Allen Park is a tiny hidden gem in Sugar House. Hidden on purpose, because the residents wished that nobody would ever find it. Anyone under the age of forty has probably never seen it nor toured the place, as it was intentionally overgrown and out of sight. The last time we went to Allen Park, about five years ago, we were chased out. One resident told us in a very unfriendly manner, “Why would you think that this park would be open to the public? This is our backyard, How would you like it if someone just walked right into your backyard?”
I was surprised by this because it’s a park full of art, sculptures, decorative masonry, tile and quotations and a peacock village. It’s appeared like a place that someone built to be enjoyed by the public. Which turned out was the true intent of Dr. Allen. The residents who were yelling at everyone to keep out were essentially renters, who decided they were tired of visitors. Probably for good reason. Apparently the nickname “Hobbitville” made it a popular pastime among teens to go to the area to find Hobbits.
Last November the renters were evicted because the Allen Park and all of the homes had fallen into disrepair. The owners decided they would prefer to sell to developers, rather than attempt to restore the homes and art areas.
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These homes near Westminster College that overlook Parley’s Creek and the park with the peacocks have sat vacant for over five years. Looks like the developer finally received his permit to demolish and build town homes. • • I’m sure there is an interesting story there. DM us if you know any details.
But as Allen Park began to receive media attention (we posted on it on Instagram and received around 10 comments) a group of residents decided to petition to get the city to purchase and “Save Allen Park”. Sugar House residents have witnessed plenty of new, modern dense developments built over the top of the former quirky and always somewhat hippy nature of what Sugar House always stood for. Allen Park offered a unique park/sanctuary with Parley’s Creek flowing through and woods. Residents (like myself) have realized this awesome place like the Secret Garden has massive potential. So it was a great victory for Sugar House residents and Sugar House’s historic character.
Allen Park is nicknamed “Hobbitville” for a good reason. It looks like a place where Hobbits would like to live. There are these peacocks who free range the area. I’ve always loved running past it after I run with my dogs through the Westminster College ravine. And now if I could actually run through the park to get to Sugar House park, my running route will be improved.
Our riparian corridors are some of our best assets to rebalance when living in the city. Listening to a stream of running water; seeing the wildlife and the plants around the stream is an excellent way to meditate. So as much as I like small government, I think this is a good investment by Salt Lake City. And it’s a way better idea to do this than to develop over it.
And I think that our coverage and this story that went viral on UtahStories.com might have had a small part to do with this action being taken by residents which provided a grass-roots effort to save Allen Park.
Which leads me nicely into my segway of how you can support Utah Stories local coverage of important issues like saving our open spaces and riparian corridors.
The reason I believe so strongly in local journalism and stories about our small business community is that there are powers and monied interests who try to align themselves with our political leaders who would very much like to build over everything cool, special and squash out small business owners in the process. Local journalism can make a difference.
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