Fence Around LDS Institute

The Latter-day Saints Institute of Religion will soon become ?a little mini fortress,? according to Paul Checketts, the Institute?s director of facilities management.

Construction workers have already cemented 6-foot metal posts around the buildings located just to the south of the University of Utah. Within the next week, workers will adorn these posts with a chain-link fence topped with razor wire.

?It does look a little bit like a compound, but this is just natural security on a very potentially accessible and problematic site,? Checketts said.

The razor-wire fence is the first of multiple security measures the Institute will implement during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to combat possible vandalism and terrorism.

Orders came from the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints months ago, before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Checketts said.

?But the recent events only validate the decision,? he said.

Institute Director Paul Browning hopes the fence won?t create a big stir, but he worries about the way people will perceive it.

?Anything that makes the Institute look like it is less accessible I am not thrilled about, yet I understand the need for security,? he said.

The Institute sits on South Campus Drive, or what Checketts called ?the central entrance place for Olympic events at the U.?

?Nationally and internationally there have been groups that oppose the Olympics and some that oppose religion,? he said.

Checketts said that vandals have targeted one or two LDS Church buildings per month in the Salt Lake Valley recently, and LDS leaders are worried the Olympics will give vandals an excuse to destroy even more.

Still, the Institute will remain open throughout the Games. Institute faculty, students and visitors will have the option of using the entrances in the north and south parking lots or the entrance facing South Campus Drive until the Games begin. During the Olympics people will only have access to the building through the south parking lot entrance.

A security guard will man the door, but students and visitors may come and go freely, Checketts said.

?This is not reactionary. It is not an anti-terrorist security measure,? he said. ?We are concerned about the public view and the opinion that this may look like a military complex. The fence and all of that will be torn down right after the Games.?

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