The Chronicle’s View: Pharmaceutical encroachment ought to be reconsidered

Recently, the U unveiled plans to erect a 90,000-square-foot, three story pharmaceutical building on 32 acres of natural land just east of Research Park.

The soil on which the foundation for the building is to be laid belongs to some of the last natural land accessible to recreationalists and indigenous wildlife.

Last Wednesday, at the Turpin Building, students and environmentalists voiced their concern over the destruction of the open space. Citing numerous grievances-including the negative visual impact the proposal will have-Utah citizens showed their disapproval for the project.

But this is not the first time the open space east of Research Park has been in jeopardy, and it’s not the first time encroachment proposals have been met by public dissent.

In 1996, the Utah Museum of Natural History and the Hansen Planetarium looked to move into the open space, but received more than 2,000 signatures opposing the development. The museum and planetarium’s plans never took shape.

Eight years later, U officials unveiled plans to expand Research Park into the same natural space, despite numerous objections by the public.

The proposed development is problematic for several reasons.

First, the land acts as a buffer between a developed area populated largely by humans and an undeveloped area populated largely by wildlife. The land is also home to much indigenous foliage. By encroaching on some of the last land available to wildlife, officials can expect negative impacts on the environmental ecosystem.

Second, the proposal will have a serious negative visual impact on the land east of Research Park. While this grievance may seem superficial to some, it would be unwise to assume that the inherent aesthetics of the Salt Lake Valley are not a point of consideration for prospective students and residents. Maiming the beauty of the U’s landscape may have further-reaching consequences than planners think.

Lastly, the pharmaceutical building will effectively divide and destroy the beloved Shoreline Trail above the U.

This trail is widely used by outdoor recreation enthusiasts and wildlife researchers; its demise would be tragic. The Shoreline Trail is one of the last places people can go in order to get away from the city and its chaos.

Although it is unlikely that officials will heed the calls of disenchanted Utahns, they ought to. Such vocal public disapproval should have an impact of executive decisions, especially when the decisions have such a direct impact on public life.