Mayor Troy Walker took the podium with gusto at a Feb. 4 Chamber of Commerce luncheon for his State of the City speech, fresh off a mention of Draper in “The New Yorker” magazine’s article titled “How Utah Became The Next Silicon Valley.”
Walker was the only mayor quoted in the article that also noted Draper’s low unemployment rate, rapid growth and a transition from a residential community to one that also courts businesses for the tax revenue they provide.
Walker spoke of the importance of people in our lives.
“If you think about yourselves, your businesses, your friends and your family, think about how valuable those associations are,” he said. “You’re what provides the economic engine that makes this community work. It’s a great place to do business, own a business, shop and be involved in commerce.”
The mayor also commended the city’s staff and police department and said the city council has the best interest of the community at heart.
“We don’t always agree, but we work together well. We’re doing some of those things that only the government can do,” he said.
The mayor mentioned Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts and Parks tax that may fund a county recreation facility in Draper. The city is said to be listed as a high priority for a facility of that type, though there’s been no commitment from the county yet.
Walker also expressed excitement over private developer Godfrey Properties & Design who came forward with an offer to purchase the old Park School just prior to the Dec. 31, 2014 deadline the city council had given for that building to either be purchased or demolished.
“They’re going to preserve and make viable that building. (It’s) also an opportunity to see old and new come together,” he said.
“I can’t think of a time that I’ve been happier where I’ve lived,” Walker said.
City Manager David Dobbins also addressed those at the luncheon. Dobbins shared city statistics including that Draper’s population is now over 45,000 with nearly 12,000 households and a median resident age of 30. Dobbins touted the over 7,000 acres of open space for parks and trails that the city has within its 30 square miles. He noted a strong demand for multi-family housing such as apartments for today’s generation that he said typically doesn’t want to own a home or stay in the same job for extended periods of time.
Dobbins also indicated a trend in interest for warehouse space and “flex space,” meaning manufacturing, distribution and office space all in one. He spoke of transit-oriented development north of Bangerter at the Vista Station commercial area. Dobbins said TOD sites are oriented toward public transit, with higher densities of commercial and residential development over other parts of the city. He said that project has recently been purchased by a new developer, though no plans have been submitted and construction has yet to begin.
Both Dobbins and Walker mentioned relocation of the prison in their speeches. Dobbins showed a poster that read, “Not in Draper. We’ve served our time. 63 years is long enough.” He said discussion of the hot topic began back when Jon Huntsman Jr. was governor.
“I did not anticipate the negative backlash that has come out,” he said, adding, “We support putting it in the right place and a place it makes sense for the next 100 years.”
Walker spoke of the potential for development of the prison site, surrounded by freeway and highway.
“How can you do worse than a prison? We have a very unique opportunity to really become an integral part of our state’s economy and the national economy,” he said.