NORTH SALT LAKE -- Steve Yeiter would have preferred to have a neighborhood barbecue party instead of a news conference.
"The people in this area are good people," said Yeiter, who has lived in his home at the top of Spring Hill Circle since 1986.
His home was the backdrop to a news conference held by North Salt Lake city officials on Thursday to announce a Federal Emergency Management Act Pre-disaster Mitigation Competitive Grant worth almost $1.9 million. The city has to put up a 25 percent match, which will bring the total to more than $2.5 million.
The city will use the funds to buy 11 homes in the area and turn it into the Springhill Geological Park, said Barry Edwards, the city manager.
"We've gone from no hope to hope," Edwards said.
Yeiter's home is one of the 11 on the list to be bought. He plans to pay off his mortgages and invest whatever is left over in property closer to Westminister College, which his grandson attends.
"We used to have great block parties and I would have the barbecue going, but my deck is all, well, you know," Yeiter told officials after the news conference.
Edwards, other city officials, state officials and congressional staff, along with staff from the El Nino Foundation, worked together to apply for the grant, which Edwards described as "competitive."
Homes in the area were built in the late 1970s before geological technical surveys were required and more stringent building codes were in place, said Mayor Ken Arave.
The hillside began moving in 1997. Six homes have been demolished in the past decade, with three homes gone in the last year, Arave said.
The city applied for the funds Dec. 1, 2011, and was told it would be a long shot to receive a dime, Arave said.
"This is the end of 14 years of hell," said Stefanie Christiansen, who moved into her home on Spring Hill Drive in 1997.
When she first heard on Monday that the city had received the grant, "I couldn't believe it. We've been told for so long that no one would help us and we can't sell our home, so it was hard to believe at first."
Christiansen's home, like many in the area, has shifted to the point that doors swing open and shut without any help. The basement is unusable because of the land shifting.
But like others in the area, the idea of moving has caused Christiansen mixed emotions.
"I love the people," she said. "Our neighbors are the best."
Edwards said residents who live in one of the 11 houses designated in the grant have or will receive a letter from the city explaining the process. Residents can sign the attached form, which starts the process of the city buying the home.
The city will have the homes appraised without the landslide calculated in and will then make an offer on the homes. The owners can approve or reject the offer. If they approve the offer, then it goes before the city council for a final approval. After the city and the owners sign a contract, the owners have to leave the property, but are allowed to take such items as cabinets, light fixtures and flooring materials, as the home is going to be demolished.
The city has three years to complete the project.
Edwards said the area will be converted into a geologic park. The city will remove all asphalt, concrete and any utilities that are not buried too deep. Water that currently seeps up in different locations will be diverted to a stream that will end in the city's storm sewer system.
"The hope is that it will stop the hill from moving," Edwards said. "That's the hope."