OUTDOORS & RECREATION

Residents hope new Taufer Park area gets safety upgrades alongside new playground

May 31, 2024, 6:42 PM | Updated: 7:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A new playground is being installed Saturday at Taufer Park in Salt Lake City, but some residents are still worried about crime, drug use, and homelessness in the area.

The playground and park are located at 700 South and 300 East. Residents who spoke with KSL TV say they’ve witnessed drug use and adults approaching children at the park. On the day KSL TV visited, a loud, verbal altercation between a man and a woman was caught on camera.

11-year-old Adrianna says she’s had drugs offered to her.

“People fight right next to me and almost throw stuff at me,” she said.

Her grandma, Caroline Earnist, said it’s made her want to take Adrianna elsewhere.

“Sometimes people come out and talk to her,” she said.

On Saturday, a new playground is getting installed, thanks to the non-profit KABOOM!, Delta Airlines, and the Utah Jazz, who stepped in to pay for the equipment. This took some of he financial burden off of Salt Lake City’s Public Lands Division, and a 2022 voter-approved bond that will now allow for more funding to make other park fixes.

“I would say all told, more than a million dollars is going to be going into Taufer Park over the next couple of years,” Tom Millar, Salt Lake City Public Lands Department Planning & Design Division Director, said.

“It’s pretty great,” Millar said of the private donations from groups that will help supplement the upgrades.

KABOOM! Is a group whose mission is to try and solve playground inequities by installing playground in underserved communities.

Millar said the further fixes for the park, besides the playground, would happen over the next two years.

Construction, he said, would likely be in 2026 after the city gets feedback from residents through another community design survey.

“The things that have come up so far are, wanting it to be better lit, wanting there to be better sightlines, and wanting there to be more active amenities or assets in the park other than just the playground,” Millar said.

He also said Salt Lake City Police have a dedicated unit that is supposed to patrol the area around the homeless resource center two blocks west.

But some residents still worry they’ll have to keep a close eye on their kids until those upgrades can be made.

Mom Jial Lopez said the new playground is a good starting point. She is hopeful that it will be a catalyst for change.

“We do have tend to have a lot of homeless problems and people hanging out here. But maybe, you know, (the playground) will bring the attention of the cops and they will come out a little bit more, kind of patrol this area and make sure that our children can be at peace and have something to do this summer,” she said.

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Residents hope new Taufer Park area gets safety upgrades alongside new playground