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Taylorsville Journal

Southeast Taylorsville residents relaunch their District 3A Community Council

Mar 31, 2023 01:46PM ● By Carl Fauver

Secretary Lesley Gabbitas, Chairman Dean Paynter and Vice Chair Laddie Houck (L-R) call the first meeting of the “re-establishing” Community Council 3A to order. (Courtesy Anna Barbieri)

Community councils have been a hit-and-miss proposition in Taylorsville for nearly as long as the city has been around. In theory, each of the city’s five council districts could have two community councils. None of them do. In fact, until last month, only two of the five council districts even had a single community council.

That newest council – the third across Taylorsville – is actually a “resurrection” rather than something brand new. It’s coming back in Councilwoman Anna Barbieri’s District 3. About 15 people attended Community Council 3A’s first reorganization meeting on the last day of February. They were hoping for many more than that at their second gathering (March 28, after press deadline).

“I don’t think there is any greater joy than when citizens have eyes on their homes, on their streets and on their community,” Barbieri said. “When people participate in their neighborhood, it creates a stronger community, lowers crime, makes others want to move in, increases property value and improves our lives. I think they all fit together. I am very excited residents are trying to put this community council back together.”

Community Council 3A last held regular, monthly meetings more than a decade ago, long before Barbieri was their city councilwoman. Back in 2010, 40-year Taylorsville resident Dean Paynter was the chair. But he says other issues forced him to give the chairmanship up. Not long after, the group stopped meeting.

But now – fully retired and with a little more time to spare – Paynter has decided to try, try again.

“I spoke with Anna (Barbieri) late last year about trying to get a community council going again, and she thought it was a good idea,” Paynter explained. “So, we decided to get through the holidays and then try to rekindle it early this year.”

Paynter’s “official” appointment as Community Council 3A Chair was carried out by Mayor Kristie Overson. And it wasn’t her first time to call upon his volunteerism. About a year ago, the mayor named Paynter to the city’s 5-member Citizen Advisory Board. That’s the group that reviews Taylorsville Police high-speed chases and uses of force.

“Dean has been an active community volunteer for years and years, instrumental in a number of projects,” Overson said. “He’s a great choice as chairman. Community councils bring neighborhoods together. People come to ask questions – about the city, about the school district, about the library or the senior center. Our other two active community councils have gotten a lot done.”

One of those “other two” community councils is in Councilman Earnest Burgess’ District 1, while the other is in Councilman Curt Cochran’s District 2.

“The community council in my District meets once a month and I attend nearly all of their meetings,” Cochran said. “One of their big concerns right now is the fence along the canal road, from 4800 to 5400 South, near 1300 West. They offer input and help keep the city council focused on the issue.”

Paynter reports no particular “burning issues” arose during his group’s initial meeting. Primarily it was an introduction of the community council leadership and a question-and-answer session. But he is confident specific concerns will follow as the group continues to gather and grow.

“Rarely is anything good ever free,” Paynter concluded. “We stand on the shoulders of residents and leaders who have helped make Taylorsville a very nice place to live. All of us have an opportunity and responsibility to invest something to keep it that way.”

In addition to Barbieri, the other guest speaker at the inaugural District 3A Community Council meeting was Taylorsville Community Outreach Coordinator Jay Ziolkowski. Paynter reports “Jay Z’s” discussion focused on the city’s emergency preparedness plan and various yard and property beautification ordinances.

The secretary of the new community council is Lesley Gabbitas while its vice chair is Laddie Houck.

Houck is a 25-year veteran of the Army National Guard… a 24-year vet of the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Department where he served as a deputy (though never in Taylorsville)… and a 23-year resident of the city. He says he and Paynter had never met until Paynter called to ask him to serve as vice chair.


“Someone recommended me to him and when Dean called, I agreed with him it sounded like a good idea to reestablish the community council,” Houck said. “If people want change or improvements in their neighborhood, they need to be involved. There’s no point in griping about property tax notices after they arrive. You need to be aware of what’s going on ahead of time. I’m glad Dean asked me to help.”

Both Paynter and Houck admit to being a bit disappointed in the turnout at their first community council meeting. After handing out some 1,600 handbill announcements to homes and businesses in their district, fewer than 1% of that many people came out (about 12 to 15). But they are confident word will spread.

Overson added Taylorsville residents may underestimate just how much clout an active and vocal community council can have.

“In District 2, members of the community council were instrumental in raising the issue of a sound wall being needed along Redwood Road,” she said. “That was an expensive project. But because they kept raising it as a safety and beautification need, eventually it got done. That council has also been very active in getting improvements at Vista Park. Meantime, the other community council was very involved in the improvements made at Cabana Park. I think residents who become active in this new community council will also be pleased with the results they see.”

The next District 3A Community Council meeting is scheduled for 6:00 pm, Tuesday April 25, in room 102 at Bennion Jr. High School.

If you live in a part of Taylorsville not currently represented by a community council – and that is most of the city – you can contact your city council member to learn more or to volunteer to help launch a new group.

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