Babs DeLay

Babs DeLay

2014

I always wondered when we hosted the 2002 Olympics why Mayor Rocky Anderson and Governor Mike Leavitt didn't find the money and the priority to cleanup and beautify the 'Gateway to the Capitol City' from the airport to North Temple. At the time it was a street with dive motels, fast food and many unkempt properties that basically just made this thoroughfare into Salt Lake City look just plain crappy to our worldwide visitors. Wingpointe Golf course had been open at the airport since 1990 but was of no use for competitions in the sub-zero weather inversion we had during the games. The airport had been spiffed up and TSA secured, as the 9/11 attacks had happened in the U.S. only four months before the Olympic torch was lit in Utah. We didn't have much snow then and I felt like we were greeting the world wearing flood pants, rope belts and sporting a few missing teeth and it was as if we had bathed but forgot to wash our feet.

Much has happened since then to our fair city, and actually to the entire tri-city area of Ogden, Salt Lake and Provo. TRAX which had opened for the games has expanded to and from the airport and along the valley floors. Artsy little metro stations dot the tracks at major TRAX intersections, a giant 18-field soccer complex voted in by Salt Laker's in 2003 on 1900 West and 2200 North will be finished next year and now the City and local groups are pondering what to do to finally make North Temple look better and act better. Ponder this: could North Temple ever be a destination point for you other than the occasional stop at the original Red Iguana? This is a necessary discussion because the airport itself is now about to methodically go under the bulldozers between now and 2022. In just 8 years the two terminals will become one, the number of gates will be reduced all (but all will be replaced with 'Jetways' (covered walks) to and from planes), with massive shopping, dining and meeting spaces added on both sides of security. There are 20 million passengers currently coming into our 50 year old airport which was designed to handle only 10 million visitors.

Sadly, Wingpointe is not a money maker. The $5 rent the Feds were once charging us for the land has been increased and the lease to Salt Lake City is up in 2017. If I were to look in my crystal ball I'd say that golf at Wingpointe will not be around in a few years and it will become more of a green space and animal habitat than underused links. On the happy side, when you build light rail in cities around the world development usually follows. Planners from Salt Lake City know this and have fast-tracked ideas and zoning proposals to help developers bring in more mixed land uses between the airport and downtown. Non-profit NeighborWorks is interested in getting affordable housing along the North Temple corridor and interviewing community members about their ideas for the area. The transitory daily rentals of hotels does not for a neighborhood make and yet many people consider the area along both sides of North Temple a swell place to call home. The streets around the decrepit State Fairgrounds in the Fairpark neighborhood are wide and the homes affordable. The Euclid neighborhood is a mix of small businesses and historic old homes. People are working to get a better sense of place now between the east and the west of the airport and downtown as well as to the north and south - finally!

July 01, 2014

Malls and Malls

2014

There has been so much hoopla in the past few years over the opening of City Creek mall that we may forget that there are many other malls in this state of Zion. The first 'enclosed' shopping mall ever built was Cottonwood Mall in Holladay in 1962, with its anchor stores at opposite ends- ZCMI and J.C. Penny. Just before the Crash of 2008, General Growth Properties tore down the mall and left Macy's standing all by itself. Oops, the GGP then filed bankruptcy itself in 2009 and was split into two companies by the courts. The current owners are the Howard Hughes Corp.

Valley Fair Mall in West Valley opened in 1970 as large new home subdivisions started popping up on the old farmlands out there. Fashion Place was built in 1972. University Mall in Orem followed the trend and opened in 1973 and then got later competition with the Provo Town Center. If you travel around the state you will find the Layton Hills Mall, The Newgate in Ogden, South Town in Salt Lake, the Tanger Outlet in Park City, the Outlets at Zion in St. George and in Lehi, University Mall in Orem, Gateway Mall in downtown and for lack of a better description, the 'theme malls' like Gardner Village and Trolley Square.
Shoppers love a good Mall. I am not a shopper/gatherer. I'm a hunter. That means I do not like to go into a department store and walk up and down the aisles touching the rounders of clothes gathering ideas. If I need a new pair of pants, I know who sells them, what size I wear and what color I need. I want to park reasonably close, run in, purchase and leave. Wandering aimlessly in crowds in and out of stores is not good therapy for me.

The Cottonwood Mall 'hole' of 54 acres weeds and rocks feels like a sad tale of boom and bust, but don't feel badly for the big money boys. Right now the Howard Hughes Corp. is working with Ivory Homes to design a high end housing development within a mixed use of new stores around the Macy's island in the Holladay dirt. Although no timeline has been announced for ground breaking you can be assured that one of the largest mixed use shopping and housing projects in the Salt Lake Valley since the City Creek Mall will be announced within the year.

In mall news, props to Gateway this past weekend for having a hugely successful sidewalk Chalk Fest for the Foster kids program here in the state combined with a KSL book giveaway for kids. The media giant gave out 20,000 books in just one day. Also, do NOT miss the world of the Broadway Musical WICKED on the sky bridge at City Creek. The costumes and a display of 'Behind the Emerald Curtain' are on display in the sky over Main Street through June 28th. And the bridge itself is lit up green at night while the display is up.

July 01, 2014

The First Picnic

2014

Happy holiday everyone! I heard on the news that 41,000,000 Americans will hit the road this weekend to seek out fun, family and photos. That's @13% of our population out and about. The rest of us I guess will do a staycation or work, right? Picnics with friends, going to a Bee's game, watching fireworks and most likely eating something off a grill. The big show for pyrotechnic fans is BYU's "Stadium of Fire" in Provo at Cougar stadium and in the capitol city it's Sugar House Park.

If you are planning to see the Sugar House show you might drive by a little tiny city park on the corner of 1700 South and 500 East. It's not a piece of grass where you could throw a Frisbee but a park mostly comprised of big granite boulders. This is the First Encampment Park and is where a group of Utah Pioneers - 109 men, 3 women and 8 children camped on July 22, 1847. It's hard when you drive by this piece of ground to visualize this big group camping there because everything around has been long developed. The park is surrounded by typical streets lined with Victorian, WWI and WWII housing, bus stops, an auto garage/mechanic and an Arctic Circle and 7-11. Yet Parley's Creek runs under the streets in the neighborhood and that's probably why the pioneers decided to camp there so long ago.

The boulders in the park have the names of the original folk who camped there etched into them and to me it feels a bit like gravestones. There are no people buried there though. The rocks have been placed carefully and represent our mountains and the creeks and pathways that come out of our hills. A clerk to Joseph Smith and Brigham Young was one of the campers there and wrote in his journal: "We descended a gentle sloping table land to a lower level where the soil and grass improved in appearance...The wheat grass grows six or seven feet high, many different kinds of grass appear, some being 10 or 12 feet high-after wading through thick grass for some distance, we found a place bare enough for a camping ground, the brass being only knee deep, but very thick; we camped on the banks of a beautiful little stream."

The group moved on to downtown where City Creek waters were clear and sweet and thus downtown Salt Lake City grew around the ready and available water. We grew so much from those pioneer days that City Creek was also put underground so streets could be built. The 'creek' in City Creek Mall is fake and the only evidence of the creek is actually up the canyon of the same name. This urban pocket park was dedicated in 1997. Check it out sometime when you're jogging or biking by this historic site.

July 01, 2014

Ice in the Summer

2014

Okay, wow. Someone reminded me the other day that there used to be an indoor ice rink in Sugar House. My brain activated a very clear image of me and my friend Mike going to Hygeia Iceland one night during college. It was located right across from the Irving School apartments on 2100 South in Salt Lake City. I do not and did not then ice skate. I believe we were drunk as skunks and just slid out on our tennis shoes to cause havoc during a fundraiser for the Westminster football team. But I digress. Summer's about here, so who's thinking about ice skating? Many folks love the ice because they grew up playing hockey and the Super Bowl of hockey, the Stanley Cup final, begins this week. All puck fans will have their Kings or Rangers bets on. Utah has a team but it's a minor one (The ECHL), like the Salt Lake Bees are in stature to the New York Yankees. Sadly, out of the original 26 teams only 10 are left. Minor league hockey hasn't been faring as well as the big leagues.

From what I have discovered, Utah's first high school hockey team was established and played at Hygeia Iceland in 1969. They were sponsored by the now defunct (and politically incorrect) Sambos Restaurant. There was a smaller rink up in Ogden around the same time known as the 'Cow Palace' which had a half sized rink and produced many amateur teams . In the early '60's the Deseret News reported that youth programs were skating at both the old Salt Palace and at Hygeia Iceland. The Salt Lake Eagles team played in Sugar House and traveled to rinks in the Intermountain West and Alberta Canada in 1960-61 . And the State archives have photos of people skating at Liberty Park in 1917, which makes sense as many Utahns emigrated from Scandinavian countries where skating was the norm.

Where can you ice skate or play hockey here? The most famous rink is of course the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns. The University of Utah has a rink at the sports complex on Guardsman Way with Saturday theme nights with music and a disco ball for only $4.00 and a $2.00 skate rental. West Valley has the Acord Ice Center and South Davis has a rink for public skating as well. When it gets hot this summer it's cool and cheap to glide along the ice indoors. Even better, there are summer hockey leagues to get your game.

My favorite trivia about ice skating in Utah is: 1) Frank Zamboni was born in Eureka, Utah. He invented a machine that goes along the ice surface to shave it, smooth it and adds a fresh sheen of thin water to make more ice as it passes; 2) my agent Ben skated as 'Woody' for Disney on Ice around the world; 3) 2002 Olympic skater Michelle Kwan lived at American Towers condominiums during the games; 4) Dorothy Hamill, who won gold for the USA in Olympic skating in 1976 was the woman who ran the Olympic torch from the parking lot into the U of U stadium during the opening Ceremonies of 2002. Speed skater Eric Heiden refused to come to the 2002 games here because he wasn't chosen to light the Olympic torch. What a putz. The 1980 gold-medal U.S. Hockey team got that honor.

GO RANGERS!

2014

Imagine that you wanted to buy a small commercial space with your partner. The two of you have come up with the newest thing every hipster needs and you have to start manufacturing it NOW. You don't have all the cash to just buy the place outright and must go to a bank and get a small loan. Imagine being turned down for that loan because your partner is of your same sex. Or, what if you were two enterprising, married, homosexual men who wanted to buy a home together and get a mortgage in both names? Up until 1974 it was totally legal to deny credit in the good ol' USA to people because of their sex, age, race, color, religion, national origin, or marital status.

Forty years ago this year the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed. This was during a time our country was changing faster than the truth out of a politician's mouth in an election year. I know I couldn't get a credit card in college until my junior year, simply because I was a woman (and an unmarried one at that!). Even when I got my real estate license in 1984 I experienced lenders who would not work with same sex couples to put together home loans for them to buy houses and condos. Lenders got out of this legal loophole by initially proclaiming "Gays/LGBT people are not a protected class and the 1974 law does not protect homos."

It would be very odd nowadays for a bank or mortgage company to deny a loans to people because they were from the LGBT community. Why? My humble opinion boils down to this: 1) banks are greedy; 2) many lenders work for companies that have valid anti-discrimination policies in place, and that to deny a loan to an LGBT person/couple would be against corporate policy; and 3) some lenders knew from the beginning what was right and what was wrong and gladly gave loans out to anyone with good credit and employment history.

The Human Right's Campaign reported on their website: "On January 24, 2011, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published a proposed rule that would require grantees and participants of HUD programs to comply with local and state non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and gender identity. The public comment period on this rule has concluded and a core rule implemented the changes. They added that "Family is defined as one or more eligible persons living with another person or persons, regardless of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status, who are determined to be important to the eligible person or person's care or well-being." The key here though is what ARE the non-discrimination laws in Utah protecting the LGBT community? We still have not seen a successful vote in the Utah State Legislature protecting all people, including LGBT people from discrimination in housing. Happy Pride everyone.

May 30, 2014

Zonal Gardening

2014

If you've recently moved to Utah and have a bit of dirt available to grow things this summer, it's getting time to plant! If you lived here a while you do know what grows and what doesn't grow well. Putting in a garden area, improving landscaping is one of the easy ways to create value and gain equity in a home that you own. The challenge is you've got to figure out what to plant. Each state in the USA is in a different zonal gardening region, and once you look this up on the internet you'll see what vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees do best in Utah. The Zonal Gardening system explains why you don't see palm trees growing outside in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Moab has a different climate than Logan just as Delta's is different from Salt Lake City.

When it comes to fruit and vegetable farmers we've got major state pride. Green River, Utah is where some of the best melons in the world are grown. The desert climate of hot days and cool nights helps the watermelons and cantaloupes store sugar and make them sweet as candy. If you're from north of the Capitol City then you know we've got terrific giant black sweet cherries and soft ball sized peaches. I was grinding my teeth the other day after one of our local grocers was interviewed on the news about the California drought, and he commented "I don't know where I'll be able to get my melons anymore." And this from the mouth of a guy who promotes locally grown produce!

Whether it's the mindset of a new generation or a reaction to the Crash of 2008, more and more people are getting their fingers dirty and growing things. My wife and I live in a condo and we plant in about 30 pots. We've experimented with our unique deck 'zone' and have been able to get a head start and trick Mother Nature to get fresh tomatoes by Memorial Day. I think many folks love the fact that it's easy to grow tomatoes, peppers, cilantro and zucchini in the back yard or in pots with not having to own a tractor and irrigation system. There are a multitude of community gardens where folk without dirt can come and plant in their neighborhood. Wasatchgardens.org exists to build community by providing the space to garden and the expertise if you don't know how to do it. And slco.org/urbanfarming/communitygardens/garden map will show you where there are gardens in the County.

The Winter Market of the Downtown Alliance is now closed but the Summer Market begins on June 14th. The 'People's Market', now called the '9th West Farmers Market' opens on Mother's Day at Jordan Park on 1000 South and 900 West. Those who don't garden can find early produce there. Statewide there are more and more markets popping up and you can find them listed at utahsown.utah.gov/farmersmarkets. For Zonal gardening and what to plant where and when go to garden.org or stop into one of our many local garden stores and ask the experts.

May 02, 2014

Comic Con

2014

I just got to spend time with 100,000 of my closest friends at Comic Con: The FanXperience this past weekend at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Holy spandex, Batgirl! That was like Burning Man meets Nerds in Space. I was asked to be on a panel on sexism and objectification in Cosplay and then afterward I got to consensually hug and drool over Elvira in the flesh. As I walked away from the crowd in a self-induced cloud I saw a sign hanging high in the vending area with the word "Evermore". What is it you ask? It's a Harry Potter meets Jack the Ripper-smelling Victorian 'adventure park' that is to open next year in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Poor ol' Lagoon ain't gonna know what hit it when this "First Adventure Park in the World" opens.

Lagoon, the 27th oldest amusement park in the U.S.ofA operating in the same location was not our first playland, but it was the first park west of the Mississippi River. It first opened in 1886 and was one of three amusement parks that operated on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Today it is located in downtown Farmington, Utah and open on Saturdays and Sundays and weekly during the summer season. The rides weren't electric powered like they are today - think Jet Star and the Wild Mouse, Wicked and Flying Aces. The fun back then came in the form of row boats, dancing, music and food and the first 'ride' was a sled down a hill into the lagoon pond. The first Fun house at Lagoon opened in 1929 and OMG there was betting and legal horse racing there until the State Legislature but a stop to that bunch of sin!

As a side bar, Utah is famous for its mega roller coast designs. Arrow Dynamics in Clearfield, Utah designed the Matterhorn Bobsled at Disneyland, the Corkscrew at Knott's Berry Farm, the Haunted Mansion and X at Six Flags Magic Mountain. Lagoon has one of their coasters but doesn't have the space or money to put in a giant one on its property.

Evermore is not selling itself on rides, roller coasters and rowdy fun. Their website is touting the Victorian mysteryland as an attraction open all year round featuring themed events like a Carnival of Wonders, a Rippers Cove and Christmas/Halloween seasonal events. The park with have a dozen retail shops, three high end restaurants, a three acre lake, a two acre town square with a performance stage, elaborate gardens and a huge cast of professional performers. Professional makeup artists and costumers from amusement parks and haunted houses will be making the people and the 40 acre place period believable. Will it attract visitors? The founder of Evermore is the same man who's banking that non-drinkers in Utah will pay $15 a piece for virgin cocktails at his high end club he's building on 400 South and West Temple in Salt Lake City.

A news item I saw on television the other night stated that some dance clubs in Las Vegas are taking in more than the casino's attached to them these days. Amusement parks like Lagoon are just as popular as they were a century ago. I think we have more Halloween horror houses than anywhere else in the country raking in millions. We'll all look forward to some great escape, even if it is in beautiful downtown Pleasant Grove, Utah.

2014

The East High Alumni Association likes to say, "One cannot travel anywhere in Utah and not meet someone who went to, or had a relative who went to, or knows someone who graduated from East High." That's probably a very true statement since the school is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. West High School in Salt Lake City is the oldest public school in Utah but its arch rival, East High, used to be the same school and they were formerly known as East Side High and West Side High. East's school colors were red and black and West's were black and red. They had one school newspaper and just one yearbook between them.

Utah in general has a unique education history. My alma mater, Wasatch Academy in Mt. Pleasant was established in 1875. Rowland Hall is the oldest co-ed college prep school in the state as it opened its doors in 1867. In southern Utah the first school opened at Fort Cameron, near Beaver back in 1883. After the state began being populated in the 1950's most schools were located in church meeting houses. Services were held on Sundays in Stakes and Wards and then the doors would open the rest of the week for classes offered to local school children. That makes complete sense since church buildings were generally the largest and most well built structures in our early history. The Utah Historical Encyclopedia states that from 1867-1900 there were 100 private schools in Utah created by Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregationalists to "Christianize" Utah Mormon children. In 1933 the LDS Church turned over its secondary schools statewide over to the State of Utah.

I remember East High on the corner of 1300 East and 800 South. It burned mightily in 1972, gutting the historic building. That was two years after Saltair burned to the ground and unfounded rumors were rampant at the time that a major arsonist was on the loose. Both properties were eventually rebuilt and East High became even more famous thanks to several Disney Channel films (High School Musical, 1, 2 and 3) were filmed in part there. For locals you may have heard of the following people who attended East High: Roseanne Barr (dropout, age 17); James Irwin (astronaut who walked on the moon); folksinger, story teller, labor organizer Utah Phillips; Ken Sansom (voice of Rabbit in Disney's Winnie the Pooh); Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner; and a multitude of athletic-types like Sione Pouha (defensive tackle for the New York Jets), Herman Franks (major league baseball manager and Will Tukuafu from the San Francisco 49ers.

Sadly, East High school has received bad press over the years. In 2007, three members of the football team were arrested and expelled after raping fellow football players. In 2012 a soccer team player assaulted someone during a soccer match that was in such poor tastes it appears as an example of bad sportsmanship on YouTube. The first gay-straight alliance club at a school in our State debuted at East High in 1995. That was a good thing for human rights but student Kelli Peterson who created the group was not welcomed with open arms in the conservative atmosphere at the time.

You are welcome to tour East High school any day as a visitor or alum. At the peak of the High School Musical phenomenon they were getting requests at least 50 times a day by folks who wanted to see where the movies were shot.

May 02, 2014

Group Bathing

2014

I've been spending a lot of time lately at the north end of Salt Lake City, our new 'frontier' for residential and commercial growth. As the Kingdom of Sugar House prepares for the filling of the Sugar Hole with beer, renters and boutiques, the Marmalade Hole awaits attention. Rumors are that the library plan for the site is a million bucks over budget. The commercial buildings across the street still stand empty since they were built but never leased during the Great Recession but the Landis Lifestyle Salon is booming, Club Jam is well, jammin' and I personally believe the Garage Bar on Beck Street still has of the best burgers in the State. There are boarded up buildings being sold to investors along this route and within a few years this forlorn part of the city will be completely new and shiny all along 300 West up to North Salt Lake via Beck Street.

Who was Beck that got his own street named after him? He was a miner who built a destination hot springs in 1885 up there by the train tracks and refineries. Back then people did not have indoor plumbing. There was no water wasting toilets and no hot steam showers off the master bedrooms of early Utah homes. Folks went to natural hot water spots to bathe, and bathe with others. Becks little spa was a hit with dirty rail road men getting off shift and it lasted as a public bath for just under a hundred years until the State took the land so a little road called I-15 could run through it.

Warm Springs Hot Springs (just north of 800 North as 300 West turns into Beck Street) was once as hip as Bar X and Beer Bar (sans alcohol). You can tell it was RuPaul 'faaaabulous' by the remnants of the Spanish Colonial style building that stands where the Children's Museum used to operate from. The pools and parties were grand at Warm Springs. And there used to be four hot springs options within three miles of the park along the underground geothermal fault zone: Becks, Hobo, Clark and Wasatch. All are known as the Warm Springs area, but Warm Springs is the only one that was restored by our fair city leaders. The building where the baths and pools were closed by our city commission when pieces of the building started sloughing from the ceiling and hitting swimmers. It reopened a few times but it sits abandoned and unsafe and now deteriorating in our harsh elements. In the park surrounding the old building is a nature trail where you can walk your dog and read placards about the history, ecology and geology of the area. The 93 degree spring water is still there but no longer deep enough to float in and relax. However it has enough hot water left to become a bath for the transients who live in camps on the hills above it. It is also the only park I know of in the city where there is a bronze statue dedicated to a dog.

In this national month that pays tribute to the bike, head up to 840 N. Beck Street (300 West) and explore. There are tennis courts, a playground, trails and picnic tables. If you catch the rays for too long, head a little further north and catch some tunes and burgers on the patio of the Garage Bar as a way to enjoy our warm spring weather and discover our town.

March 23, 2014

The Scary Shilo

2014

The scary old Shilo Inn is getting a new owner and a total multi-million dollar rehab. You know the hotel. It's the only building here in the Capitol City that looks like bad Vegas hotel with red neon running up on all the 12 floors. If you were born in the 1970's or recently moved here you wouldn't know the history of the place. It is sadly the scene of the largest murder/suicide in Utah's history back that took place back in 1978 and it's a horrible story.

It was a regular summer morning and commuters were getting off the freeway and heading in their usual routes to work when bodies starting falling out of the sky on onto the corner of 200 South and West Temple from the Shilo Inn. Pedestrians and cars alike had to dodge what turned out to be a woman and her seven children falling out of the warm sky. Some folks on the ground were screaming STOP! up at the hotel room balcony where the woman stood and yet others yelled JUMP! in anger when the mother finally stepped over the edge. I remember that morning. We didn't have cell phones back then and there were no Instagrams of the bodies littering the streets.

Rachel David threw her children or ordered the older ones off the balcony of her hotel room there and then she followed them to her death. One child survived. Ms. David was the widow of an excommunication Mormon known as Immanuel David. He had committed suicide a few days earlier by sucking up enough carbon monoxide to die, because the Feds were after him. His given name was Bruce Longo and he believed he was God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. God was about to be indicted on tax evasion-although press at the time never said what God did for a living, only that he was head of a religious cult and lived from hotel to hotel with his wife and brood. His cult was his family and he didn't have any known followers outside the hotel rooms.

Only one of the family survived: a daughter also named Rachel. I heard that she landed straddling a wall and horrific injuries. She was in surgery for a full day and was confined to a wheelchair and later moved to a relative's house in Coloroado. I think she recently passed.

If you got to www.hauntedhouses.com there are reports of a woman and a little girl who haunt the hotel to this day. The ghosts (like other hotel guests) "enjoy the first floor pool area" and guests here laughter in the video gaming area when no else is in there. Supposedly the ghosts of the David mother and one of the children play at lot of tricks on the maintenance crew by unscrewing light bulbs and moving tools around.

The new owners are going to turn the Shilo Inn into a Holiday Inn. The neon is going away and the only outside glass elevator in the city will be torn off the north side of the building. You may have noticed this past holiday season that the giant red Christmas tree was not lit up on top of the roof-an indication of the sale of the property. It doesn't matter what the owners of the Holiday Inn franchise do to the cosmetics of the building. The place will always be a murder scene and the ghosts of the mom and children may forever wander the building.