Community connection changing lives in South Salt Lake

August 24, 2011
Author: Charee Peck | Deseret News


(photo courtesy of

SOUTH SALT LAKE — Vanice Thompson smiled as she balanced on a ladder and scraped old paint off her front porch. The mother of three knew that a large group of volunteers from the K2 Church would be at her home to paint it the next day and do some other improvements, all part of South Salt Lake’s Community Connection program.

Earlier this year, Mayor Cherie Wood launched the Community Connection project to focus resources on rehabilitating the area between 2700 South and I-80 and between Main Street and West Temple.

“The goal is to focus all the city programs, federal neighborhood revitalization funds and volunteer programs on a select area of the city in order to obtain the maximum impact,” said Wood. “We want to provide clean, safe, beautiful neighborhoods for our residents and businesses, and Community Connection has allowed us to really see the progress we are making.”

Thompson, who has lived on Stratford Avenue in the Community Connection project area for 14 years, feels that it is working. “Attitudes are changing as the homes along our street are cleaned up,” she said. “These are good improvements, and the area is so much better than when we moved in."

The rehab projects include roofing, exterior paint, landscaping, fence repairs and other exterior repairs as needed. The city is also focusing on parking strip maintenance, lighting repairs, repairing sidewalks and other trip hazards, painting fire hydrants and addressing code enforcement problems.

Already the project has attracted volunteer support from World Changers, Zions Bank Paint-a-Thon, Project RAIN, K2 Church, Rock Church, local LDS wards, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Broadview University, Woodrow Wilson Elementary School and area residents.

Around the corner a few days later on Crystal Avenue, 59-year-old Augustine Sanchez watched in awe as a few dozen city employees painted his house on a Tuesday afternoon. Even Wood was there with a paint brush, and the wheat colored home with brown trim has never looked better.

City employees from nearly every department in the city helped paint the old home, removed a dilapidated fence, tore out a broken tree in the front yard, hauled away an old couch that had sat outside too long, and helped Sanchez become fully compliant with all of the city ordinances. Finance clerks worked alongside employees from public works, parks and recreation professionals showed members of the Youth City Council what to do, and employees from the Urban Livability Department and Code Enforcement laughed as they worked together in the August heat.