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Salt Lake City Residents Opposed To Inland Port Celebrate Small Win With The Delay Of A Vote

A photo of Sarah Buck speaking at a podium. People with signs that read 'Stop the polluting port' stand around her.
Emily Means
Salt Lake City resident Sarah Buck spoke at a protest outside the offices for the Utah Inland Port Authority. She said she and other members of the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition were there to demand an end to the inland port.

A small demonstration Monday by opponents of Utah’s inland port was capped off with an exciting announcement for attendees as the port authority postponed a vote on the creation of a new board that would be able to issue up to $150 million in bonds to fund infrastructure projects.

“I have some breaking news,” said Deeda Seed, an organizer with the Stop the Polluting Port Coalition. “The Port Authority has canceled its meeting … You've made a difference.”

In a statement, Jack Hedge, the port authority’s executive director, said he delayed the meeting “in an attempt to bring this [public infrastructure district] discussion back to merit arguments, and not further fuel the political fires.”

Last week, Mayor Erin Mendenhall and Council Chair Amy Fowler also sent a joint letter to the port authority asking them to pump the brakes on the proposed public infrastructure district — which Seed credited in helping delay the vote.

They said the proposal was short on details, and the new board didn’t include representatives from Salt Lake City, which officials said was a big concern considering the bonds could be paid back with city tax revenue.

Both Mendenhall and Fowler said they learned about all of it just a couple weeks ago.

“Can you help us understand [Utah Inland Port Authority’s] urgency to take action so quickly when so many questions remain unanswered and the public has not had a meaningful opportunity to learn about the [public infrastructure district], and proposed infrastructure projects, and weigh in?” their letter read.

Some residents were also worried about the environmental impacts of any port-related projects.

Sarah Buck spoke at the protest just hours before the vote was scheduled.

“We are a valley that struggles with air quality year-round,” Buck said. “We do not have the Los Angeles sea breezes, and our mountain ranges, they essentially lock that pollution in.”

Seed said she’s pleased with the decision to postpone the vote but knows the issue isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

“I think the public has been heard today,” she said. “But of course, this battle is not over. There are very legitimate questions that have not been answered at all about this.”

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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