There is no question that Murray's smokestacks are the most important community landmark in the center of the Salt Lake Valley, and they are worthy of preservation.

These community landmarks represent a past era but can become Murray's 21st-century icons - visual landmarks identifying Murray from all points of the county.Murray citizens can take pride in the smokestacks and what they stand for - hard work, cultural diversity and better environmental regulation. Tall smokestacks such as these were originally built to carry smoke up and over communities, a past method of environmental regulation. The smelter's closing shows how far this country has progressed in environmental controls, and the smokestacks stand as evidence of our progress.

As well as being historic landmarks, the smokestacks are also one of Salt Lake County's best geographic landmarks. There is no visual locator in the Salt Lake Valley of the significance of the smokestacks. For all these reasons, the smokestacks are Murray's icons now and can be into the 21st century.

The Utah Heritage Foundation believes an adaptive reuse of the historic smokestacks makes economic sense, safe stabilization and removal of all environmental contamination is feasible, and as a statewide organization it is our responsibility to support local efforts by groups such as the Murray Historic Preservation Board to save their local heritage.

An adaptive reuse that makes economic sense

Utah Heritage Foundation, in conjunction with the Murray Historic Preservation Board and the state Historic Preservation Office, has developed a viable list of funding options for the preservation and stabilization of the smokestacks.

Opportunities that Murray City or others could pursue to reduce the amount of the bond include:

1. Cost of demolition from current owners instead directed to preservation costs.

2. Cost of removing environmental contamination from current owners instead directed to preservation costs.

3. Marketing rights contribution from future owners, as in similar developments noted below.

4. Nonprofit-organization fund-raising.

5. Telecommunications revenue.

6. Leasing of 1,100 square feet of space in the stack for potential office, retail or community space.

7. Portion of future tax revenue generated by the developed site and surrounding area that Murray contributes to pay the bond before it is due.

All cost estimates that have been presented to the public indicate that stabilization and preservation will cost less than $3.4 million. These studies also have determined that demolition will cost as much as preservation.

Murray City has conducted a thorough investigation into the preservation and stabilization of the stacks. But by issuing a $3.4 million bond for preservation, none of these sources of revenue is being considered.

Communities around the country continue to recognize the significance of their industrial heritage and have found ways to preserve it. Most recently, four smokestacks have been incorporated into the facade of a retail building that serves as the center of a $56 million retail and entertainment complex in San Antonio. The four 200-foot smokestacks of the Alamo Cement Co. range in age from 40 to 74 years and have been stabilized and preserved within the new 41-acre upscale development.

Supporting local preservation efforts

As a statewide historic-preservation organization, our role in communities has been to support the efforts of local preservation commissions.

The Murray Preservation Board has taken a vested interest in preserving the smokestacks, providing constructive suggestions for the city and educating the public as to the smokestacks' viability before the bond election. Its vision for the smokestacks is that they could serve as a multipurpose activity center that includes Murray's tourism office and as a historical-cultural-educational center that could highlight history of the city and smelter industry.