Tooele City staff, community members, and Citi Design — a group contracted by the city to develop a new downtown master plan, held an open house at Tooele City Hall on the evening of March 2 to share ideas about the plan with Tooele residents and businesses and gather feedback.
Around 20 community members attended the open house which took place from 5-7 p.m.
The first step to create the new downtown plan began with a survey that took place from Sept.- Nov. 2022. Over 600 Tooele City residents and individuals who visit the city took the survey which included over 20 questions.
When asked which activities individuals participated in in the downtown area, dining was the most popular answer. Following dining was shopping, government services, and entertainment.
When asked what individuals would like to see more of downtown, the most popular answers were dining, shopping, and entertainment.
The next question asked community members to input an answer for what other services and attractions they would like to see downtown. Answers varied but popular answers included parking, parks, Costco, and more businesses.
When asked which features residents would like to see more of in downtown Tooele, popular answers included public bathrooms, artwork and murals; landscaping and trees, public gathering spaces; and benches and trash cans.
Almost 70% of survey-takers reported that they felt safe in downtown Tooele with around 80% of participants reporting they lived in Tooele City themselves.
To view more survey results, visit https://arcg.is/1myO18
Based on the survey data, Tooele City officials put together six goals with several strategies, which were displayed at the open house.
Goal one is to improve Main Street. This includes the city collaborating with the Utah Department of Traffic to change downtown main street into a safe, comfortable, and pleasant place for people walking, biking, driving, and in the future, using transit.
Strategies for improving main street include implementing traffic calming methods, beautifying the landscape; creating more sculptures and art, and working with UDOT to lower the speed limit.
Goal two includes updating the downtown visual appearance by continuing to provide information on grant opportunities to building owners; applying for grants to assist in remodels and façade improvements; implementing water-wise landscaping to beautify the downtown area with trees and plants, and improving parking area pavement.
Goal three touched on gathering places for community events which includes expanding the size of Veteran’s Park, improving Vine Street, improving side street streetscapes, and creating additional smaller gathering places for outdoor dining and shopping.
Goal four is land use and developing a vibrant mixed-use downtown with opportunities for businesses, residential living, and entertainment. Strategies included removing barriers to attract and develop additional downtown residential living opportunities; promote mixed-use buildings and development, perhaps create a business improvement district, and work with local businesses to consider additional ways to make the downtown area more business-friendly.
Goal five touched on parking and alleys including creating a plan to improve alleyways 50 west and 50 east; make alleyways more pedestrian and business-friendly, review parking ordinances, and explore the use of a parking district.
The last goal was creating a destination for activities and entertainment. This includes developing a unique downtown brand that is known throughout the region, creating programming activities within the area for 200 plus days a year, and developing and pursuing all funding and grant opportunities.
Tooele City’s downtown area runs from just past Utah Avenue to past 100 South, from a little bit past 50 West to just past Garden Street.
After reading the posters detailing the six goals, community members were encouraged to take another survey where they were able to comment on the goals and strategies.
The posters and survey link will be available at Tooele City Hall during business hours for the next week.
“Please come by city hall to view examples of other downtown communities and to read our proposed strategies of how we might improve,” Jared Stewart, Tooele’s economic development coordinator said. “We are already proud of our downtown businesses and community, but are planning to make it something that anyone just passing through can take pride in too.”
The next step from here is to write up the plan and present a draft before the Tooele City Planning Commission and the City Council.
City officials hope the plan will be finalized by early summer of this year.
“Having a plan helps us write down all of our strategies and gives us a metric of where we are going,” Stewart said. “It also points us in the right direction, gives us practical ideas of what to do, and allows us to see our direction and progress.”
Tooele City officials have hired Citi Design, a company from Farmington that provides planning, design, landscape architecture, and consulting services to cities, counties, developers, and architects to help them create plans.
The downtown plan will cost the city $15,000, $10,000 of which will come from a grant.The remaining amount will come from professional and technical fees, which is basically the mayor’s budget, according to Stewart.
“This will be really cost effective,” Stewart said.
In the early 2000’s, Tooele City had a downtown plan that was created by Utah State University, but it is no longer relevant, because of growth and change, according to Stewart.
“This plan will signal that we want to make improvements,” Stewart said. “This will encourage property owners to make improvements with us and to work with us. We want to do this together with them.”