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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended July 16, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 11Jul00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Gilgal Now Owned by Salt Lake City, But Not Park Yet
Salt Lake Tribune 10Jul00 A4
By Rebecca Walsh: Salt Lake Tribune

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The status of the Gilgal Garden is finally settled. The non-profit Trust for Public Lands purchased the sculpture garden from the Fetzer family and turned over the title to Salt Lake City on Friday, finally saving the Garden from possible destruction from developers. But several steps remain before it becomes a public park.

The garden is the creation of LDS bishop Thomas Child, a stonemason and sculptor Maurice Brooks, who filled the garden with an eclectic group of sculptures and stoneworks, many of which reflect LDS themes. When Child died in 1963, the garden was purchased by Henry Fetzer, who's children wanted to sell the garden because of the liability and maintenance costs.

The Friends of Gilgal started three years ago, persuading the Fetzer family to not sell the garden to a Canadian real estate company that wanted to build condominiums. Persuading the San Francisco-based Trust for Public Lands to intervene and buy an option on the property, they then started raising the money needed to make the purchase. The LDS Church pledged $100,000, as did the Eccles Foundation. Salt Lake County then pledged $400,000, nearly completing the purchase price.

Now, with the purchase finished, several steps remain to make the garden a public partk. utility bills need to be transferred to the city's name and the gates and sprinkler system need to be checked. The Friends will also need to raise another $600,000 to $800,000 to build a larger entrance, a wrought-iron fence around the property and to restore crumbling stonework.

But the Friends of Gilgal have declared victory, and are taking a bit of a breather. "We're tired," says Friends board member David Sucec. "But we're ready to go on to the next phase. Now that we've saved it, we don't feel the pressure of the deadline." The Friends have signed a curator agreement with the city.

"It's a matter of logistics now," says city deputy attorney Lynn Pace. He and other city attorneys still need to draft a conservation easement to protect the property against future development, and they need to resolve property lines that are still not clear. But Gilgal is expected to open as a city park later this summer.

But as a city park it will remain somewhat unique, not only because of its unique sculptures, but also because of how it will be managed. Because of the sculptures, Gilgal will have shorter hours than most city parks, which are open from dawn until 11 p.m. in the summer, and will have a fence around it.

See also:

Mormon News' coverage of the Gilgal Garden


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