Bringing County Government Services to Our Community
By Steven L. DeBry - County Council District 5
As your Councilmember, I feel a duty to make sure Salt Lake County Government Services become more accessible for the Southwest part of the county. With the growth in our community, locating our buildings closer to the people who use the services we offer simply makes good financial sense, and makes County government more efficient.
Working cooperatively with my Council colleagues and the Mayor’s Office to make that vision a reality has been a challenge I have been pleased to take on. Here are three examples over the past several years of our successes, right in the heart of West Jordan.
The West Jordan District Attorney Building
Several years ago, the County decided it made sense to build the District Attorney new office space. The project was originally conceived as two buildings, one in downtown Salt Lake City near the Matheson Courthouse, and one near the District Court building in West Jordan. However, when funds set aside to design and construct the buildings proved insufficient, the West Jordan plans were shelved. I thought the decision was penny wise and pound foolish.
The cost for the single downtown building ballooned due to extremely expensive architecture. I urged Mayor McAdams to reconsider the project his predecessor had proposed and find a way to make both buildings work for a more reasonable cost. The Mayor took the opportunity to work together with me, ignoring our party differences, and sharpening our pencils to make better use of taxpayer resources.
You can see the results taking shape in West Jordan right now. On April 6th, I was pleased to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for the new District Attorney Building on the West Jordan government campus at 8080 S. Redwood Road. When the building opens in June of 2017, combined with the downtown District Attorney offices, the County will save more than $13 Million over the next 30 years. That’s $13 Million left in the pocket of families in our community.
West Jordan Library and Viridian Event Center
Another example of bringing our County services to the people resides just a short walk from the new District Attorney building. The West Jordan Library and Viridan Event Center opened in June of 2012. Not only does it serve both library patrons and community functions, it also serves as the headquarters for County Library Administration.
As a member of the County Library Board, I have seen firsthand the heavy usage of the Library, as well as the attached event center. From the day the doors opened, the new West Jordan Library was a smashing success. Nearly 2,000,000 visits to the West Jordan Library since opening. Circulation is stunning. Just in the first 6 months of 2016, a half million items have circulated through the West Jordan Library. In addition, each summer the Library hosts the “Summer Reading Kickoff” at Veterans Memorial Park, with over 4,000 attendees this year. Music, games, crafts, and a train ride for the kids make this a hit. If you missed the celebration this June 4th, be sure to make it next year.
With the new technology used by the Library, taxpayers spend half as much to circulate library materials (books, movies, digital content, and more) compared to the neighboring system in Salt Lake City.
And the event center has been so heavily booked by community groups, bookings happen weeks in advance, and fill up fast. Last year, the Viridian had 351 events. Clearly there was pent up demand from our community now served by the Viridian.
South Redwood Public Health Center
Finally, the newest County Health building will open by the end of this summer on the same campus as the Library and District Attorney building in West Jordan.
The facility will serve as a central hub for County Health services, including the federally funded Women, Infants, and Children supplemental nutrition program, an immunization clinic, vital records, along with our community health divison.
With a TRAX stop nearby, and Redwood Road just to the East, the South Redwood Public Health Center will allow for easier access for patrons compared to the old, more cramped facility. By serving greater numbers of those in need, with more services linked together in one place, the Health Department has the opportunity to do even more to better the quality of life and health in our community.
As the County continues to grow rapidly in our part of the valley, you have my continued commitment to look for more opportunities to improve access to the County services funded with your tax dollars. We deserve nothing less.