Only six weeks remain for owners of the once-famed Saltair resort to clean up and restore what state officials call an eyesore and health hazard. Otherwise, the state will take it over, perhaps to demolish it once and for all.
"We've not backed off on the deadline one bit," said Jerry Miller, director of the Division of State Parks. "We would hope we could have something nice out there the public could enjoy. If not, we'll have to determine what to do with that property."Owners of the resort, Jim Silver and Wally Wright, are racing to meet the Oct. 12 deadline, but they say the state's demands are unrealistic.
"We will do everything we can, everything reasonable," Silver said. "We're doing everything we can to get things cleaned up."
Crews have already hauled away the scrap metal, paved the parking area, put fencing up around the pavilion and filled in the ponds of stagnant water caused by receding lake waters.
The only demand that will not be met by the deadline, Silver said, is that the pavilion be restored or torn down. "There's just not enough time."
The state says if Silver and Wright, the majority owner, do not meet state conditions, State Parks will tear down Saltair or sell it to someone who will restore it.
Wright and Silver currently lease the property, located within Great Salt Lake State Park, from the Division of State Parks for $7,500 a year plus 2 percent of gross revenues.
For the past 100 years, the Saltair Resort has been a tourism landmark on the south shores of the Great Salt Lake. It has been destroyed and rebuilt four different times.
Floods in 1984 last destroyed the facility, and owners have been struggling to raise capital to rebuild ever since.
"We're trying to get the place looking as nice as possible so people will want to invest in it," Silver said, "and we're just about to that point. It's certainly looking 10 times better than it was a year ago."
Silver calls the state's threats a thinly veiled land grab designed to control admission fees around Great Salt Lake State Park.
"According to our contract, if they cancel for any reason they become owners of all our improvements without any compensation: the new parking lot, the dikes, the pavilion. They would own it all free and clear," Silver said.
Silver also notes the duplicity by State Parks in demanding that Saltair, devastated by floods in 1984, be fully restored and operational. At the same time, the state has yet to reopen nearby Antelope Island State Park, also devastated by the same floods.
State mandates for Saltair resort
-All debris in the concession area must be removed, the building restored or razed and the water slide and paddle boats removed or restored. All remedial construction must be to the satisfaction of the Division of State Parks, the state fire marshal, the chief building official and the Health Department.
- Payment must be made for the annual flat fee, due Jan. 2, for $7,500, and an audit deficiency of $2,232. (Owners have met this requirement.) - Saltair must cease all construction on the breakwater dike extension.
- Copies of insurance policies for all subleases must be submitted to the Division of Parks and Recreation.