Salt Lake City’s monument to world peace soon will get the touch-up it so desperately needs.
City Council members voted unanimously this month to approve nearly $40 million in capital improvements, including $325,000 for the west side’s International Peace Gardens, an investment the area’s council representative said will get the botanical gem next to Jordan Park moving in the right direction.
“It is a big deal, I’m happy,” said District 2 council member Alejandro Puy. “Obviously this is not the end of it. It’s going to need more than that, but it feels good to be moving the needle.”
Last year, a funding request for the gardens did not get the final nod from the city.
This year’s investment, however, will help restore artwork that has been stolen or removed, replace perennial plants and landscaping, and start the process of exploring how to further improve the park and potentially expand it.
Puy said the park, which pays tribute to dozens of nations, will need much more money than the city is throwing at it with the capital improvement program, but he hopes the investment will give officials a better understanding of what they’ll need to seek when next year’s funding discussions kick off.
The first-term council member said he welcomes any source of funding — public or private — to give the gardens a new sheen.
Last year, Puy led the charge to build a relationship with Home Depot and secured donated materials and volunteer hours from the company to improve the park. Those contributions led to the repair of the dilapidated Japanese garden ahead of a visit this summer by a delegation from Matsumoto, one of Salt Lake City’s sister cities.
The last time the Peace Gardens welcomed a new installation was in 2000, when a garden for Tonga was dedicated.
The capital improvement program covers the entire city and infuses money into public property for projects that have a useful life of five or more years and cost at least $50,000.
About $10.5 million will be steered to road safety and transportation, more than $10.6 million will go toward maintenance of trails, parks and public spaces, about $300,000 will pay for new public art, and more than $1 million will help expand a downtown fire station.
The projects are as new as a Poplar Grove Park basketball court and as large as beautifying a stretch of North Temple or studying drainage problems at Library Square downtown.
Other projects that received funding include:
• Creation of a Cottonwood Park trailhead in the west side’s District 1.
• A yet-to-be-determined art project in the west side’s District 2.
• Improvements to Ensign Peak Nature Park in District 3, which largely covers east-side neighborhoods.
• Replacing one of the city’s oldest playgrounds in District 4′s Richmond Park.
• Sprucing up the Ballpark neighborhood’s Jefferson Park in District 5.
• Extending the 9 Line Trail to the University of Utah in District 6.
• Engineering design work on a neighborhood byway from District 7′s Sugar House to the U.
Additional details may be found on the city’s website.
Council Chair Darin Mano said council members were able to fully fund the mayor’s recommended capital improvement budget this year without making any cuts, and even threw in another $1.2 million to cover additional projects.
The budget, he said, largely focuses on traffic-calming measures and underscores the city’s commitment to improving safety. More than half the extra $1.2 million went to some form of traffic calming, which can include crosswalks, speed bumps, narrower streets and lower speed limits.
“We have a long way to go, and we’re not there yet,” Mano said, “but this year was another big step forward in making our streets safer for pedestrians, cyclists and people of impaired mobility, and anyone else who uses our roads, not just vehicles.”
Mayor Erin Mendenhall said residents should be happy to see that the council not only adopted her recommended budget but also committed to additional investments.
The projects, she said, will make streets safer and upgrade green spaces for those who live in and visit Utah’s capital.
“These,” she said, “are great investments for our neighborhoods.”