Closing the Gate on Public Security Gates
Oct 07, 2015 12:06PM ● Published by Bryan Scott
By Briana Kelley
South Valley - The efforts and plans for one neighborhood’s quest for a gate came to a surprising end at Riverton’s Aug. 18 council meeting. In a divisive 3-2 vote, Riverton council members voted to repeal an ordinance allowing for a security gate to be placed on public streets. This vote came despite a large turnout to support leaving the amendment on the books.
“We were essentially kind of blindsided by this vote and it was very upsetting,” resident Cameron Francis said. “In the end, we lost the support of our elected representative and it was frankly emotionally devastating to a lot of people down here and very concerning for a lot of people.”
The decision comes after two years of discussion, studies and negotiation on the part of Riverton City, South Jordan City, Ivory Homes and residents on or around Reeves Lane, Riverwalk Drive, Lampton View Drive and Sirmingo Way.
Discussion began in 2013 when residents on Reeves Lane approached their city council member Al Leavitt to place a gate at the north end of the street. Residents were concerned about future traffic through the area due to a new Ivory Homes development and its connection to 11400 South in South Jordan.
“When we learned that the road was going to go right out to 11400 South and traffic would funnel through our neighborhood, that was very concerning to us,” Francis said. “Because our neighborhood has a connection to South Jordan River Parkway Trail system and there is a lot of pedestrian traffic and young families, this was all very concerning to us.”
Residents and city council members reached an agreement that a gate would be constructed. However, construction was delayed and in the interim a city council election took place. The new council revisited the issue at the June 16 council meeting. After some discussion, the council voted to deny allocating funds to construct the proposed gate. Four council members voted to deny allocating funds; councilmember Trent Staggs abstained.
At the Aug. 18 council meeting, many residents spoke out in favor of keeping the ordinance on the books. Many hoped that it could be a future traffic calming tool; others wanted more in-depth traffic studies and more time. Those who supported a gate were primarily concerned about traffic and safety on Reeves Lane. Those who opposed the gate were also concerned about traffic and safety on their streets; they believe that opening Reeves Lane will more evenly distribute traffic throughout the neighborhood.
“It is an issue of civic fair-mindedness,” resident Tish Burker said. “Residents on Sirmingo and Lampton View will experience a decrease in traffic going past their homes as residents on Riverwalk and Reeves exit the subdivision through the new Ivory Homes subdivision. These residents also have young children and are interested in a quiet and peaceful street. Reducing the amount of traffic they experience by moving the traffic in multiple directions seems right and fair. I am optimistic based on the recent traffic count that if Reeves is opened that traffic on Riverwalk will not increase and may decrease. There may be some cut-through traffic, but this will be balanced as residents on Reeves egress via the new connection.”
Despite the vocal majority in attendance, the council voted 3-2 against keeping the ordinance on the books. Council members Sheldon Stewart, Tricia Tingey and Paul Wayman voted against; council members Trent Staggs and Brent Johnson voted for keeping it on the books.
“I spent scores of hours on this issue, sought as much data and spoke to as many impacted residents as I could prior to staking a position,” Staggs said. “Although I do not think the installation of a gate there is the best alternative, I did vote to leave the ordinance on the books, in order to conduct even more research and leave it as an option, in the unlikely event that opening up the area caused a safety issue.” Staggs is the representative over the area in question.
“The hard part is, as a councilman, I’m supposed to represent the citizens of District 4 and the city as a whole and putting up a gate did not serve everyone. As a whole, opening up the street more evenly distributes traffic across all the streets in the area,” Staggs said.
Though residents did not get the gate they expected or hoped for, the city has taken traffic calming measures in the area, including painting ‘Slow 25 MPH’ on the roads and posting a ‘No Truck Route’ sign. Mayor Bill Applegarth was apologetic after the vote, saying “I will take full responsibility for this misunderstanding.”
For some residents, however, the disappointment is real. “A lot of my neighbors have talked about moving. I have seen a lot of people in tears, a lot of people flushed with anger. We went in there with near-unanimous support, we went in there with the support of the planning committee. It’s a real disappointment,” Francis said.