September 21, 2008
Property Seized for New Library
By Rebecca Palmer Deseret News
MAGNA -- Darrell Kilpack had big plans for a Western fort theme park in Magna -- until Salt Lake County seized his property for a state-of-the-art library.
Kilpack had spent the past two decades accumulating thousands of used items for the park. He had planned to renovate four crumbling buildings near Main Street and 8900 West into a village that would allow visitors to interact with the antiques. The park also would have provided a place for seniors to talk with younger generations, he said.
"This would be a heck of a facility," Kilpack said. "The way I can do this is by using used things, but I can make it new."
To illustrate his plans, Kilpack on Friday wore a helmet and breastplate to meet with a reporter downtown at the Salt Lake Main Library.
In addition to the historic village and saloon/hotel he had planned for the Magna site, Kilpack wanted to give free carriage rides and lead an "Alexander March" -- as in the Greek warrior Alexander the Great -- geared toward suicide prevention. That's where the armor comes in.
"People would realize that life is hard, and that's what's neat about it, is the struggle," explained Kilpack, who has spent years fighting with the county over various properties he owns in Magna.
This month, the county paid a garbage-removal company to cart away Kilpack's treasures from his property that was to have been home to his theme park. The items included dozens of frayed industrial gloves, more than 100 tires and broken tractor parts.
A local franchise of 1-800-GOT-JUNK removed more than 75 truckloads and 30 tons of steel, wood, cement and tools. The company was able to recycle 70 percent of it, said owner Brian Gibson.
"A lot of this has to be done by hand" Gibson said. "There was just an amazing amount of hoarding being done."
Kilpack is now staying with friends, but his former neighbors are pleased about the library project.
"I love it," said Randy Ellertson, who has watched big, blue trucks slowly haul the rusty piles away. "It's going to clean up this neighborhood so much."
Salt Lake County plans to build a 20,000-square-foot library that is slated to open by spring 2010. The 20,000-square-foot structure will follow the strictest environmental building practices and could utilize geothermal energy and xeriscaping, said library director James Cooper.
The new library will include a plaza and has been designed to fit the character of Magna's Main Street. The library's construction is part of an ongoing county plan to revitalize the street.
The county condemned Kilpack's property in 2007, after he refused to negotiate a sale. Over the years, Kilpack had been fined $30,000 for zoning and health concerns related to the property. After the county condemned the property, county officials gave him two weeks to clear his items from the land.
Kilpack said that wasn't sufficient time, and he tried to find lawyers to help him get more time. But he didn't meet the deadline, and the county said everything on the property now belonged to the county, because the county owned the land.
"I've been treated like a criminal for being different, for building with recycled material," Kilpack said.
In addition to the items that were discarded, 1-800-GOT-JUNK found antique dressers, old snowshoes and valuable lamps. The county plans to hold an antiques sale to liquidate those assets.
The county also has put up a chain-link fence, so Kilpack no longer has access to the property.
Kilpack, a self-described incurable optimist, is looking for an attorney. And he still wants to build his theme park, either on the Magna property, or elsewhere.
"I had no junk there. It's all stuff I needed to build this place," he said. "The state has way too much power. They should be helping people, not taking from them."
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