Did you know Emigration Creek runs underground through Herman Franks Park?
Herman Franks Park is a small neighborhood park in the East Liberty neighborhood of Salt Lake City. Its attractors include three baseball diamonds and a dog park. Although the park is well used, it often lays empty at certain times and seasons of the year, when its attractors are in the off-season. This has led to unwanted activities and issues moving in from elsewhere as there are no “eyes-on-the-street” to citizen police the area. In our oasis on the edge of a desert, we believe there is a better vision for the unused grassy buffer around the park. Rather than wasting our vital mountain runoff for the irrigation of Kentucky bluegrass, we can pay homage to the history of place - one in which the seven creeks flowed freely - to, instead, restore and purify this water by uncovering it for the benefit of all species, human and nonhuman.
The Seven Canyons Trust seeks to daylight over 1,000 feet of Emigration Creek at the perimeter of the park to activate the space between the baseball diamonds and the surrounding roads. The restored creek channel will create a beautiful backdrop for the current uses at the park, without disrupting them in any way. Daylighting Emigration Creek will create a nexus for water quality impairments to be retain and cleaned, improving water quality for downstream users and underserved communities on the west-side. New riparian vegetation will create vital habitat for migratory birds coming to the valley from South America or Canada, and the 80 percent of Utah’s species that rely on riparian areas for a portion of their lifecycle. The channel will be able to naturally fluctuate with high flows, mitigating flooding potential in the area and removing choke points in the stormwater system that can cause disastrous clogging. This project will become an opportunity for children to access natural play areas, benefitting their physical and mental well-being as detailed in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. A gathering space will be created for the families to picnic and relax near water. Surrounding property values of the area will likely increase with the implementation of the project. A study, done by the University of North Carolina, found that property values adjacent to restoration sites, increased by an average of $3,100. An aesthetically-pleasing creek can facilitate surrounding private development, as people are drawn towards the area and the pedestrian environment is improved. This creek will become the start to a regional east-west trail along Emigration Creek, detailing the original route pioneers may have traveled as they entered the valley. The creek will provide a living laboratory for nearby Westminster College, and Hawthorne and Emerson Elementary Schools. Students can research STEM-based topics, including water quality testing, biological surveys, and much more.
In 2015, a group of Westminster College Environmental Studies students were studying the hydrology from their campus to Liberty Park. Through a Seven Creeks | Walk Series event, students saw as Emigration Creek became lost underneath roads and pavement, right outside their campus. Following the underground culvert, students followed the creek as it traveled underneath houses, parking lots, sidewalks, and through a park. This park, Herman Franks Park, excited students as they began to realize the potential to uncover over 1,000 feet of Emigration Creek. Students discussed the benefits of bringing this creek to the surface and restoring its natural stream channel, ranging from research opportunities to creating community green space for accessing nature. Short-term strategies to raise awareness for the project in the neighborhood were envisioned. Through urban intervention - short-term low-cost installations to catalyze long-term change - students envisioned strategies to visually daylight the creek in the near-term as awareness and community support is built for long-term physical daylighting.
The Seven Canyons Trust has secured an in-kind donation of $50,000 from Bockholt Landscape Architecture and support from the Franks Family Foundation to assist in creating a community-based design vision to daylight Emigration Creek at the perimeter of Herman Franks Park. On November 18, the Herman Franks Park Emigration Creek Daylight Project was kicked-off by Community Design Charrette - One to gather thoughts, ideas and visions. Bockholt has used the feedback gather from stakeholders and residents to create two different design concepts. Community Design Charrette - Two, on December 13, gathered input on the two design concepts. This feedback has assisted in creating a collaborative community-based preferred design. A Herman Franks Park Emigration Creek Daylighting Project Master Plan will be unveiled to guide implementation of the preferred design with cost estimates for the feasibility to daylight over 1,000 feet of Emigration Creek.
We need your support to assist with the neighborhood planning process. We must act now to begin the healing and repairing of our hydrology. With your help, we can collect the best information from residents of this neighborhood to create a responsive design and plan for this exciting, restorative addition to Herman Franks Park.