Planning Commission focus on improved walkability at key Taylorsville shopping areas
Aug 06, 2019 03:17PM
By Carl Fauver
Looking southeast across Utah’s busiest intersection, Redwood Road and 5400 South, Taylorsville officials are working with consultants to devise ways of making the area more pedestrian shopper-friendly. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
Taylorsville Planning Commission members continue to concentrate on assisting city officials in dealing with the ongoing challenge to make aesthetic and walkability improvements in key areas. In a nutshell, they want to help improve livability in a community that has little room for large-scale changes.
“We would love to see more vibrant, walkable areas for our citizens,” said Planning Commissioner Chairwoman Anna Barbieri. “We know improvements can be made at shopping areas along Redwood Road at 5400, 4800 and 4100 South. But the challenge will be in working with existing property owners and commercial tenants because those areas are already built out completely.”
Barbieri is serving her second stint as the planning commission chairperson. She is the longest-tenured member of the seven-person body. Barbieri believes a recent “field trip” the commission took across the Salt Lake Valley helped give her group some redesign ideas.
“They have made so many effective changes in Holladay to improve the look and the walkability of the area,” Barbieri said. “They now have outdoor areas for eating and concerts. The tour gave us a great look at how something old can be made new with a little planning and thought.”
If the intersections of Redwood Road and 5400 South is “commerce ground zero” in Taylorsville, Holladay has its own version of that, where Murray Holladay Road bisects Highland Drive. Taylorsville Planning Commission members toured that area last spring, as part of a meeting with their Holladay planning counterparts.
“This was our second tour like this, following a similar trip out to Herriman last fall,” Barbieri said. “We again shared a reading assignment with the group, as we did with the Herriman Planning Commission. But I think this trip was more relatable to us. Herriman is busy developing lots of untouched land. But Holladay, like us, is dealing with the challenge of improving areas that are already built out.”
The Taylorsville and Holladay Planning Commission members read the book, “Walkable City,” by Jeff Speck. At a follow-up meeting, members of the two bodies discussed ideas from the book and shared with each other photographs they had taken of attractive, walkable areas.
“The Taylorsville Planning Commission is an interesting group to be on, because you get to hear about all the new developments or changes that are coming,” said the group’s new vice chair, Marc McElreath. “It’s nice to have a say in what projects will look like and whether they will be compatible with the vision we have for an area. Because of my background, I tend to look very closely at public safety.”
A 1987 graduate of Taylorsville High School, McElreath moved away from Taylorsville for several years before returning when he purchased his childhood home from his parents in 2012. A year and a half ago, McElreath retired after 24 years working for West Jordan City, the final seven as its fire chief. McElreath joined the planning commission last year to be more involved in the community.
Even newer to the Taylorsville Planning Commission is David Wright, who just joined the body in May. Many of his fellow members are thrilled to see his expertise join them. Wright is a 25-year landscape architect. That has been his job title working for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2011.
“Our tour of Holladay was great; the staff was fantastic,” Wright said. “They have developed a lot of nice walking space through a lot of hard work. Walkability means, ‘Can you get to a grocery store without a car? Are you close enough to mass transit to walk to it?’ There are a lot of areas this might be done in Taylorsville. The Crossroads area might lend itself to this (south and west of Redwood Road and 5400 South). But the challenge is, we have to be able to work with private companies.”
Barbieri is excited to have Wright’s expertise on the planning commission. She’s also pleased with the evolution she has seen in her time with the group.
“When I first started, I think the planning commission was pretty passive and reactive, just making decisions on issues brought to us,” she said. “We did not plan for the future much. But now, the commission is much more forward looking. We are trying to help guide improvements in transportation, housing and commerce that will positively impact the next 20 to 50 years. We are trying to build a community where people want to live and work.”