Alejandro Puy and Victoria Petro: Dedication and engagement are delivering long overdue results on Salt Lake City’s west side

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People tour the Cornell Wetland Area and learn about the Rose Park Jordan River Watershed Project on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.

Since our tenure on the council began almost two years ago, we’ve pushed fervently — often decried as overly passionate — for restorative investment in Salt Lake City’s west side. It’s true: All areas of the city need — and deserve — maintenance and attention. The very real consequences of redlining, imbalanced development and deprioritization have left our west side in a position requiring ongoing investment and strategic vision.

Our communities have taken on the job of continuous advocacy while balancing the likelihood of working more jobs than other city residents and being more likely to live in multigenerational households. We’ve listened and acted as the west-side representatives.

We’re witnessing significant progress in bridging the infamous east-west divide and a more equitable quality of life across the city. We saw two council meetings held on the west side in the last year. West-siders showed up in droves. The city is making substantial investments that will redefine what it means to be a west-sider.

The transformation of 600 North and 700 North (from 800 West to Redwood Road), which serves as a vital connection between neighborhoods like Westpointe, Fairpark, Rose Park and the rest of the city, will be pivotal. This investment of over $10 million will repair failing roadways and improve accessibility and safety, add public transit amenities and a linear park. Prioritizing shared mobility makes streets usable for travelers of all types, ages and abilities. This construction is expected to begin in early 2025.

Enhancements to the Jordan River Trail and the completion of the Folsom Trail aim to foster better connectivity, providing Salt Lakers with more convenient ways to get around.

While a well-connected city is fantastic, it’s nonnegotiable to have the option of running your errands close to home. The Redevelopment Agency (RDA) has actively acquired and incentivized property on the west side to revitalize the area with diverse retail, housing and services. Recent RDA investments include property along the Folsom Trail, the West End Development (740 W. 900 South), a mixed-use development (1500 W. North Temple), and a commissary kitchen (877 W. 400 South). By fostering a thriving business community that emphasizes the uniqueness of our west-side entrepreneurial strength, the city is helping generate economic growth and opportunity in our neighborhoods.

Quality-of-life improvements are coming, too. Improved access to green space and recreational areas can have significant physical and mental health benefits and create an increased sense of neighborhood pride. Poplar Grove Park will see completed basketball courts. At the former Raging Waters property, the new Glendale Regional Park is set to become a beloved community hub.

Several other green space improvements were significantly influenced by west-side advocates who tirelessly speak up. Excited for the new lighting at Riverside Park’s Northeast Baseball Field? Thank the neighbors behind Rose Park Baseball. Stoked for the new soccer field at 900 South River Park? High-five Salt Lakers who play in adult social leagues like SL Adult Sports, Beehive Sports and Stonewall Sports. If you love the new pickleball courts coming to Poplar Grove Park this summer, make sure you give the Die Hard Pickleballerz a shoutout.

The implementation of quiet zones at three west-side train crossings closest to residences is a major quality-of-life improvement. Blaring horns by passing trains will cease due to safety improvements. An informational system with train crossing signage will help us plan our routes. It’ll provide information about when and how long crossings will be closed by trains — a benefit our community has never known.

We’re also preserving our west-side history. Landmarks like the Fisher Mansion (200 South and the Jordan River) and Warm Springs (900 North and 300 West) are unique to our community and deserve ongoing public investment. Preserving historic public property protects the character of our neighborhoods by honoring our roots.

None of this would be possible without the support of our council colleagues, Mayor Erin Mendenhall, city leadership and partners. Your dedication is instrumental in driving positive change.

However, our work is far from done. Ensuring our green spaces are safe and inviting for all members of the community, instead of contentious locations due to unaddressed homelessness will be a tremendous task. The Salt Lake City Council funded a one-time grant to mitigate the negative impacts of unsanctioned camps. Safe and secured sanctioned camps that are successful in other cities have proved this form of temporary housing can address the need for safe shelter while keeping the chaos from unregulated camping out of our communities.

Beyond issues around homelessness, thwarting further displacement will require generational work. Embracing our Environmental Protection Agency status as an environmental justice focus area to improve local conditions like air quality is another issue we’ll be tackling. As with most aspects of our lives on the west side, none of these things will be easy, but each will be worth the effort.

Let’s continue to stand together, united in our commitment to build bridges and create a truly equitable city for all residents. Thank you all for the beauty and vibrancy you create on the west side. Let’s meet the west side’s full potential and ensure its collective strength thrives for generations to come.

Alejandro “Ale” Puy

Alejandro “Ale” Puy has served Salt Lake City’s District 2 on the City Council since January 2022 and is currently chair of the city’s Redevelopment Agency (RDA). District 2 is comprised of Glendale, Poplar Grove, part of Fairpark, and a portion of Downtown, but Puy aims to shine a light on the entire west side. A proud immigrant from Argentina, Puy runs a political consulting firm and obtained a bachelor’s in political science.

Victoria Petro

Victoria Petro became the District 1 representative on the Salt Lake City Council in November 2021 and is currently serving as council vice chair. District 1 includes Rose Park, Westpointe, Jordan Meadows and Fairpark. A proud west-sider, Petro has raised her four children in the area and is an active voice for her diverse and unique community. Petro works as an action-focused diversity consultant and earned both a bachelor’s degree in music therapy and a master’s degree in nonprofit management.