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Critics call Garfield School sale unfair

(Salt Lake Tribune) One of Utah's philanthropic powerhouses is accusing Salt Lake City of practicing favoritism in the impending sale of the historic Garfield School to Westminster College, calling the deal preordained and "dark."

"We feel like they're bending over to help this institution, which they've really favored all along," says Thom Williamsen, who, along with his wife, Gail, had plans for turning the Garfield property into a Montessori-style school -- complete with a "green" renovation.

"We weren't given a fair shake," he said of the city's rejection of their plan.

Gail Williamsen, daughter of the late Utah billionaire James LeVoy Sorenson, says their Garfield proposal was misunderstood as a home for special-needs kids, while those students would comprise just a "fraction" of the student body. The innovative elementary, she argues, would be an ideal asset to the Sugar House neighborhood.

"We were the most pure," Gail Williamsen insists. "We're not doing this for profit; we're not doing this for prestige. We are bringing it back to what it's designed for -- it's a school.

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