Longtime art school receives eviction notice in South Salt Lake

SOUTH SALT LAKE, UtahA local art school that has nearly 60 years of history had three days to empty.

The Pioneer Craft House received the eviction notice from the City of South Salt Lake.

“There’s no way to get out of here in three days,” said flute maker Fred Ochoa.

Ochoa is one of many artists who teach a variety of skills at school.

“We are doing a service to the community,” he said.

“I’m blown away. I don’t know how we’re gonna do [in three days]said Jan Harris Smith, who leads the jewelry making program and is also a board member of the Pioneer Craft House. “We have a lot of heavy equipment, a lot of specialized equipment that is not bad.”

But there is another side to what appears to be a sad tale of deportation.

For more than 10 years, there has been a contentious battle between the Pioneer Craft House and South Salt Lake, ever since the city took ownership of Salt Lake County.

The city said the art school had only paid about a year’s rent in all those years.

“They didn’t want to pay rent, but we’re not giving anyone space, it’s not fair to taxpayers,” said Sharen Hauri, director of the city’s neighborhoods department. “They weren’t partners and then they sued us.”

The city also said the art school had a very different take on what to do there.

“We want to build affordable, quality after-school programs that are accessible, and we never felt like Pioneer Craft House was doing that,” Hauri said. “Nobody wants to look like the bad guy they have to move on, but if they don’t provide arts programs for your city and your city pays for it, that doesn’t seem fair.” We are therefore very happy to have solved this problem.

Kayleen C. Rice