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South Salt Lake Journal

Festival celebrates the Jordan River, a natural attraction for all to enjoy

Sep 30, 2019 04:50PM ● By Bill Hardesty

South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood leads residents out along the Jordan River Trail. (Bill Hardesty/City Journals)

By Bill Hardesty | [email protected]

Have you ever heard of the Get To The River festival? If not, you missed it. It was a 30-day celebration held in September to celebrate, protect and repair the Jordan River. Counties and cities sponsored a variety of community events along their stretch of the river.

"The Jordan River corridor runs through three counties and 16 cities flowing from Utah Lake, through the Salt Lake Valley and finally into The Great Salt Lake. The 50-mile river has tremendous value—environmentally, recreationally, economically and culturally—for both the communities through which it flows and for the entire Wasatch Front," declared the festival’s website.

Hundreds of people walk, run, skate or cycle along the Jordan River Trail. The 45-mile trail begins in Saratoga Springs and ends at the Legacy Parkway Trail. Along the way, it winds through a variety of urban settings and offers area residents a place to enjoy nature.

A floating trail is planned in the future allowing boaters to enjoy the slow flow river.

For the festival, South Salt Lake planned a variety of events along the river.

Ride with the mayor

On Sept. 9 and 16, South Salt Lake Mayor Cherie Wood and other residents rode along the trail. Before the first ride, a resident voiced to the mayor concern about riding along the river.

"That is why we do this. To show that the river is a great place to enjoy," Wood replied.

The riders began and ended at General Holm Park (1050 W. Carlisle Park Lane). Along the way, they saw a deer family in the trees and enjoyed the lower temperatures along the river.

Neighborhood night

On Sept. 10, Wood along with other city officials including South Salt Lake Police Chief Jack Carruth held a neighborhood night at the Riverfront Apartments (745 W. Fine Dr.). The community joined together to enjoy food, hear updates, and most importantly ask questions.

One of the biggest issues on resident's mind was the soon to open 1000 West Homeless Resource Center (HRC). Carruth explained there will be an increased police presence in the area once the HRC opens. A question was asked if the state was going to take it over. The feeling by city officials was that while a possibility, it isn't likely.

Another concern was the new Riverfront Elementary school now under construction. Riverfront Elementary will replace Roosevelt Elementary starting in the 2020 school year. When open, the projected student population is 580. Residents are looking forward to the opening because the Riverfront Elementary will be a true neighborhood school. Students are now bused to Roosevelt Elementary at 3225 S. 800 East making it hard for parents to be involved.

Tracy Aviary was also at the gathering to talk about their new nature center under construction at James Madison Oxbow Park, 1100 W. 33rd South, and to get public input.

Speakers pointed out that the portion of the river running through South Salt Lake is mellow and not deep. This makes it an excellent stretch of water for canoeing and kayaking. In fact, on Sept. 23, Wood along with others launched boats from James Madison Oxbow Park and paddled along the river. 

After learning about the river at the Neighborhood Night event, local resident Travis Massey and his children Lucy and Johnny said, "They might start enjoying the river."

Sept. 23, Wood along with others shoved off from James Park Oxbow Park and paddled along the river. With its gentle water, paddling is easy along the river making it a perfect way to enjoy water, river life, and a view of the Wasatch mountains. The turnout was four times greater than last year.

"It is an oasis in an urban city," Wood said.

Lisa Hamilton, a 12-year resident, agreed, "It is a beautiful view."

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