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Herriman Journal

2018 a formative year for Herriman City

Jan 09, 2019 01:36PM ● By Travis Barton

Herriman Police Department’s leadership, seen here in front of city hall, worked tirelessly to have the police force prepared in September. (Photo courtesy Herriman City)

By Travis Barton | [email protected] 

While Herriman marks major milestones each year as it grows, 2018 also marked its importance within the Salt Lake Valley. From valuable land to law enforcement, eyes continually turned southwest to this corner of the valley. In no particular order, here are a few of the biggest stories from the year. 

From UPD to HPD

“It was kind of a we-did-it moment. (They) told us we couldn’t, and we did.” 

Those were the words of Troy Carr as he described the first moments of Herriman’s new police department to the city council during a meeting in October. Carr is the first police chief of the Herriman Police Department. 

It was both a long time coming and sneaked up, as the city’s new police force had its 35 police officers and five civilian officers sworn into office on Sept. 27. 

For months, Herriman officials contemplated its status within UPD. Deciding whether to stay or leave came to a head in May as the city council voted unanimously to withdraw from UPD to form its own department. 

By June, it had hired its leadership team — police chief (Carr), deputy chief, operations commander and investigations commander — and set Sept. 29 as departure date, a goal they achieved. 

The separation was described as a “divorce” by Councilwoman Nicole Martin in June. The break up began frosty but ended amicably. 

Residents and UPD leaders told the city council it was a mistake to separate from UPD. Residents worried the city’s budget would double. With a police officer shortage, they warned the process wouldn’t work. But by July, Carr reported having more than 100 people apply to be an officer. City projections also showed it would save money. It would also increase its officer presence and give them more control. 

In the department’s first 24 hours, there were domestic violence calls, a juvenile warrant arrest and a triple fatal vehicle accident, according to Carr. All were covered due to HPD’s number of officers on duty and didn’t require outside resources, Carr said. 

During the Oct. 10 city council meeting, Mayor David Watts said the efforts by all involved to make this happen were “incredible.” 

At the swearing-in ceremony, Councilman Jared Henderson described it as a “Herculean task.” 

“We are beyond proud of what has been achieved,” Watts said. 

Months after its decision to leave UPD, Riverton has followed suit, establishing plans to separate from the regional policing agency and form its own police department as well.

January lockdown

But before the police switched hands, UPD and other agencies helped when neighborhoods went on lockdown on Jan. 20. Justin Gary Llewelyn got into a shootout with a Unified Police officer, shot a homeowner in the chest and then stole the man’s vehicle. He was later caught and apprehended. 

While the moment proved terrifying for many in the area, residents Nicki Pinarelli Bullard and Angela Mazza took the opportunity to thank law enforcement on Jan. 30 with a community luncheon. 

“It was just to say thank you for all officers did,” Bullard said at the time. “They protected us so much the week that Llewelyn was on the run. They do so much for us and don’t get thanked enough. It was such an amazing feeling knowing he was out there as I dropped my kids off at school. Police presence was incredible and made me feel OK about me not being with them. We would love to make this a yearly thing.”

Olympia Hills

Land was constantly under a microscope during 2018 in Herriman, none more so than the proposed Olympia Hills development during the summer. 

The proposed high-density housing development — initially approved by the Salt Lake County Council before being vetoed by County Mayor Ben McAdams — would have seen 931 acres of unincorporated county land from 6300 West to 8500 West and 12400 South to13100 South (land that is part of Salt Lake County but not part of any city) rezoned to allow living space for some 33,000 people.

The initial approval started a movement. Thousands signed petitions aiming to stop the development. The mayors of Herriman, Riverton, West Jordan and Copperton released a joint statement urging the council to deny the rezone.

Hundreds of Salt Lake Valley residents attended a town hall meeting, held on June 14 at Herriman High School, to air their grievances and urge McAdams to veto the rezone. Among the many concerns discussed were insufficient roadways (particularly east–west freeways), increased taxes, stretching police and fire services thin, and the lack of schools to support such growth.

“We’re acting like the southwest of Salt Lake Valley is responsible for sustaining the growth of the entire state,” said Herriman resident Leigh Gibson during the town hall. “The land in the southwest Salt Lake Valley is not the only open land left in the valley, and we need to stop acting like it is.”

Though the proposal was vetoed, it did not die. Discussions continue about possibly annexing the land into Herriman. City officials commissioned a study to assess numerous land development factors — including economic and environmental sustainability, topography, utilities, transportation, parks and schools — to determine the site’s “carrying capacity,” or development density.

On Dec. 13, the Olympia Hills developer provided information about its revised plan and gathered public input. Follow the South Valley Journal in 2019 for more information. 

Herriman Community Center

Herriman’s current city hall only opened in 2017. The city council held previous meetings at the Herriman Community Center, located at 13011 South Pioneer Street. 

The center was declared surplus in May after a unanimous city council vote and city staff was directed to find the “best economic return to the city,” which could include being sold. 

At the time, the decision was met with frustration by members of the community, who urged the council to keep the building as a community space. While council members appreciated the sentiment and history of the building, they couldn’t justify the price tag to keep the building. 

“It would be, in my opinion, fiscally irresponsible of us to just hang onto (the building),” Henderson said at the time. 

The building was most recently being used by Salt Lake Community College for classes.** 

RSL Academy

Not all land use decisions brought concern. 

February saw the grand opening of the Zions Bank Real Academy (14787 South Academy Parkway off Mountain View Corridor). The 42-acre behemoth is a $78 million campus. It features an indoor training facility recognized as the largest free-standing steel structure in North America, a STEM-based charter school, boarding facilities for some students and players, and a 5,000-seat stadium where the Real Monarchs played this season. SLCC women’s and men’s soccer teams played their home games there this year as well as the Utah Warriors rugby team. 

“It’s a beacon of excellence for what the human spirit can achieve,” said Gordon Haight of the complex at the grand opening on Feb. 28. Haight is Herriman’s assistant city manager and economic development director. 

Its benefits to Herriman are innumerable, said Haight in March. He highlighted the facility as a destination for people from around the world; as a site the city can have as a place for an active lifestyle; to spur economic growth with hotels, restaurants and office park nearby; and to serve as an emergency shelter in the case of an earthquake or other natural disasters. 

People travel to cities to witness infrastructural marvels—how exciting it is to have that in Herriman, Haight said. 

Mayor’s finances

Watts’ use of a city credit card during two trips to Washington, D.C., recently came under scrutiny. 

City Finance Director Alan Rae laid out the details in question, which included using a city credit card for non-city business, exceeding the recommended limit for travel expenses and failing to provide receipts for expenses.

During the two trips, Watts’ city credit card ran 21 transactions. Only two receipts were provided by the mayor, according to Martin.

This issue was initially raised during a council meeting on July 11. At that time, the mayor reportedly told council members he had only just been informed of the problems half an hour earlier. However, Rae said that he had informed the mayor of the issue weeks earlier, on June 26. 

During the July meeting, Watts promised to fully pay the city back for what he had spent. 

“It’s public money. We should be held to a higher standard,” he said at the time.

However, over four months later, the mayor had made no effort to repay the city, said Rae. 

The city council decided city credit cards would no longer be given to elected officials. When traveling, officials will now pay for expenses with their personal cards, then submit receipts for approved purchases to the city for reimbursement. (Most of the Herriman city councilors said they already follow this method voluntarily.)

Other bits of info

  • The Rosecrest Disc Golf Course was shut down on Labor Day weekend. The 18-hole course, set up along what was initially intended as trails for people to use, branches through various neighborhoods. Resulting damage to adjacent resident properties, such as broken fences from golfers climbing or forcibly adjusting them to retrieve their discs, caused the city council — with recommendations from city staff — to permanently close the location. 
  • Staff was directed, in a unanimous council vote, to purchase just over 55 acres of property located along 12120 South 5100 West. The plan was to rezone the property to develop more commercial property. It was originally intended for higher-density residential development. 

“This is our opportunity to preserve commercial acreage along Mountain View Corridor,” Henderson said during a special council meeting on Nov. 9. 

This was “an active attempt to follow the desires of our community,” Watts said.

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