September 25, 2016

Funding for Sugar House Art/Transport Project Nearly in Place

For the last few years, the odds of building a bicycle/pedestrian crossing under 1300 East have been getting longer. The project to connect Sugar House Park and the Sugar House Business District has suffered setbacks that left it short of cash and stripped of some valuable features.

Last fall, Salt Lake County voters approved a Parks and Trails bond that provided $9 million for the construction of Parley’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail. Salt Lake County and the Utah Department of Transportation have prioritized that funding for four sections of the trail. Two sections are in South Salt Lake and two are east of 1300 East in Salt Lake City.

Artist rendering of tunnel under 1300 East and approx 1900 South, The project is currently $1 million short of the proposed budget for funding.

Artist rendering of tunnel under 1300 East and approx 1900 South, The project is currently $1 million short of the proposed budget for funding.

The piece that locks them together, the keystone of Parley’s Trail, is called the Draw at Sugar House. The Draw is a passageway under 1300 East that completes the connection between Bonneville Shoreline Trail and the Jordan River Parkway.

“Draw” can mean a gully or a deep ditch cut by running water, and in addition to being a crucial transportation feature, the Draw at Sugar House will serve as a dam for the floodwater retention pond in Sugar House Park. It could also be a monumental piece of environmental art.

On the west side of 1300 East is Hidden Hollow, a nature preserve that is used as an outdoor classroom by area schoolchildren. In 2000, Salt Lake City granted an easement on the Hollow to Utah Open Lands Conservation Association, guaranteeing that the creek-side oasis would be preserved forever as a remnant of Salt Lake’s natural and pioneer history.

The Draw at Sugar House was designed to be a multi-functional sculptural feature that told the story of the pioneer migration into the Salt Lake Valley. The public artwork, designed by world-renowned environmental artist, Patricia Johanson, included a ‘Sego Lily’ plaza, a slot canyon with a representation of the famous Witches rock formation (hoodoos) from Echo Canyon, and a beautifully landscaped pedestrian walkway.

Legal negotiations with private property owners, engineering difficulties and rising costs eroded existing funding from a federal Transportation Appropriation. The money that remained for the Draw at Sugar House was only sufficient to build the tunnel, the 13th East bridges, a berm for the dam, and to construct a retaining wall on the south side of the walkway.

None of the funding from the 2005 Transportation Bill will be used for aesthetic elements. It will cost an estimated $1.5 million to complete the Canyon Wall, the hoodoos and the Sego Lily features. A fundraising effort in 2011 raised $380,000 for the artwork. At present, the Draw needs some major players to ante up and contribute the balance.

State Farm Insurance Co. has a program, Neighborhood Assist, which offers $25,000 grants to forty deserving causes around the U.S. and Canada. Neighborhood Assist is a crowd-sourced philanthropic initiative that lets the public decide who will win the grants, exclusively through Facebook. This year, the Draw at Sugar House was nominated to compete for one of those grants. The State Farm Youth Advisory Board, a group of college and high school students from across the nation, will announce the top 200 finalists on April 4.

If it makes the cut, the Draw will be listed on the Facebook application to be voted on by members of our community. Voting will last from April 4 – 22 and each Facebook user gets 10 votes every day. Winners will be announced on April 29.

If you want to help the Draw be a winner, please go to www.parleystrail.org to deal yourself in and vote for the Draw! If it wins, maybe some big shark will match that bet, and even raise it!