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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The paradox of Orchard Hills

Twelve thousand Utahns are fast developing an inferiority complex.

Their little town has a growing community. It has industry. It even has (brace yourself) a golf course. What North Salt Lake lacks-what it pines for-is identity.

That was the pitch last year from Councilwoman Lisa Watts Baskin, at least. After pointing out that the city’s name is “confusing and unattractive” to potential visitors, Baskin raised the idea of a fresh new moniker-one worthy of hosting the very snazziest of primetime teenage dramas.

Her suggestion? Orchard Hills, Utah.

This name, also proposed unsuccessfully in 1979 and 1981, highlights the younger, more affluent easternmost bench of North Salt Lake, as well as Orchard Drive, a main road in town. Unfortunately for Baskin, many residents from the western half of town thought the implication was that their side smells as if it were the site of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

Baskin’s proposal was set to go to a vote in June 2005, but protesters stormed city hall to demand a halt until something was done to take the pulse of the city’s populace. The rabble wouldn’t relent, and the city commissioned a poll.

Last week, just 16 months later, snails at Bountiful-based Insight Research found that 48 percent of residents want to keep the current name, while 43 percent prefer a change (margin of error: 5 percent). A presidential majority, so to speak.

Suddenly, the brave councilwoman’s proposal is deader than a bullfrog in the nearby toxic swamp they call the Jordan River.

“Ribbit!” I exclaimed upon hearing of this development. “If four out of 10 citizens are ashamed to address an envelope, it’s our duty to seek an alternative!”

Local businesses worried about the costs of changing stationery should consider the potential financial benefit to the community as a whole. “East Detroit” became Eastpointe, Mich., after a vote in 1992. The result of no longer associating with Detroit was a dramatic rise in property values.

(Actually, that doesn’t apply here, since North Salt Lake is the cesspool of hell in this case. But I digress?)

The error of Baskin’s approach was political disorganization. According to a poll (margin of error: 100 percent), only 34 percent of residents wanted to keep North Salt Lake. Orchard Hills got 34 percent of the vote, while the rest were split among five other choices.

If the “Orchard City” and “Orchard Heights” supporters had somehow consolidated their support for Orchard Hills (an Orchard Convention, perhaps?), they would have garnered a decisive 54 percent. Alas, it was not to be for the Orchardians.

According to Insight Research, those opposed to the name change are “more vociferous” and tend to be older. Among the vociferous residents is Lisa Vilchez, the self-proclaimed “biggest mouth in town,” who offered her thoughts on the name change.

“North Salt Lake is where we’re at-north of Salt Lake. Figure it out. It’s like changing your kids’ name when they’re 20.”

Vilchez doesn’t care who supports the name change. “I was talking with my dad about how I thought it was stupid,” she said. “He said he was the one who proposed it so many years ago.”

Vilchez pointed out that, in her father’s defense, he wanted to call the town “Hillside.” As for Orchard Hills?

“Boooo! There’s no more orchards,” she said, although onlookers assured me that there are, in fact, orchards. Somewhere.

Some citizens thought “Lakeview” was a suitable alternative, even though smoke stacks obscure half of the town’s view of the lake. In case you haven’t had the pleasure of driving by North Salt Lake-and pushing the “re-circulate air” button-it’s home to four of Davis County’s top 10 worst polluters, with four others sitting nearby in Woods Cross.

Maybe North Salt Lake should adopt the morbid humility of Crapo, Md.; Boring, Ore.; or the slightly more euphemistic Ordinary, Va. According to, the mean travel time to work is more than 20 minutes in North Salt Lake: “Commutersville, Utah?”

A visit to the city’s Web site indicates it’s not likely to embrace such brevity. The town’s online dictum reads:

“North Salt Lake City lies nestled between the Davis-Salt Lake County line on the south and Bountiful-Woods Cross on the north. It is encompassed by the highway and freeway entering and exiting the area. If the traveler would stop and take a second look, he would see an industrial and business area sprawling west beyond the freeway to the Great Salt Lake and to the east they would find the Eaglewood Golf Course surrounded by beautiful homes.”

Yikes. “Encompassed by highway” with “industrial sprawls.” Not much to work with. Um, the digits of the zip code, 84054, add up to 21.

“Blackjack, Utah?”

Lacking any decent qualities at the present, maybe North Salt Lake could look to history for inspiration. One of the first things that settlers seeking land for pasture found upon reaching what is now North Salt Lake was a series of hot springs, which are active to this day.

“Hot Springs, Utah?”

Nah, that just seems like a caustic reference to the billowing flames across the highway.

I’m spent. Like the town in question, this search is fruitless. Maybe the people of the town should start fielding offers. The former Halfway, Ore., got $100,000 and 20 computers for renaming the town after eBay subsidiary

“Mastercard, Utah?” Priceless.

Whatever name is chosen-be it Dearborn (Chicago), Jernigan (Orlando), Cowford (Jacksonville), Losantisville (Cincinnati), Marthasville (Atlanta), Swilling’s Mill (Phoenix) or Yerba Buena (San Francisco)-the residents need to take action if they ever hope to have a thriving metropolis.

If not, North Salt Lake will forever be “The Salt Lake around the bend.”

Maybe it’s better that way. Nobody wants to see that filth.

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