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For week ended January 16, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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Summarized by Kent Larsen

Gilgal 'Friends' Push City to Buy Garden
Salt Lake Tribune 11Jan00 A4
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Friends of Gilgal Garden may soon see the end of their fight to preserve the folk art sculpture garden. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Salt Lake Mayor Rocky Anderson and a majority of the City Council are also in favor of purchasing the garden for the Salt Lake City Parks system. The garden was created by LDS stonemason Thomas Child and sculptor Maurice Brooks and contains many works bearing LDS quotations and images.

As previously reported on Mormon News (see: Fate of Joseph Smith Sphinx still in doubt Salt Lake City decided last Tuesday to only accept ownership for six months, giving the garden back to the Friends of Gilgal Garden at the end of that time. The Friends have raised most of the money needed to purchase the garden, but donors are requiring that the Friends donate the garden to the City so that it is maintained. If the garden is not purchased, Child's family plans to sell it to developers.

The City Council is worried that the garden will become a drain on future budgets. The maintenance for the garden will cost about $8,000 a year. Councilman Tom Rogan admits this isn't much, but is looking at the City's expected budget crunch. "I know it's just a little bit of money," Rogan says. "But last December, we said the city needs to go on a diet. Now we want to pass on the vegetables and eat the pie. At budget time, it's not going to be fun."

But Councilman Roger Thompson thinks that Gilgal is worth saving, "Although it's religious in nature, Gilgal's artistic merit transcends any messages that are there. This is an appropriate endeavor for the city. If anybody can run parks, we ought to be able to. It just makes a lot of sense for us to take ownership of this property." He has pledged $5,000 to start an endowment fund to take care of the maintenance of the property.

Mayor Anderson has lobbied heavily for the purchase of the garden, changing the minds of several on the Council. Councilwoman Nancy Saxton, explains that sometimes good opportunities just come at bad times, "Wonderful opportunities come to you at the most inopportune times. You have to scramble. But if we don't make a commitment now, we're going to wish we had. Once it's gone, we'll never get it back."

But Council members want a contract drawn up outlining the deal before they agree to the purchase. Fortunately, the Fetzer family, which owns the property, has agreed to give the Friends a three-month extension on their option on the property, which was to expire Wednesday, giving them time to hammer out an agreement with the city, and raise any additional funds needed.


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