On a square block of West Salt Lake's Euclid neighborhood Monday, Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini walked the broken-down sidewalks and gutterless streets that have residents crying for action.
While the citizens appreciated attention to the area's blight, they took advantage of having a captive audience with the foot-bound mayor and emphasized that it takes more than cement and asphalt to make a good neighborhood.It takes hope for the future - something many citizens fear isn't in the cards for the area surrounding Euclid Avenue.
A cortege of at least 20 men, women and children trailed behind the mayor as she walked the perimeter of the block from 100 South to 200 South, 900 West to 1000 West. Even more residents leaned over their fences to greet Corradini as she passed. All agreed there were problems in Euclid. Some said they appreciated the city's attention. Others said it was too long in coming.
"This is my first exposure to these issues," Corradini said following the walking tour. She did have words of encouragement for the group but didn't make promises of improvement.
"I don't go see something for the first time and make a commitment," she said.
The residents of Euclid neighborhood are mostly working class or retired, people who are proud of their turn-of-the-century homes and want to remain where they've put down roots.
They agree the streets have deteriorated and the sidewalks are either covered with mud and weeds or are nonexistent. But the real problem is determining the Euclid area's future as a neighborhood, they say.
"It's fighting back against blight and deterioration," said Michael Ortega, staff support coordinator for Crossroads Urban Center. "By closing it . . . it would be a slap in the face to the neighborhood. As you can see it's not a dump."
Ortega referred to the potential impact of a downtown access project to open an interchange at 200 South and I-15, which may require the destruction of several area homes, according to Ortega.
"Which of these families are you going to kick out?" he asked.
Florence Garcia, 81, politely shook the mayor's hand at the corner of 100 South and 900 West. An elegant, white-haired woman dressed in a neat coat and gloves, Garcia quietly told the mayor she and her husband still don't have curb and gutter, despite having lived in their home for more than 40 years.
But more importantly, Garcia later said, she feared having to move if 200 South is adversely affected by the access project.
"We're too old to sell that home and move somewhere else," she said. "What do we do? That frightens me."
Residents are banking on their spirit to push forward the much-needed improvements and, ultimately, to save the neighborhood.
"This neighborhood wants to be a neighborhood," Ortega said. "When you're talking about the neighborhood, come talk to us."