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Holladay Journal

Churchill Jr. installs ‘gates of Mordor’ to keep west parking lot secure

Jan 21, 2020 10:29AM ● By Heather Lawrence

A mechanized gate now controls traffic in the west parking lot at Churchill Jr. High. GSD cited delinquent behavior as the reason for the gate. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)

By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]

Churchill Jr. High’s west parking lot has a magnificent view of the Salt Lake Valley. However, not everyone who comes to the lot comes for the view and respects the property. Last summer, Granite School District (GSD) installed a mechanized gate in hopes of deterring vandalism and other delinquent behavior. The gate effectively closes the parking lot for the night. 

“The gate prevents access to the west parking lot after hours. This was a district-level project after multiple and ongoing (several years) of complaints from neighbors,” said Ben Horsley, communications director for GSD. 

Horsley said “delinquent individuals on property after hours” vandalized school property and violated noise ordinances.

Bidding for the gate job opened last spring. The project was given to Royalty Services Group from Syracuse. The job was completed for the new school year.  

“We joked they were like the Gates of Mordor,” said Churchill Principal Trent Hendricks, referencing the land from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” books. The gate stays up during the day, and parents and staff come and go just like before. 

“The community loves the parking lot for the view, and we want it to be open to them. We also have it open when there are evening activities and concerts,” Hendricks said. 

“But not everyone who comes follows the rules. They’ll do donuts in the parking lot or on the grass when it snows, or leave garbage here. So the decision was made to put in a gate and keep cars out after hours,” Hendricks said. 

As far as access, Horsley said it’s up to the district to decide. “Anyone we wish [can get access with their badges]. It’s as simple as adding someone to a computer list of access rights.”

A teacher at Churchill who did not wish to be named said she remembered one time when there was an issue with the gate. “One morning I had to be at school early, and the gate wasn’t opening. My badge didn’t open it — none of the teachers’ badges do. My principal was there, but his badge didn’t open it, either. Maybe they’ve changed it since then.”

There is not a gate on the east parking lot, and it is still accessible all hours.  

Horsley said the feedback from Churchill’s neighbors has all been “positive and more inclined that it was ‘about time.’”

“One lady who was walking by stopped one of our police electronics gentlemen who was there making adjustments… [She] commented (as a neighbor) that she was ecstatic that the district had finally done something to secure the property,” Horsley said. 

If people notice malfunctions, vandalism or other issues, they can call the school’s front office if it’s during school hours, 385-646-5144. Call Granite Police Dispatch after hours, 801-481-7122. “They can get an on-call person to the site,” Horsley said.