EPA clean up at the Swift Building 09

Grounds of the Swift Building on Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Ogden.

Who deserves praise and criticism this week in Northern Utah?

THUMBS DOWN: The Inland Port is a divisive issue in Salt Lake County and for residents surrounding who might benefit through business. Are there ways to improve the plan and communication? Most definitely. Does it warrant physical harm or violence? Definitely not. Instead of listening to opposing sides and creating an environment for compromise, it instead turned violent this week. This will in no way resolve the complexities that lie ahead. Utah has seen a host of protests for various political and business-based issues. Nonetheless, encouraging the incitement of violence never has and never will bring Utahns to the table in a way that will produce an acceptable result for the majority. Likewise, we encourage fellow newsgatherers in the state to find the least promotional ways of supporting coverage of future or continued violent protests.

THUMBS DOWN: The resurgence of attention on the EPA cleanup at the Swift Building in Ogden came about this week with many residents wondering how a business owner could financially benefit from such an environmental disaster, and yet the taxpayers have to foot the bill. The Standard-Examiner has covered the potential contamination and remediation of the Swift property since at least 2012 when it became eligible for EPA grant funds due to being identified with a possible multitude of contaminations, in addition to five other Ogden sites.

Reported in 2017, the city paid $400,000 for the Swift building, but said that extensive environmental remediation needed to take place before the structure was to be demolished. At that time in 2017, the CED office estimated environmental work associated with the building would cost more than $2 million. The city expected it could demolish the building by spring 2018 and move forward with development plans immediately after. Clearly, looking back now in July 2019, their plans were overly optimistic and naive regarding the extent of environmental remediation that would need to take place on their newly-purchased plot of land.

Would it have been cheaper for the city to not purchase the property and hold out for physical evidence that could be levied against the previous owners to make remediation themselves? Possibly. Does it seem unfair that taxpayers locally and federally are footing the bill for illegal and outright neglectful behavior of previous business owners? Definitely.

However, the worst situation that could have taken place was that the polluted property would continue to sit in decomposition and threaten the safety of the environment, land and water around it moving forward. It is necessary that it is cleaned now; it should have been done decades sooner. The city’s purchase, informed or not, ensures this cleanup with the EPA takes place. If this upsets you as a resident, speak with your city council representative to get more information and express your concerns about this project moving forward and potential future purchases. While we are not knowledgeable as to if there are any avenues available to hold previous occupants accountable, we urge if there are that they are considered.

In the meantime, God bless the workers plugging along to dispose of bottle after bottle of dangerous substance so in the future it can be a safer place in the community.

THUMBS UP: Well, we made it. At least through the Fourth of July holiday without any major fires threatening Northern Utah from illegal or ill-planned firework explosions. As the Pioneer Day holiday approaches, remember you cannot set off fireworks until the two days prior.

THUMBS DOWN: West Nile was detected this week in mosquitoes in southern Utah. It serves as an annual reminder to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants and use proper deterrent when out in nature to avoid contracting the virus.

THUMBS UP: According to The Volcker Alliance’s report, Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting: Preventing the Next Fiscal Crisis, the nonprofit’s second annual study of U.S. state budgeting practices, Utah previously received “a three-year average of C in budget forecasting, passed legislation in 2018 requiring the Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst to prepare long-term budgets for programs appropriated from major funds and tax types.”

The new report continued to elaborate that the 2018 law required stress tests on how revenue and expenditures could be affected in a variety of economic hypotheticals. Utah received a “C” grade in budget forecasting trends for 2018, but will likely trend upwards in coming years’ reports as the state focuses more on long-term budgeting.

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