The historic train that's been frozen in motion on the northeast corner of Pioneer Park since the mid-'70s may be chugging along to Ogden.
That's one of several cosmetic changes the city is considering to make the park more attractive to residents. Other ideas from a new strategic study for the park include adding a small stage for performances, putting in sand volleyball courts, expanding the playground and allowing farmers to park trucks along an interior sidewalk.Last April, Salt Lake Mayor Deedee Corradini gave the Redevelopment Agency the task of coming up with ways of reclaiming the park and surrounding area for residents. The park had been overrun by drug dealers, prostitutes and homeless people.
The Redevelopment Agency hired Landmark Design Inc., a consulting firm, to come up with a strategic plan for the area from 200 to 500 South and 200 to 500 West. The RDA kicked in $18,000 for the study. The Downtown Alliance provided $10,000, the state gave $5,000 and the rest came from concerned business owners in the area.
Pioneer Park is at the heart of the project.
The design firm released the first portion of the study, which focuses on the park, last week. The rest of the study will be available in January, said Valda Tarbet, project manager.
The changes proposed for the park share one characteristic: They are all aimed at drawing people to the park on a more regular basis.
Many of the changes are relatively inexpensive and could be put in by next summer, Tarbet said. Those improvements include adding volleyball courts, expanding the play area, providing utility hookups for vendors at the farmer's market and widening the north sidewalk so the farmers can park trucks inside the park.
"One of the problems the Downtown Alliance had last year was a lack of parking," Tarbet said. "The vendors used the street, leaving no room for customers. The idea is to bring the activity into the center of the park."
As use of the park grows, the city would look at adding covered picnic areas and trellises that would provide covered space for art shows, Tarbet said.
The study also suggested that the city consider relocating the locomotive. The engine was donated to the city by Union Pacific, said Rick Graham, deputy director of public services.
The city put a fence around it but has done little to maintain the engine or make it accessible to the public. It also hasn't removed asbestos from the boilers.
Meanwhile, the train is rusting away.
"It's completely exposed to the elements," Graham said. "It appears it's a piece of history that is slowly deteriorating."
The Utah Railroad Historical Society in Ogden has expressed interest in making the engine part of its historical exhibit. While the study recommends the engine be donated to the group, the city has made no commitments yet.
"At some time the city has to decide what it wants to do with that engine," Graham said. "If we're going to keep it, we need to take steps to preserve it."