After 30 years, Seven Peaks Water Park is no more but that does not mean there won’t be a working water park on east Center Street in Provo.
On Wednesday, it was announced the park, now under new ownership, will be rebranded as Splash Summit Water Park. Residents should expect to see new signage go up in the next month or so.
The 17-acre water park will still feature 15 water slides, a 500,000 gallon wave pool and eateries. Among the other changes will be the water park’s logo, tagline and website URL, https://splashsummit.com.
The transaction gives renewed impetus to the water park’s plans for future growth and provides the company with the resources to make further improvements, according to Nick Strong, Splash Summit’s spokesman. “The management team is all local and has good water park experience.”
Strong said last year was kind of a first phase with the massive upgrades, this year is phase two.
“In 2019, Seven Peaks refurbished the slides, added new features to the kiddie area, increased water temperature and made other much-needed improvements within the park,” Strong said. “These improvements have paved the way for an enhanced guest experience at this iconic water park and we will continue to improve guest experience in 2020 and beyond.”
Those upgrades include restaurant and dessert options and, by customer request, Strong said they are bringing pizza back to the park.
According to Strong, Splash Summit is committed to creating a safe and fun environment for Utah families. “We want it to be a good community experience.”
Strong said the water park still intends to contribute to the community through its elementary school reading programs.
“The new identity builds upon the history of the park while it also opens doors to the future,” Strong said. “Splash Summit will focus on the water park and making it a heightened experience. We are now changing the small things.”
Splash Summit Waterpark is slated to open Saturday, May 23, at 10 a.m. on Memorial Day weekend.
Splash Summit will offer the public the new Summit Season Pass for $39.99. It will no longer participate in the Pass of All Passes program. For more information on pricing, visit the Splash Summit website.
Strong said that any Pass of All Passes holders may call Splash Summit Waterpark before April 1 to receive an exclusive promotion on a new Summit Season Pass.
While excitement is building at the water park for the new branding and opening, the history of the water park has been a long bumpy road.
Victor and Suzanne Borcherds opened the Seven Peaks Waterpark 30 years ago. Since that time, it has gone through a handful of owners and financial setbacks.
In April 2018, Parkprovo, LLC, which owned the Seven Peaks Water Park in Provo, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court District of Utah. The park remained closed that summer.
Last year, a new management company, Blue Island Resort took over and the park and opened for the 2019 season. It tried to up its game with special entertainment venues including animal acts and more.
Blue Island put about $1 million worth of repairs and upgrades into the park, including: new boiler systems and water pumps. The slides were also upgraded and refinished.
Since then, the park was sold to a group of unnamed investors but the same management team has been retained to run the day-to-day operations.
A 1,000-acre public park and nature preserve along the Utah Lake shoreline between Provo, Orem and Vineyard will soon be a reality.
Once an area in which Ute Indian Chief Colorow Ignacio Ouray Walkara brought his tribe for hunting and fishing, now will allow families to enjoy some of the same recreational experiences.
What is Walkara?
The Walkara Way Project, in the area commonly known at the Powell Slough, is the joint effort of more than 25 government groups, civic groups and private landowners. It is intended to provide an active transportation corridor between Vineyard, Orem and Provo.
“The project will further restoration of habitat for Ospreys, bald eagles and waterfowl species and provide additional public recreation amenities at Utah Lake,” said Eric Ellis, executive director of the Utah Lake Commission.
Doug Robins, assistant director of the Provo Parks and Recreation department, said the park project is a long time in the making and a great addition to outdoor recreation opportunities.
“This is great news,” Robins said. “From the Provo end the trail will cross the boundary on the north side of the Provo Delta Project and will connect with the Provo River trail. It will be terrific.”
Robins added that when trails become highly developed they are an asset to the community.
“We’re sure excited to be a part of it,” Robins said. “We’ll want to make our (Provo’s) connection to the trail.”
The project has plans to include: community fishing opportunities, 2.8 miles of trail that will span the Provo river Delta Restoration Project, bird towers for viewing bald eagles and other birds, picnic facilities, and more.
“The trail through the Walkara Way project will connect regional trail systems and will tie three counties together: Utah County, Salt Lake County and Weber County,” Ellis said. “Once it is connected to the completed Provo River Trail it could one day reach into Wasatch County as well (via the Jordan River trail).”
There are 27 public access points around Utah Lake for camping, boating, hunting, fishing and other water sports. Projects to restore and improve the lake as a public resource are moving forward every year, according to Ellis.
“We think the public will love what this project has to offer,” Ellis said. “In addition to making more land around the lake publicly accessible, it will benefit the habitat and wildlife and provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation and leisure.”
Ellis said the Plough Slough is currently inundated with prickly, weed-like Russian Elm trees, which will be removed. The cottonwood trees will stay and new trees will be planted.
The Holdaway factor
The one person who may know more about the land itself and the project than any other is Jake Holdaway, a fifth generation Holdaway whose family has owned much of the land Chief Walkara claimed.
“This all started when I read a Daily Herald article about problems on the lake shore,” Holdaway said. “I thought I may be the only one to help this problem.”
Holdaway said he is the last farmer in the area and knows where all the water is. The irrigation ditches and canals his grandfathers made are not maintained.
“Utah Lake is not a lake, it is a controlled reservoir,” Holdaway said. “It creates wetlands. These canals were well maintained for 100 years. In 2002 the last of the farms stopped taking water rights and there was no incentive to clean the canals.”
With no care or maintenance, Holdaway said it allowed for overgrowth to happen and the area is now covered with phragmites — long reed-like noxious weeds that get to be 20 feet tall.
As part of the agreements, Holdaway and his family will be allowed to have cattle grazing rights in perpetuity. The cows are most effective in keeping the weeds down. Right now, taxpayers are paying to have the weeds sprayed with weed killer and mowed.
The Walkara area holds very little development potential: It has a diversity of wetland, riparian and lowland habitat crisscrossed with natural streams and ponds, Ellis said.
Holdaway added, “This is going to be a place where residents can come and enjoy the land, save money and be educated on the ecosystem.”
Holdaway is planning on building an education center where school children can come and experience the park, trails and natural wildlife.
Financing the project
The group is asking the legislature for a one-time appropriation of $5.6 million to get a number of projects on the parkland completed.
“This project will provide a critical 2.8-mile section of the trail along one of the prettiest wetlands and historic farming areas on Utah Lake,” Ellis said. “The segment will tie the Vineyard portion of the Lakeshore Trail with the Orem City Community Trail and then to the Orem UTA FrontRunner Station.”
Ellis added, “It will connect with the new pedestrian overpass at Utah Valley University and will provide relief in local commuter vehicular traffic to UVU.”
About $700,000 will provide adequate parking and restroom facilities at both ends of the new trail. Signage for easy route finding as well as informational historical markers will be installed.
To help provide a phragmites cattle control fencing system, $400,000 will be set aside. There will be a non-motorized access point while safely allowing the implementation of cattle grazing as the sustainable vegetation management tool, Ellis said.
About 3.6 miles of an 8-foot wildlife divider fence will be placed between neighborhoods and the Walkara Way Park. There will also be 4.9 miles of 4-foot box and barb wire fencing to divide grazing sections and create a western park fence protecting the lakeshore.
About $50,000 will be used for gates for entrance points, maintenance and pedestrian beach access points, cattle guards and cattle loading area.
A management facility will be built for about $250,000 with the goal of getting students into the outdoors. It will have staging areas for K-12 field trips, as well as storage barns and basic facilities for maintenance and machinery.
A 3- to 5-acre community fishing pond will also be built for $1.4 million. It will be managed by a partnership between the Utah Division of Wildlife Services and Orem. The pond will interface with both the Walkara Way Open Space Regional Park and a future Orem City Multisport Park Complex.
A nonprofit organization headed by the Holdaway family will manage the grazing plan on the park project. The operation will be self-sufficient from a financial standpoint, according to Holdaway. Utah County will manage the care and maintenance of the trail and its facilities using an interlocal agreement between itself and the neighboring municipalities.
“When completed, this will have the longest bike path west of the Mississippi,” Holdaway said. “This is a big project in the center of the county.”
Holdaway said it is about 10 times the size of Sleepy Ridge Golf Course. The course is adjacent to part of the project.
“We’ve been holding this close to the chest. It’s a no-brainer,” Holdaway said. “It has been really well thought out.”
Those interested in learning more about the Walkara Way Project should join the Walkara Way Conservation Project group on Facebook. Otherwise, contact the Utah Lake Commission at http://mputahlakecommission.org.
Updates on the project are expected to be released by the Utah Lake Commission every three to six months.
Brigham Young University University Police arrested a 19-year-old student after he reportedly utilized underground tunnels to break into a campus building to steal food.
Spencer Taylor was arrested and booked into the Utah County Jail on Tuesday for the third-degree felony of burglary.
On Sunday, an employee at the BYU Culinary Support Center was startled when he ran into a man wearing a black mask and clothing, according to a police report. The building had been locked at the time.
Taylor reportedly ran away when the employee asked who he was. Officers later arrived and determined that Taylor had accessed the building through an underground tunnel system.
Camera footage showed Taylor holding food in his hand as he returned to the tunnels, according to the police report. He was also reportedly spotted on camera entering one of the Heritage Halls student housing buildings.
Taylor was identified by his card access into the residential building, according to the police report. Police contacted him on Tuesday, when he reportedly told them he was the man who was in the Culinary Support Center on Sunday.
He allegedly said that within the last month he has accessed the underground tunnel system three times and went to the Culinary Support Center on two of those occasions to steal food.
The report did not disclose how much food Taylor reportedly stole, or its worth.
Brigham Young University has updated its honor code, appearing to eliminate specific language regarding homosexual behavior and relationships.
“The updated Honor Code continues to be a principle-based code that reflects the moral standards of the Church,” an announcement from the university reads. “It allows each campus to support and guide its students on an individual basis according to the principles outlined in the Honor Code.”
The code, which was approved on Feb. 12, according to the university’s website, is a greatly condensed version than its previous version, with separate links to honor code-related policies.
Students at the university, which is owned and run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, agree to abide by BYU’s honor code in order to attend.
The previous code banned actions such as the consumption of alcohol, premarital sex, beards, being in the bedroom of someone of the opposite sex and homosexual behavior, including sexual relations and “all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”
In new Church Educational System Honor Code-related Policies that expound on the new abbreviated version, it states, “Students must abstain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal substances and from the intentional misuse or abuse of any substance. Sexual misconduct; obscene or indecent conduct or expressions; disorderly or disruptive conduct; participation in gambling activities; involvement with pornographic, erotic, indecent, or offensive material; and any other conduct or action inconsistent with the principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Honor Code is not permitted.”
The abbreviated version of the code lists requirements as the following:
Live a chase and virtuous life, including abstaining from any sexual relations outside a marriage between a man and a woman.
Respect others, including the avoidance of profane and vulgar language.
Obey the law and follow campus policies.
Abstain from alcoholic beverages, tobacco, tea, coffee, vaping, and substance abuse.
Participate regularly in Church services (required only of Church members).
Observe Brigham Young University’s dress and grooming standards.
Encourage others in their commitment to comply with the Honor Code.
As some students and alumni celebrated the changes on social media, statements made from the university’s accounts hours after the announcement hinted that a ban on homosexual behavior may still be in place.
“In speaking with Honor Code Director Kevin Utt this afternoon, we’ve learned that there may have been some miscommunication as to what the Honor Code changes mean,” a tweet from the university reads. “Even though we have removed the more prescriptive language, the principles of the Honor Code remain the same. The Honor Code will handle questions that arise on a case by case basis. For example, since dating means different things to different people, the Honor Code Office will work with individual people.”
The changes come after students protested last spring for changes to the code and how it is enforced. Since then, BYU has released a handful of incremental changes, with the most recent update posted about two weeks before the start of the academic year.
Changes have surrounded the Honor Code Office, including a new software that allows students to know what they’re being called in for before their first appointment, banning anonymous reporting in cases where safety isn’t a concern and changing the title of Honor Code Office employees from counselors to administrators.
“We are grateful to BYU and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the changes made this morning to the CES Honor Code policy,” reads a statement released on Wednesday from Restore Honor BYU, a group of students aiming to make changes to the policy and how it’s enforced. “One of the biggest concerns students have voiced has been the unequal treatment of homosexual students, and this removal of the homosexual behavior clause and the update to living a chaste and virtuous life shows that the administration is listening to it’s students. This clarification that there is no difference between homosexual and heterosexual students in how sexual misconduct is treated is critical to ensuring safety and equality for homosexual students at BYU. This change has been one of our goals from the beginning and we are grateful for everyone’s support.”
Restore Honor BYU said it celebrates the simplification of the code.
“We have always sought a campus policy that is in line with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and believe that this brings those two much closer together,” another statement from the group reads.
The organization said the updated code has been its goal from the beginning of its movement, and thanked those who have had conversations about the policies.
“We have worked nonstop on your behalf, and we promise we will continue to work with BYU Administration to figure out how these policies will apply to current and future students,” the statement reads.
The policy explanation of the honor code still includes the school’s historic ban on beards for male students.
The code, which applies to all universities owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was updated to be in alignment with the church’s updated general handbook, which was publicly released Wednesday, according to an announcement from the university.
The Daily Herald has reached out to BYU and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for additional comment.
A Florida couple that moved across the country to found an independently-owned, men-oriented wedding band company is looking to expand operations. The expansion would allow them to hire more Utah County residents and include women’s rings and bands.
Throughout the entirety of the company’s life, the couple has remained involved and united, offering aspiring entrepreneurs advice on how to get through the hard times when a business and a marriage are on the line. The pair discovered the need for more men-centered wedding band options while preparing for their own happily ever after.
“When it was my turn, there were four or five different options, and they were all way too much money, and there really wasn’t anything I could connect with,” co-founder Johnathan Ruggiero said.
Within 30 days, the couple tied the knot, moved across the country and started a business — Manly Bands. After two years in Florida operating their new business out of a garage, Ruggiero and his wife, Michelle Luchese, were ready for a change.
The couple set off in search of new scenery, permanently parking in Utah County and making a home and a company based out of their Class A RV. Ruggiero and Luchese chose Utah because of great pricing, kind people, and a booming entrepreneurial scene. The couple said they stumbled upon the wedding capital of the world by making the move.
The company currently calls Vineyard home with a dozen employees based locally and 24 employees overall. Since it was founded in 2016, the company has grown by leaps and bounds, selling tens-of-thousands of rings with over eight figures in year-to-date sales.
About 50% of the company’s inventory is sourced and manufactured in Utah County, although the remainder of the products and materials are found internationally.
Ruggiero said the extreme change furthered their relationship as newlyweds and business partners. Overall, however, their secret to running a successful business and maintaining their marriage is ultimately giving each other space.
“We have different personalities, obviously, and we love being together, but sometimes you need your space,” Ruggiero said. “We work together, 24/7, so it’s important that we’re able to do the things that fulfill us even if it’s separate from each other.”
In terms of work, Ruggiero and Luchese both fulfill the role of chief executive officer for the company, but oversee different aspects of Manly Bands’ operations. The couple is trying to bring that unique business dynamic to their customers’ experiences.
Starting from the beginning, Manly Bands hoped to set themselves apart by matching the ring to the person, not the person to the ring. The company currently has over 250 different styles with several material combinations available.
Now, the company is looking to expand its operations and number of employees, with plans to hire at least nine more people in Utah already underway. In the near future, Manly Bands is hoping to launch a sister company that oversees women’s rings with the same one-of-a-kind promise.
Ruggiero also said the company is looking to become more involved in the surrounding communities. From sponsoring sports teams to volunteer events, Ruggiero and Luchese said it’s important for them to give back to the community that not only welcomed them years ago but continues to support them.
With the company’s exponential growth and success, Manly Bands announced Tuesday that the company has appointed Provo native Marshall Smith as its new president. As president, Smith is responsible for developing the company’s domestic and international online and offline expansions, according to a press release from the company.
“As Manly Bands continues to grow our presence in Utah County, we’re very excited to welcome Marshall Smith to our team,” Ruggiero said. “At Manly Bands, Marshall is joining us as president and will be overseeing our amazing team and helping us continue to grow in Utah and beyond.”
A Utah native, Smith has led the operations of several companies based in the state over the past 20 years. Most recently, he was the former chief operating officer of Taft Clothing, a luxury commerce show retailer, which increased its revenue by tens-of-millions of dollars in the past five years.
With Smith’s leadership, the company expects to continue to grow rapidly in 2020 as well as expand product lines and grow Manly Bands’ international presence. Ruggiero said the company is currently on track to double their business in 2020.
A former high school teacher charged with shooting a woman who was dating her ex-husband pleaded guilty to all seven charges in 3rd District Court on Friday.
According to court documents, 33-year-old Chelsea Watrous Cook was charged with three first-degree felony charges for aggravated murder, aggravated burglary and felony discharge of a firearm along with a slew of other charges.
Cook had been teaching health and yoga classes at Skyridge High School in Lehi at the time of her arrest. She had been employed with the Alpine School District for four years and had previously worked at Lehi High School.
The charges stem from an incident that occurred on Nov. 25, 2018, involving Cook. Cook’s ex-husband was home with his girlfriend, Lisa Vilate Williams, and the Cooks’ twin 3-year-old children, according to court documents.
Cook reportedly lured her ex-husband out of his apartment to pick up cold medicine she told him she would be dropping off for one of their children. When Cook’s ex-husband returned to the apartment, unable to find her, he saw Cook, Williams and their children sitting in the living room. Cook’s ex-husband asked her to leave several times, but she refused.
Cook’s ex-husband picked up the phone to call authorities as she walked into the bathroom and locked the door. Seconds later, Cook exited the bathroom and went for her coat when her ex-husband heard three gunshots from behind him.
Cook’s ex-husband saw her pointing a gun at Williams, and grabbed the gun from Cook before she sat down with her two children, who were present in the room during the shooting, according to court documents.
Responding officers with the Salt Lake City Police Department obtained surveillance footage that reportedly shows Cook enter the hallway where her ex-husband’s apartment is located before stopping, taking out her phone and texting. Cook entered the apartment without knocking once her ex-husband had exited the apartment to retrieve the medicine and was out of sight.
A second shot went through Williams’ right hip before exiting through her back. The final shot entered and exited through her thigh.
Williams was decorating the family’s Christmas tree with the two children using handmade decorations that had been made earlier that day before the shooting.
Cook had previous domestic violence and domestic violence before a child charges out of Herriman Justice Court at the time of her arrest.
She appeared before Third District Judge Douglas Hogan on Friday morning in West Jordan where she waived her right to a preliminary hearing before pleading guilty to all three first-degree felony charges as well as second- and third-degree felony charges for felony discharge of a firearm and two class B misdemeanor charges for committing a violent offense in the presence of a child.
Her sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 18 in West Jordan.
After a jury found a former Provo restaurant owner guilty of pretending to be a doctor and sexually abusing women late last year, a district judge in American Fork handed down his sentencing Tuesday afternoon.
Borzin Mottaghian, 35, was initially charged with 14 first-degree felonies of object rape and attempted object rape, two second-degree felonies of forcible sexual abuse and one third-degree felony of attempted forcible sexual abuse in 2017.
Last December, Mottaghian was found guilty of two first-degree felony counts of object rape, two second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse, two class A misdemeanor counts of sexual battery and two class B misdemeanor counts of attempted sexual battery. The jury deliberated on its decision for less than four hours after a four-day trial.
For each of the first-degree felony charges of object rape, Mottaghian received five years to life in prison, also receiving one to 15 years for each of the second-degree felony counts of forcible sexual abuse. Lunnen also required Mottaghian to serve one year for each class A misdemeanor charge of sexual battery and six months for each class B misdemeanor count of attempted sexual battery.
While the first-degree felony charges are set to run concurrent to each other, all remaining sentences are required to run consecutively to each other.
Mottaghian was locally known as the owner of two restaurants in downtown Provo, including Cafe on Fire and Cocoa & Coffee Co. Both locations were closed before the trial began.
According to court documents, Mottaghian posted Craigslist ads offering to pay women $200 for their help in developing “a new ‘medical device,’” posing as a medical examiner conducting anatomy research. Police reported he does not have any medical certification.
Two women met with Mottaghian separately after seeing the ad. Mottaghian told one woman that he was a doctor developing a “surgical catheter” and another that he was developing a new feminine hygiene product.
Mottaghian had each woman sign nondisclosure forms before having them undress and sexually abusing them under the pretense of an examination. According to court documents, both women, who did not know each other, separately reported the incident to police after having concerns that they had been deceived.
Officials had an undercover female officer also respond to the ad about a month later. During the appointment, Mottaghian told the detective he was a doctor concluding medical research and what the examination would include. Before the examination could begin, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office entered with a search warrant and arrested Mottaghian on Oct. 7, 2017, according to court documents.
The sentencing hearing was postponed once before all parties met in the Fourth District courtroom before Judge Robert Lunnen. Cara Tangaro and Scott Williams, representing Mottaghian, filed for a motion to continue sentencing, addressing potential mistakes within the sentencing agreement as well as the potential for the prosecution to present recorded jail phone calls.
Lunnen made the decision to move forward with the sentencing but decided he will not hearing any additional evidence regarding jail phone calls or recordings, and an amended sentencing agreement was presented to the court before the hearing continued.
Both victims were allowed to give statements before the sentencing was handed down. Williams also read a written statement by Mottaghian.
Before the official sentencing, the prosecution asked the court to allow Mottaghian’s terms to run consecutively with no credit for time previously served while in the custody of the Utah County Jail. Lunnen ultimately denied this request following further conversation, ordering that Mottaghian be granted credit for time already served.
Mottaghian was remanded to the custody of the Utah State Prison where he will serve the rest of his time.
Students could complete future snow makeup days online, according to one option being considered at the Alpine School District.
Julie King, a member of the Alpine School District Board of Education, proposed during a school board meeting Tuesday that the district could look to online options for makeup days.
“I think it is a conversation we should have,” King said during the meeting.
The Alpine, Nebo and Provo school districts declared Feb. 3 a snow day, citing student safety as a storm moved through the valley that morning.
Students in the Alpine School District will make up the snow day on April 6, which is the first day of spring break.
The Alpine School District created a policy late last year that allows its superintendent to declare weather-related school closures, early releases and early outs. Mondays, like the day of the snow day, only have the option of a school closure due to Mondays already being shortened days for students.
April 6 was previously designated as a potential make up day on the calendar.
A blended learning model that combined online and optional, in-person learning was used last fall at Lake Mountain Middle School in Saratoga Springs while the school was being completed.
The idea of an online makeup day has been discussed in a district leadership meeting in the time since the board of education last met on Tuesday, according to Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for the Alpine School District.
“I don’t think the idea of blended learning for snow makeup days if off the table,” Bird said. “It is something we really want to look into.”
The idea, she said, is still in the study phase. Bird said it would take a lot of implementation to put a potential hybrid makeup day into place before the April 6 makeup day. The district would also have to consider how it would be implemented at the different grade levels.
King also voiced concern in the meeting about the 170 unfilled requests for substitute teachers on the makeup day.
Bird said the district is aware of the unfilled positions, but doesn’t foresee it as a problem in the district of about 4,500 teachers.
“We recognize that snow makeup days, they have a pattern of minimal attendance,” Bird said.
She said that schools could combine classes to help manage a potential teacher shortage on the makeup day.
Bird also said that parents have the option of calling their children’s schools to excuse their students on that day if they want to keep their children home or have vacation plans.
On Tuesday, the Provo Municipal Council approved a land use amendment to allow ancillary breweries in restaurants in two downtown zones, and in the regional shopping center zones. That decision is now being challenged.
Former councilman and mayor, George Stewart, and other former council members and city leaders filed a referendum on Thursday looking to put the issue of brewpubs in Provo to the voters on the November ballot.
Joining Stewart are Kim Santiago, Kay Van Buren, Paul Warner, Cindy Richards, Steven A. Christiansen, Dave Acheson, Dave Knecht and Sherrie L. Spencer.
Santiago, a nurse, is concerned for many reasons about the approval of the ancillary breweries. She said that in every ordinance placed on the dais, there are the wherefores and whereas clauses. The last whereas clause says, “this will further the health, safety and welfare of the city of Provo.”
“If you can’t say that you shouldn’t vote for it,” Santiago said. “It does the opposite. It makes beer a fad and trendy. As a Christian community, do we want to welcome that into our community?”
Santiago noted that during the community open mic session at the council meeting, there was plenty of talk about cultivating more diversity in the city and that a brewpub would contribute to that.
“Why can’t we just embrace the city we are,” Santiago said. “There is a lot of talk about diversity. I argue we are more diverse by being ourselves, and not like every other city in America.”
Former Mayor and Councilman George Stewart said it was because of comments made by council Chairman George Handley on Tuesday that inspired him to move forward with the referendum.
Handley gave the pros and cons of having the land use amendment and even noted that, prior to the meeting, he was more likely to vote in favor of it. After hearing much of the comments and thinking more about it, Handley voted against the measure.
“I’m not in favor of anything that enhances the cache that says it’s cool to drink craft beer,” Stewart said. “Alcohol is evil because it causes bad health. In my mind, I can’t see how it makes the city more healthy.”
Councilman Travis Hoban, new to the council and in favor of the amendment, was a bit surprised at the referendum submission but said it is the people’s prerogative.
“The people of Provo have the right to do that,” Hoban said. “I don’t know what else to say, that’s democracy.”
The state Legislature has recently made it more difficult to gather signatures.
As of Jan. 1, those seeking petition for referendum must have 15% of the registered voters from four of the five voting districts in Provo. In addition, signature gatherers must have 15% of the registered voters in the city, overall.
There are 41,346 registered voters in Provo. They will need 6,202 verified registered voter’s signatures for the referendum to be place on the November ballot.
According to Stewart, that will not be an easy task. The clock has started ticking on the process. The city now has 20 days to vet the referendum for budgeting purposes and for legal analysis. It will also need to have time to organize petition packets.
The petitioners will then have 45 days to gather the signatures.
It is not clear if the mayor would have the right to veto the referendum as it is considered a legislative issue, not an administrative one.
“What this does do is stops the process cold on the land use change,” said Wayne Parker, chief administrative officer.
Parker noted the city already had put an addendum to the amendment that offered a sunrise clause, meaning the land use change doesn’t go into effect until the city develops a new beer license or amends a current one. The city does not have an ancillary brewery license.
Stewart said he doesn’t think he will be able to get the signatures needed with just volunteers and is prepared to hire professionals to gather signatures.