U may still have shot at purchasing cemetery land

The U’s attempt to purchase land from its neighbor, Mount Olivet Cemetery, is still alive if the Salt Lake City Council rejects Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s School’s bid to buy the land. Both the U and Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s put up bids on the land, located just off 1300 East and 800 South, late last year. However, Rowland Hall was willing to offer more money than the U felt the land was worth, Charles Evans, director of Research Park, said.

“We have tried to obtain the land for interim parking for three or four years,” he said. “But they put up much more than we were willing to negotiate with.”

Bill Adams, president of the Mount Olivet Cemetery Board of Trustees, said the cemetery requires consolidation of its financial situation to continue to provide perpetual care for grounds.

“We are in a position were we must obtain funds,” he said. “We did not see raising fees as an option, so we opted to sell a portion of the land.”

Rowland Hall wants the land to build a new middle school and high school.

However, Rowland Hall has recently met opposition from wealthy neighbors, the Salt Lake City Planning Commission and the Open Space Lands Advisory Board.

The planning commission rejected the proposal by a 6-1 vote, while the board gave a disapproving recommendation on the grounds of negative traffic congestion and a desire to preserve land for cemetery use. Despite the rejections, Susan Koles, director of marketing and development for Rowland Hall, is confident that the Salt Lake City Council will still pass the proposal.

“The planning commission gave a negative recommendation, but it is just that, a recommendation,” she said. “The city council can make a choice on (its) own.”

Janice Jardine, secretary for the Salt Lake City Council, was unsure of when the issue would be placed on the council’s agenda but said that for the proposal to be accepted, zoning requirements would have to be changed.

If the city council does not pass the proposal, Bill Adams said Mount Olivet would have to reassess its options and find another buyer. Mark Woodland, assistant vice president for university marketing, said the U could become a potential buyer of the land.

“The U could purchase the land if it became available again at a reasonable price,” he said.

Evans agreed, saying the U would likely explore an acquisition, but noted that, as of now, the U is not currently looking into buying any land.

“Depending on if it becomes available and if Mount Olivet accepts a reasonable price, we would take a look at it,” he said.

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