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South Jordan Journal

SWQ Visioning Study: asking for connectivity, demanding the payment for infrastructure

Oct 22, 2019 01:13PM ● By Jennifer J Johnson

Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson speaks next to representatives from the southwest quadrant cities during the Vision and Growth Strategy Kickoff meeting at Intermountain Riverton Hospital. (Justin Adams/City Journals)

By Jennifer J. Johnson | [email protected] 

On a Monday in mid-August, some of the most prominent players in the Southwest Quadrant met to launch a vigorous, $250,000 “Shared Vision and Growth Strategy.”

While the message was nowhere on the press materials, one of the key goals of the project was summed by South Jordan Dawn Ramsey: “Looking to strengthen our ‘ask’ to the legislature to complete the Mountain View Corridor.” This project and the need to provide East/West connectivity for far-flung SWQ communities has been a repeat-theme with the Southwest Quadrant Mayors Council and with members of all communities represented. Also oft-repeated is the need to ensure developers “pay their fair share for their projects, if [they exact a] higher stress on infrastructure,” as underscored by Herriman Mayor Pro Tempore Jared Henderson

The visioning study is slated to address land use, economic development and transportation infrastructure changes across participating communities and collectively target “a high-quality of life,” with a 2050 outlook, the precise timeframe by which the state is set to double its population. Municipal leaders representing six municipalities and areas of unincorporated Salt Lake County hope the study will strategically inform development in the micro-region.

The room was packed with VIPS in municipal, micro-regional and state government, as well as with land-development, business, utilities and print media.

That is the porch and central living area; SWQ is the safe and overflow guest rooms

The next day, a local newspaper ran an article positing that Salt Lake City is both the front porch and the seemingly contradictory central living area of the state.

With that analogy in the realm, numerous municipal, business, utility and mainly resident stakeholders are going to be dedicating the next 12 to 18 months to the task of defining what the Southwest Quadrant means—to Utah and to the surrounding communities that will be most affected by the development on a day-to-day basis.

With all of the discussion about SWQ comprising the county’s last undeveloped land and the micro-region’s fulfilling on state economic-development efforts to continue to house not just “natural increase” in population through family growth those who have been recruited to Utah—perhaps this precious Southwest Quadrant land is akin to both a “house safe” and burgeoning “guest rooms” to the urban center’s front porch and living area—a safe whose combination is needing to be discovered, to unlock the best and highest use of precious land and guest rooms seemingly beyond infrastructure capacity.

Southwest Mayors, Salt Lake County Mayor reiterate ‘near infrastructure crisis’ reasoning

In late-July, the South Jordan Journal and South Valley Journal broke the story that more than 40 staff and elected leadership from the Southwest Mayors Council had cast respective votes and selected Logan Simpson among nine competitors as its urban-planning partner to execute its SWQ visioning study.

At a press conference chiefly organized by, introduced by, and held within Riverton City, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs, Bluffdale Mayor Derk Timothy, Copperton Metro Township Mayor Sean Clayton, Henderson,  Ramsey and West Jordan City Mayor Jim Riding joined with Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson in formally announcing the selection of Logan Simpson and reiterated the importance of planned growth in the micro-region.

Staggs underscored the “flurry” of housing activity in the area since early 2000.

Staggs reiterated how SWQ has been consumed with 70% of all of the population growth in the area. A full half of this number he attributed to moving into the county from out of state as part of the “state’s and county’s successful recruiting efforts” to relocate business and qualified talent to Utah.

“A near infrastructure crisis” is the impact of such unchecked growth, he said, citing challenges for future development amid with fragile water, stormwater, sewer and other infrastructure components.

“Growth is good, as long as it is done responsibly,” Clayton said.

Representing both the unincorporated land in Salt Lake County that comprises SWQ as well as the county’s role in co-funding the quarter-million-dollar visioning study, Wilson indicated that the study “will help the region and the county better address growth.”

“All of our answers will not be found in this study, but the collaboration—that, in itself will yield solutions,” she said.

Synergies and the similarities coloring present and future, whereas competition comprised the past

West Jordan’s Riding and Herriman’s Henderson also highlighted the importance of and the uniqueness of the mayoral collaboration.

“I don’t know when six mayors have gotten together to form a coalition,” Riding said. “We have a lot of differences—communities are that way—but, three things—transportation, infrastructure and land use—they apply to all of us.”

“Traditionally, we’re competing against each other,” Henderson said. “Up until 10 to 15 years ago, cities could do that, but mistakes have been made. What I’ve seen over the last 12 months, we have so much more in common.”

Bluffdale’s Timothy pointed out that, by working together as a micro-region, versus a bunch of competitive cities, SWQ will “justify future funding” and “hopefully, have better success.” He summed: “Collaborative planning enables us more future success.”

Leadership from municipalities and the county have repeatedly emphasized that participation from all relevant organizations, landowners and residents will be assured through the work Logan Simpson will guide.

From there, the mayors turned the time over to Logan Simpson itself.

Logan Simpson is a nearly 30-year-old regional firm with more than $15 million in annual revenues. With offices in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon and Utah (downtown Salt Lake City), the firm lists “community planning” as its third core service, after environmental services and cultural resources. The firm also offers landscape architecture. 

In servicing the mixed-constituency of municipal and county leadership, Logan Simpson has so far created a new logo depicting SWQ as six interconnected municipalities (not showing unincorporated Salt Lake County land area); launched a new website; has invited first-round input for the project from those attending the initial press conference; and has eschewed the “Southwest Quadrant” branding, in lieu of simply “Southwest Salt Lake County.”