West Jordan playhouse closes over seismic concerns

By Rebecca Palmer
Deseret News, 17 March 2010, page B3

Article Summary:

Closure of Sugar Factory Playhouse:

  • on Monday a condemnation notice was placed on the locked door of the theater
  • closed for seismic safety reasons\
  • a BHB Consulting Engineers review recommended closure of the building as soon as possible
  • a review by the Utah Risk Management Association also found the building unsafe
  • former West Jordan Mayor David Newton called the building closure unnecessary because its condition hadn't changed in years

The classic British comedic play “See How They Run” was to open Thursday. Preparation included:

  • nine actors and volunteer directors, set-designers and crew working since January
  • hundreds of volunteer hours in rehearsals
  • construction of an elaborate set

“Some in the arts community are blaming first-year Mayor Melissa Johnson for the closure, pointing to her nay vote on funding playhouse renovations in December 2009. The vote to fund $1 million of $3 million in renovations ultimately passed, however, and Johnson claims it is that fact that led to the building's abrupt closure. The mayor had asked for a review of 4-year-old seismic studies on the building to see how much renovation was needed. Study results returned March 12 found the building unsafe for occupancy based on unreinforced concrete walls and a heavy concrete ceiling not connected to the supporting walls. The BHB Consulting Engineers review recommended closure of the building as soon as possible.”

"With this new study in hand, I have no choice but the tag this building 'unsafe' and keep people out of it. I would like to post the 'unsafe' notices immediately to prevent any potential injury and protect this city from any liability." (Bill Bailey, West Jordan building official, in a memo to city employees)

"I refuse to compromise public safety. You have an expectation of safety when you go into city building. Officials owe it to the public to restrict access." (Melissa Johnson, West Jordan Mayor)