SALT LAKE CITY – In the heart of the Ballpark neighborhood is a home for the Native American community.
The Urban Indian Center has been operating in a building donated to the organization for decades. The two-story brick building includes a medical clinic, offices and event space.
Kristina Groves, director of the behavioral health program, described the Urban Indian Center (UIC) as a welcoming place for people.
âYou can come in and get medical services or behavioral health services, or family and social services – from community members who are like them, who understand their Native American childhood experiences,â Groves explained.
She works in the Behavioral Health wing, which occupies half of the ground floor. The other half is devoted to examination rooms and doctor’s offices.
Family nurse practitioner Danielle Puri described how she provides health services and referrals to people of all ages. Puri is part of a faculty practice division at the College of Nursing, University of Utah. The partnership enables a team of U of U nurses to provide community care to UIC clients.
Just before the pandemic, they began to focus on expanding services and examination rooms.
“We are seeing more and more customers coming back. People who bring family members,” Puri said. âAnd certainly, with the recent spike in COVID cases, it’s really increased the number of tests that we do as well as the follow-up with people. “
The activity caused by COVID-19 hasn’t just been inside the clinic.
UIC Executive Director Maurice “Mo” Smith described the challenges they encountered outside of their property.
The problems are on par with what others in the Ballpark neighborhood have described as peaking over the past year: crime, drug use and the search for loose drug paraphernalia, and human waste issues.
READ: Ballpark neighbors discuss their crime concerns with Police Chief Sheriff
âI think what COVID did accentuated it; it really magnified the problems,â Smith said.
With security a priority at the center, Smith explained that they hired security guards for the night.
Despite these challenges, he described his positive vision for the future of UIC, starting with a piece of land they bought next to their parking lot, behind the neighboring 7-Eleven.
UIC has plans for a new building, which will allow them to extend their services and offerings to the community.
That bright future is why Smith was excited about a new plan unveiled Monday by Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall to revitalize the Ballpark neighborhood.
Mendenhall stood on a podium outside Smith’s Ballpark, surrounded on either side by several renderings and shots.
“We are here to mark what is a milestone for Salt Lake City’s Ballpark neighborhood,” she announced.
She then embarked on what is called the Ballpark Station Area Plan. It includes several elements and ideas aimed at energizing the neighborhood and fostering a sense of community.
The mayor described six “big moves”. First, she said, is the creation of a Ballpark Station Area staging area. Second, a reconfiguration of the Ballpark TRAX station to improve access from the west. Third, she said, improves 1300 south for pedestrians and includes new crossings to expand and improve the pedestrian experience at street level.
Mendenhall explained that the fourth âbig moveâ is to create a sense of belonging around the ballpark in a way that positively activates the area 365 days a year.
Fifth, she continued, is to reallocate parking lots and other underutilized properties to add activity to the heart of the neighborhood. Finally, Mendenhall spoke of investing in community amenities and green spaces to balance neighborhood growth with attributes that will improve quality of life.
She gave some specific examples of these great movements.
âWe wanted to offer a glimpse of one of my favorite ideas in this shot, which is creating a festival street from a section of West Temple adjacent to the baseball stadium,â she explained. .
West Temple is reportedly temporarily closed for community events and gatherings outside the stadium.
“In order for us to meet the need for indoor community space, I am pleased to announce today that the plan includes the addition of a new Salt Lake City Public Library in the Ballpark neighborhood,” then announced Mendenhall.
The crowd began to applaud.
Mendenhall added that his staff would act quickly to identify and research a location for said library.
âI think the plan is very aware of the changes that need to be made and how we are alleviating some of these issues related to crime trends that are transparent in the community,â Smith said.
He added that to help alleviate recent problems, it is important to address housing, economic development and health care.
As an organization providing healthcare to Native American customers, Smith explained that they are invested in the Ballpark area with over 40 years of history in this community.
They can’t wait to expand their services, and he said they wanted to be part of the solution.
The city invited UIC to be part of the process early on, Smith said, and he was able to share their expansion plans with the city.
He expressed his appreciation for this seat at the planning table.
âGet respected enough to say, ‘Well, how does this work for your agency in accomplishing your mission? “So we are honored and we support him,” he said.