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Residents, experts combine efforts to protect Jordan River

(Draper Journal) -- Warm weather has arrived on the Wasatch Front and South Valley residents are flocking to the Jordan River Parkway. But local environmental activists are concerned that if Utah Transit Authority’s plans for a mixed-use development near 13500 South and the parkway move forward, the community’s long-term goal to renovate and preserve more than 100 miles of the Jordan River may not be realized.

“This is the last opportunity we have to protect the Jordan River,” said Ted Wilson, Utah Rivers Council executive director. “I know we will not get a chance to save this area again.”

On May 21, representatives from the Utah Rivers Council, Utah Open Lands, archeologists, ecologists, area residents and a small group of elected officials visited the site UTA is considering for a future FrontRunner station.

UTA is considering four sites – 12800 South, 13500 South, 14000 South and 14600 South (all sites are located along the Union Pacific rail west of Interstate 15) for a commuter rail station at the south end of Salt Lake Valley. The 13500 South site, located a half mile west of the IKEAstore in Draper, has been deemed “favorable” by UTA due to Draper City support, including an incentive designating the area as a transit station development, and because the area would not require UTA officials to build a pedestrian overpass for commuters to get to their vehicles.

Ecological experts questioned the process by which 13500 South became the preferred location. According to UTA documents, there are three other areas where the station could be built. Two of those sites – 12800 South and 14600 South about a mile west of I-15 – previously were designated as “preferred” sites and UTA purchased the Bluffdale site.

“We would love to have a stop on the land UTA has purchased in Bluffdale,” said Mayor Claudia Anderson. “I’ve received calls from many citizens who want the station. A petition to locate the site here is circulating and already has hundreds of signatures.”

Anderson said a Bluffdale site would serve as a significant business hub in the city and provide a huge boost to its economy.

A possible development at 13500 South near the Jordan River Parkway has rankled more than a few community members in the area. Rep. Trish Beck (D-Sandy) arrived on-site with a large stack of emails from residents of Draper’s Galena Park subdivision (13300 South 250 West). “Our neighbors are afraid that we are about to lose this beautiful ecological area,” she said. Original Article