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  • Where is Allen Park, and what is being done there?
    Located just east of Westminster College in the Sugar House district of Salt Lake City, Allen Park is a nearly eight-acre parcel – the eclectic former home and estate of the Allen family – that stretches along a quarter mile of Emigration Creek. With support from community members and organizations, the City bought the culturally and environmentally important site in early 2020 with the intent to create a public park. Determining how best to adapt the property into a public park is the next step in the process. Creating an Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan for Allen Park was prioritized in the City's Public Lands Master Plan, Reimagine Nature, adopted in 2021. A General Obligation Bond to fund parts of the Citywide public lands master plan was approved by voters in 2022, with $4.5 million identified for Allen Park improvements. With public support, the City desires Allen Park to be an open, public pedestrian park that highlights the site's unique history, preserves and enhances ecological features, repairs and celebrates the artistic expressions scattered throughout the site, and retains the most culturally significant structures on the site. To reach this goal, Salt Lake City Public Lands is following recommendations in the Allen Park Cultural Landscape Report (CLR), completed in 2022, and seeking public input through robust online and in-person public engagement throughout summer and fall 2023 to determine preferred uses for the site.
  • What decisions about Allen Park have been made so far?
    The biggest change is that the Allen Park property is now in public ownership as a park cared for by the City’s Public Lands Department. The City opened Allen Park to public access in October 2020, and it is subject to the same rules that apply to all parks by ordinance. A security guard is posted at the Park’s entrance as a temporary measure, given the danger of numerous dilapidated buildings and the need to protect the unique artworks. The City is now in the process of developing the Allen Park Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan, which will determine future decisions made in the park based on public engagement and the findings of the Allen Park Cultural Landscape Report (CLR), which documents the site’s history and cultural importance. Until the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan is completed, the City will use the CLR to guide management and operations at the Park. What we know for sure is that the park will remain open as a public pedestrian park that celebrates the unique ecology and Emigration Creek that runs through the park. Recommendations for future programming and capital improvements to the site and structures will be made in the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan. As part of the Parks, Trails, and Open Space General Obligation Bond approved by City voters in November 2022, $4.5 million is allocated for improvements at Allen Park. We are currently gathering public input for the future of the site and would love your thoughts! Visit our community engagement page here to participate.
  • Some of the structures are falling down. What is going to happen to the Allen House and other buildings?
    Allen Park’s houses and other buildings are in generally poor condition and are fenced off from public access for safety reasons. Technical and cultural assessments, along with public input conducted as part of the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan process, will help determine if and how the Park’s buildings can be renovated and used. The future of each structure will be based on its physical condition and ability to be repaired, its cultural contribution, the financial investment required, the public’s priorities, and the programming identified for the site. The reuse and management planning process continues through the end of 2023, after which the plan will be considered for implementation by the Mayor and City Council. In the meantime, urgent property repairs may occur to high-priority structures such as the main Allen Lodge, and the others will remain in place if they do not pose a safety risk to park visitors. A damaged wooden bridge across Emigration Creek was removed in May 2023 by flood-control crews to prevent it from collapsing into the high water and damming the stream.
  • What will happen with the temporary fencing?
    After purchasing the property, Public Lands installed chain-link fencing along Allen Park Drive as a safety measure to prevent public access to the Park’s many buildings, all of which are in a poor state of repair. It is the City’s intent to eventually remove this chain-link fencing. As part of the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan, the planning team will look at opportunities to open more of the park’s landscape and will assess potential access to some of the structures. Any permanent fencing will be designed in a way that is sensitive to the natural and cultural elements of the park.
  • Will the peacocks remain at Allen Park?
    The Friends of Allen Park, one of the City’s recognized community organizations, has been stewarding and caring for the peafowl in Allen Park since the City acquired the property in 2020. While not a native species, peafowl have lived at Allen Park for decades. Throughout the planning process for the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan, the planning team will assess and recommend potential management strategies for the peafowl and wildlife within the park. This will include researching and identifying best practices for managing peafowl in the context of other wildlife and park visitors. The peafowl and other wildlife are unique features of the park and will be considered throughout the public engagement and planning processes.
  • Why is Allen Park worth saving?
    Allen Park is a treasured, one-of-a-kind, culturally rich, and environmentally important landscape along the banks of Emigration Creek. One of the last remaining largely undeveloped parcels in the Sugar House area, Salt Lake City acquired Allen Park in March 2020 to prevent its development and create a publicly accessible park. The City’s reasons for purchasing the property include the following: ​ Save one of the large parcels of open space left on the east side of the City; Preserve important City history and Allen Park as a cultural resource; Protect and enhance the Emigration Creek riparian corridor; Improve the creek’s floodplain to better control water flow; Preserve the potential to connect trails through Allen Park; and Create a new park with active community use. Allen Park was created by Dr. George Allen, his wife, Ruth Allen, their family members, and local folk artists, largely between 1931, when the Allens moved to the site and Dr. Allen’s death in 1961. Dr. Allen was also known for his eclectic interests, ranging from creating mosaic poetry to collecting and caring for exotic birds. He helped launch Salt Lake City’s Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary. Allen family members and renters in the property’s duplexes continued living at Allen Park until 2018, when the land was sold for development. Salt Lake City then bought the property in 2020 with the intent of creating a public park. The cultural importance of Allen Park is documented in the Cultural Landscape Report (CLR), published in 2022.
  • Dogs currently aren't allowed at Allen Park. Will that change?
    Dogs are not allowed in Allen Park and that won’t change during the current planning process. Identifying the site’s needs and balancing varied public interests is part of the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan process. The final Plan will outline appropriate strategies to support the recommended future use and activities in the Park. Members of the public are encouraged to share their thoughts about parking, access, and other issues on the project website’s Community Engagement page and at public meetings.
  • How will improvements be paid for?
    The Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan will make recommendations for potential capital improvements and future programming at Allen Park. Thanks to voter support of the $85 million Citywide Parks, Trails, and Open Space General Obligation Bond approved in November 2022, $4.5 million is available for capital improvements at Allen Park. The current planning and public engagement process will result in recommendations for potential improvements to the City’s Public Lands Department, Mayor, and City Council. It is likely that $4.5 million will not be adequate to complete all recommended improvements to the park, so the Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan will also outline strategies for future funding.
  • Will parking be added to Allen Park?
    No public parking is available at Allen Park, and there are no plans to add parking during the planning period. The Adaptive Reuse and Management Plan will identify parking needs and possible strategies for future uses considered as part of the planning process. Parking and access are important issues for the future of the Park, and members of the public are encouraged to share their thoughts on the project website’s Community Engagement page and at public meetings. The final Plan will identify appropriate parking strategies to support the recommended future use and activities in the Park.
  • Why do some people refer to Allen Park as "Hobbitville?"
    Allen Park’s history and activities have always attracted curiosity and bemusement. During Dr. Allen’s life, the former farmland took the form of a charming sanctuary for both birds and people, with trees, shrubs, nooks, benches, poetic mosaics, fountains, and nesting boxes. At one point, you could find an elephant, chimp, reindeer, raccoon, coyote, and a sandhill crane named Sandy. The Allens opened the Park on Sundays for visitors to enjoy. During the 1940s, the Allens added more than a dozen duplexes to help financially sustain the Park. Over the years, students, professors, artists, and “free spirits” lived in the wonderment of Allen Park. In the several decades after Dr. Allen’s death in 1961, the Park slowly became neglected and overgrown, eventually giving rise to a myth that the forested enclave with a hodgepodge collection of houses along Emigration Creek was inhabited by “hobbits.” For years, teenage thrill-seekers periodically gathered at the entrance to “Hobbitville” at night and dared each other to see how far they could venture down Allen Park Drive before turning back. The Allen family reportedly did not like the term “Hobbitville,” and it is not an official or unofficial term used by the city park system.
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