SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Inland Port Authority board finally met to begin strategizing the massive project.
Last month’s meeting stalled over questions about whether it was illegal. This month, they picked a new board chairman who vowed to keep meetings open and transparent.
The Inland Port, located on Salt Lake City’s west side, is a massive facility to bring together road, rail and air into an import/export center through Utah. At Monday’s meeting, it was announced the state will spend about $110 million in infrastructure in the area, but it has the potential to generate billions in economic impact.
But the project has been criticized by Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and environmental groups. The mayor has accused the state of a “land grab” by sweeping up so much space under the port authority. Environmental groups worry about the impact to the air quality and watershed.
On Monday, Inland Port Authority Chairman Derek Miller asked for dialogue.
“We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us,” he said.
In a show of transparency, Miller asked for public comment from the crowd. West side residents, whose neighborhoods will be impacted, appeared pleasantly surprised. Richard Holman asked for the creation of a subcommittee for residents to bring concerns.
House Majority Whip Francis Gibson, R-Mapleton, urged environmental groups to pick someone to speak for them at future meetings.
“I’d just like to know who to talk with,” he said.
“There will be lots of voices,” Deeda Seed of the Center for Biological Diversity responded. “The biggest issue for all of us is how will we be able to breathe clean air in the future?”