Millcreek’s mayor praises civic engagement, vows to fight for policeMar 08, 2023 11:48AM ● By Zak Sonntag
Mayor Jeff Silvestrini during his annual State of the City address. (Screenshot)
Millcreek is making strides on infrastructure, homelessness, and fighting for Unified Police Department, said Mayor Jeff Silvestrini during his annual State of the City address in February.
Addressing a live audience at Millcreek City Hall, Silvestrini said he was proud of his administration and impressed by the community’s civic involvement.
“Given everything that’s happen to our city, especially this last year, the word for our city is that Millcreek is ‘engaged,’” he said, in an address infused with anecdotes of civic behavior.
The mayor’s voice cracked with emotion when he shared the story of Canyon Rim resident named Jason, who came to the aid of an unsheltered person discovered “freezing to death” on his front lawn.
“So (Jason) asked him to come into his house to get warm,” and “before giving the man a ride downtown to a resource center…he took him up to REI and bought him a pair of winter boots. And that’s the kind of community we have and that what makes it so special,” Silvestrini said.
The mayor stood firmly behind the city’s agreement to provide an overflow shelter for unhoused persons at the former Calvin S. Smith Library.
“I’m committed…to make sure that Salt Lake City and Millcreek don’t become like some of the other unfortunate cities around the country that have unsheltered folks everywhere, all over the street,” he said.
“Our willingness to open up a temporary overflow shelter is helping to address that problem,” he said.
The overflow shelter had been met with resistance from community members who worried unsheltered populations may put the neighborhood in a “high risk situation.”
The mayor coordinated additional police resources for the shelter to allay concerns in surrounding District 2 neighborhoods.
Yet some residents have criticized the police presence, saying it’s created an intimidating atmosphere and may have a chilling effect on participation.
Silvestrini in his State of the City address pushed back against those complaints and said he’d received feedback showing that continual “police presence had made (unsheltered participants) feel safe.”
Silvestrini reiterated his administration’s commitment to staying with Unified Police Department (UPD), a regional entity currently under threat by state legislators seeking to dissolve the county service by 2025.
Even as the bill, HB 374, has gained momentum and looks likely to pass, Silvestrini said, “I really believe that our community receives the benefits of economies of scale by sharing police officers with other communities.”
“(Through UPD) we have the resources of the second largest police department in the state that can come when we need them,” he said, offering the example a hostage crisis in 2022 when Millcreek marshaled UPD’s special unit resources.
“You can be sure that Millcreek is a UPD city and will remain so as long as I have anything to say about it.”
Silvestrini touted his administration’s active collaboration with neighboring cities, legislators and even federal delegations, which he said has brought benefits to the city.
As examples he highlighted added firefighting facilities and improvements to the trailhead at Neffs Canyon; he also pointed to federal wilderness boundary adjustments which enables trail restoration on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
On the westside, Millcreek’s portion of the Jordan River Trail is seeing improvements—with added pavilions and bathrooms, and work being done on a connecting bridge to the city of Taylorsville, along with a pending application for a boat ramp, the mayor said.
Silvestrini, who serves on the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said intergovernmental collaboration has helped the city improve infrastructure, including major overhauls of portions of its three largest thoroughfares—3900 South, Highland Drive and 2000 East—along with new sidewalks and a roundabout.
He touted the popularity of Millcreek Commons, a mixed-use development on a 6-acre area off 1300 East and 3300 South coming to fruition with the support of his administration.
Though still in progress, the Common’s multi-season skate loop was a big hit with residents—evidenced by impressive revenues during the winter months.
Between December 2022 and January 2023, the Commons generated close to $287,000 in ice-time fees and skate rentals, according to figures cited by the mayor.
“Millcreek Common has been wildly successful,” he said. “What we’ve said all along is we built this as a community gathering place. And it’s working.”
Silvestrini said he’s moving the city toward environmental sustainability with a tentative date of 2030 for the city using fully renewable sources through participation in initiatives like the Community Renewable Energy Program.
He also cited the planned installation of solar panels on the new city government offices under construction at Millcreek Commons, which will be funded by a grant from Rocky Mountain Power; EV charging stations are blueprinted for later phases of the Common’s development, he said.
He explained the city is also helping with conservation efforts by facilitating subsidies to private property owners who want to replace grass turf with water-wise landscaping.
The mayor said the city’s participation in the Promise after-school program has made a difference in the lives of 20 children.
“Helping the less fortunate, we saw a need at the Holladay Hills apartment building, and we were able to start an after-school program.
“It means they have a place to go after school to get additional help…and ultimately that will pay benefits to Millcreek residents and our state by keeping these kids productive and making sure they have an opportunity to graduate from high school and not wind up at places that cost us even more money in the long run,” he said.
Silvestrini sees the City of Millcreek on the rise and attributes its successes to what he describes as a solutions-oriented style of leadership.
“Our goal is to be an entrepreneurial city. We don’t have a ‘way it’s always been done’ in Millcreek,” he said. “We are a culture where we are problem solvers. We are not bureaucrats.”