City’s salute to the global community, have been a fixture of beauty for 70 years.

Lush flowers, striking art, a towering replica of the Matterhorn.

But anyone expecting a new world order anytime soon at the west-side attraction will just have to wait, according to Lee Bollwinkel, the city’s parks division director.

“The Peace Gardens are full,” Bollwinkel said. “There is no more room.”

Representatives for countries like Argentina and Azerbaijan want to be included in the monument to world peace along the Jordan River, but a lack of space means they won’t be flying their flags there in the near future.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) International Peace Gardens at Jordan Park on Friday, June 3, 2022.

The gardens have not welcomed a new nation in more than 20 years. The last country to receive a place there was Tonga, dedicated in 2000, according to Peace Gardens International Academy, a nonprofit advocacy group.

“How do you go in there and subdivide and make more room for countries,” Bollwinkel said, “when there’s already countries established from way back in the day?”

There doesn’t appear to be much appetite at City Hall to pay for a review of the gardens, at least not this year. The request didn’t get the nod for funding from a review board or the mayor’s office for this year’s capital improvement budget.

City Council members could decide to fund the roughly $250,000 project by the Sept. 1 deadline for finalizing which capital projects they’ll bankroll, but that money would need to come out of another project.

Even if the council did support the proposal, expansion wouldn’t be just around the bend. Bollwinkel said the division would need to submit an additional request for funding to carry out the work after the review is completed and the plan is developed. He estimates it would take at least four or five years for his team to see any construction money.

Turner Bitton, chair of the Glendale Community Council, said his board is in the process of creating a group called Friends of Glendale Parks. The organization will hold its first meeting in August and focus on raising money and volunteering time to benefit parks in the neighborhood.

He said the plan is for the new group to also submit a capital improvement request to the city to pay for an evaluation of the gardens and potentially fund work like fixing water features that have fallen into disrepair.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) International Peace Gardens at Jordan Park on Friday, June 3, 2022.

The signs of wear and tear are apparent on a stroll through the gardens. There’s stagnant, gunky water in the pond at the base of the Matterhorn — representing Switzerland — and exposed screw heads from rotted-out wood on a weathered bridge in the Japanese garden.

Parks officials have removed some artwork for safekeeping and repair after thieves tried to steal them.

Bitton said he wants to see security upgrades at the park to protect it from vandalism but is leaving it up to the city to decide how best to approach that.

If it’s true that the gardens are at capacity, Bitton said, he wants to explore ways to expand them, possibly into neighboring Jordan Park.

The Peace Gardens, he said, reflect the diversity and inclusion of Glendale.

“We have folks from all over the world who call our little neighborhood home,” he said, “and the Peace Gardens is just a really remarkable way of celebrating that cultural history.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) International Peace Gardens at Jordan Park on Friday, June 3, 2022.

First-year council member Alejandro Puy, a native of Argentina who wants to see the South American country represented, said he also would like to see the area expanded.

For now, though, he’s focused on upkeep of what is already there.

This month, he secured a commitment from Home Depot to help with some of the deferred maintenance at the gardens, which rest in his west-side district. He also wants to leverage his council position to boost security at the park.

“It really is a gem of Salt Lake City,” he said, “and I really encourage anybody in Salt Lake that doesn’t know that this exists to go and visit.”