Most of us know Draper as the home of the Utah State Prison and Point of the Mountain. This "point" is where a break in the Traverse Mountains separates the Salt Lake and Utah Vallies. It's the area of Interstate 15 where commuters find heaven or hell, depending on which direction you're traveling during morning or evening rush hour. To some, it's one of the best places in the country for hang- and paragliding—the views of each valley and surrounding mountains are breathtaking from the sky. Decades ago, the little town was an area of pig farms and polygamists, and a place to race motorcycles in the summer. It was a quiet suburb less than 20 miles from Temple Square.
But in the 1990s, a housing boom began just east of the freeway and has continued to the top of Traverse Mountain with miles and miles of stucco homes surrounding a challenging golf course. Much of it was the brainchild of developer Terry Diehl, who has recently been in the news after facing federal bankruptcy fraud charges. Another huge housing development, SunCrest, was envisioned near South Mountain, but was lost to Zions Bank in the last economic crash. Draper City purchased what was left of the planned subdivision and has added the land to the fabulous Corner Canyon recreation area, making almost 6,000 acres of green space and trails for Draper residents and visitors.
My friend Troy Walker is mayor of Draper. You might have seen him on the local news recently when he offered city land as a potential location for a new homeless facility that the state and county need so desperately. He said it was "the Christian thing to do," but subsequently, he was verbally nailed to a public cross by his fellow Draperites for even suggesting the idea. When I saw him afterward, he told me that most of the backlash was about his Christian comment. He's a fighter—the son of an amazing Vietnam vet who survived 18 helicopter crashes in the 1960s. He's maintained the city as a great place to invest in and develop, with unique zoning laws that do not limit buildings' height or density. He serves on the Point of the Mountain Development Commission with other mayors and politicos. They just completed a survey that found citizens see transportation as the area's biggest challenge, followed by clean air. For now, he and his fair city have a lot on their plate as they plan for the future of the area surrounding the state-owned prison site, while traffic at The Point practically doubles before our eyes.