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South Salt Lake Journal

Tracy Aviary Nature Center planned for James Madison Oxbow Park

Jun 04, 2019 04:09PM ● By Bill Hardesty

The view at James Madison Oxbow Park looking up from the Jordan River Parkway Trail. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Tracy Aviary is coming to South Salt Lake City this summer with the opening of a nature center along the Jordan River. The City Council suspended their rules on May 8 to pass on a 7-0 vote an ordinance creating the Nature Center Pilot Project (NCPP) overlay district.

The same ordinance was recommended for approval by the Planning Commission on May 2. The quick pace of approval was the result of using an outside consultant and a lot of groundwork by city staff, the consultant, landowner and applicant. Tracy Aviary and Salt Lake County had placed a hard May 15 deadline.

"I love this project. I support it. I love the idea of having legitimate use of the river. Eyes on the river. This is exciting," said councilwoman Sharla Bynum of District 3.

The ordinance covers phase 1 of the project. The nature center will be built on a 1/2-acre part of the James Madison Oxbow Park at 1100 W. 3300 South. The Park is part of the Jordan River Parkway trail system. 

The nature center will focus on the river's ecosystem and provide ways for the community to interact with nature surrounding the river. The full nature center design is still under discussion.

Phase 1

This phase will consist of visitor education center and office, bike rentals, and restrooms. The center will be open during daylight hours. Currently, there is no plan to charge an entrance fee.

The classroom will be a mobile building on a temporary foundation. It will have an office and a classroom. The bikes will be stored in a shipping container. Local artists will be encouraged to paint a mural on the long side of the container. The bikes are designed for families to use along the Jordan River Trail.

Tim Brown, Tracy Aviary CEO, mentioned that phase 1 allows them to get their feet on the ground as they fundraise hoping to complete an 8 to 10-acre campus for active recreation along the river.

By creating the NCPP overlay district, the complications of a permanent zone change, or a subdivision are avoided.

During phase 1, no live animals will be housed at the nature center. However, Tracy Aviary will use the classroom for their robust educational offerings such as river walks for families and community groups. 

Built within the ordinance is an end date. Tracy Aviary has four years to build the full design. If they choose to leave, the land reverts to the old code and Tracy Aviary would have to restore the property. This temporary overlay district can be extended beyond four years with the city council approval.

The City staff recommended the passage of the ordinance because, "The proposed amendments are consistent with General Plan Goals [of]: 

a. preserving existing open space, and creating new parks, open space and recreation and cultural sites, 

b. enhancing the quality of life in the City by improving the community’s appearance, safety, education, positive outlook, gathering places and positive momentum, 

c. regulating land uses based on compatibility with surrounding uses, residential areas, and economic feasibility, and 

d. establishing the Jordan River Parkway as a desirable place to be enjoyed by all residents, especially families.”

Homeless Resource Center

One concern voiced both at the planning commission meeting and the city council meeting was the distance between the nature center and the new homeless resource center opening this fall. The center is being built at 3380 S. 1000 West.

In both meetings, the consensus was the location was bit of a concern. However, the concern is mitigated by the positive step of the nature center.

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