Bishop H. David Burton's Remarks at the "Giant in Our City" Award Ceremony

Bishop H. David Burton's Remarks at the "Giant in Our City" Award Ceremony

Additional Resource

Following is the full text of Presiding Bishop H. David Burton's remarks upon receiving the "Giant in Our City" award from the Salt Lake Chamber on 16 March 2011.


As some of you know, the memorable days in my life I’ve labeled as “chocolate chip cookie days.” You have a couple of chocolate chip cookies next to your place on the table. Today is a giant chocolate chip cookie day for me!

Almost all the chocolate chip cookie days I’ve enjoyed have happened in this extraordinary city we proudly call home. Except for a very few years of missionary service, education and extensive travel, I’ve lived in Salt Lake all my life. Like each of you, I love this city.

Thank you, Bishop Wester for that beautiful prayer that got us started tonight.

And hasn’t the music been wonderful! Thanks to all who have performed for us tonight.

 

My thanks to the creative people at Bonneville Communications who produced the video we’ve just seen. I’m going to have a few words with them after the meeting. But thanks to all those who gave so generously of their time to offer really “way over the top” but much appreciated observations.

Roland Radack and Ron Jibson, you and your committee are to be commended for all you’ve done to make tonight such a memorable occasion.

Thanks to the many sponsors, whose generosity has made this event possible.

I can’t say enough about the Salt Lake Chamber. And thanks to Scott [Parson] and Lane [Beattie], their board and their very capable staff, not only for tonight’s gathering and this humbling recognition, but for all they do to build and strengthen this city and our great state.

Thanks to my colleagues and associates at Church headquarters who continue to help Salt Lake be a great place to live, to work, and to raise a family.  May I express a few words of thanks to my closest collaborators, people with whom I share unprecedented partnerships.

City Creek would not be nearing completion, nor would we be able to be active in community endeavors, without the vision and support of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their unwavering commitment to this community is enduringly expressed in the resources they have provided to renew and revitalize downtown and to care for those in our community least able to provide for themselves. I am grateful to President Monson and his counselors for their considerable and constant support.

I express heartfelt appreciation to my very able and devoted counselors who have served faithfully with me in the Presiding Bishopric. Bishop Richard C. Edgley and  Bishop Keith B. McMullin are truly “giants” and they, along with our marvelous staff, deserve most of the credit for what this Presiding Bishopric has accomplished.

And, Billy Taubman, your kind words are very much appreciated. Thank you. What a wonderful, productive partnership we have with your company. Collaborating with Taubman’s skilled and talented people has been invaluable in helping this community. We are all excited for the grand opening of the City Creek Center, which is now just one year and six days away, on the 22nd of March, 2012. We hope you’ll put that on your calendar.

Finally, there are not words to describe how indebted I am to my beautiful wife, Barbara, and to our family. I am grateful for each one of our children and twenty grandchildren, most of whom are here tonight. I’m grateful for Barbara’s strength, her love, and occasional gentle reminder.

And speaking of City Creek, the project is topped out and all but closed in. The shape of things to come now is plain to see. We’ve entered the completion phase of the project.  Last summer, we had our first homeowners move into Richards Court, and just last month we announced completion of more condominiums at Promontory on South Temple. Rental apartments on Main Street will be ready for occupancy this summer, and The Regent condominiums will be finished this fall. Early next year, Harmons will open their beautiful new store.

One of my favorite pictures is the one taken just about a year ago of the construction workforce all together, assembled on the site where the Nordstrom store is now going up. Thanks to everyone for your enduring patience during our four-going-on-five years of construction. Disruptions to traffic and pedestrians are finally winding down. There is a bright light at the end of the long construction tunnel!

Speaking at this event eight years ago, when plans for what became City Creek were just beginning to take shape, President Gordon B. Hinckley stated our conviction that “renewed vitality at the head of Main Street will result in increased vitality throughout the entire city.” Downtown has always had good fundamentals – it has good bones – but the muscles on those bones needed a little toning. It was felt that the best place to continue the process started by the visionaries of The Gateway project was a reconditioning program at the top of Main Street.

When Delta Airlines’ Sky magazine asked me why the church was investing such a large amount in downtown Salt Lake City, I answered that “being the birth parents of this community has given us a special interest, a special interest in and some responsibility for the future of this wonderful city.”

Our commitment to this city is broad and deep. Ever since Brigham Young said, “This is the right place. Drive on!” we’ve been striving to do our part to make this city, in a mountain valley, a beautiful, vibrant place that warmly welcomes anyone who wants to make their home here.

In Salt Lake, we hear “This is the place” a lot, but we don’t often hear Brigham’s famous declaration:  “Drive on!”

My favorite image of Brigham Young is Kraig Varner’s bronze statue in the Utah state capitol. A clean-shaven Brigham in the prime of his life is driving on, striding forward, getting to work, his coat flapping open in the wind. Brigham knew the power of focused labor, especially when everyone pulled together. “Drive on!” characterized his life, and he left us a legacy of individual industry committed to the common good.

Another objective for our investment in downtown was to encourage others to invest with us, to “drive on” together toward a bright future for Salt Lake City.  

Hamilton Partners, led by Bruce Bingham here in Salt Lake, has invested millions of dollars in constructing the new 222 South Main office tower and renovating the Boston and Newhouse buildings. 222 is now the home of Goldman Sachs, their second-largest office in the Americas.

Hamilton Partners announced late last year that they are partnering with the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Agency and Swisher Garfield Traub to develop a combined Broadway-style theater and office tower on Main Street and 100 South, just south of City Creek.

Construction is underway on a new federal court house at Main and 400 South, and Questar’s new headquarters building is also underway, just north of the City and County Building. The Gallivan Center is undergoing a major remodel to make it even more appealing as a public gathering place. Renovations at The Leonardo will be finished in April with new exhibit space and learning areas to share its blend of science, technology, and art.  A year-round public market, potentially housed in the historic Rio Grande terminal, is close to becoming a reality under the sponsorship of the Downtown Alliance.

Other projects recently completed downtown include the O.C. Tanner flagship jewelry store in the renovated Hansen Planetarium. And Gateway is now home to a new Hyatt Place Hotel.

Small business is thriving, as well. My friends at the Downtown Alliance tell me more than 60 new retail stores and restaurants have opened their doors in the downtown area since 2009. That vision of “Downtown Rising” is indeed becoming a reality.

Our region continues to be a leader in public transportation. The Intermodal Hub is providing quick and easy connections between buses, light rail and commuter rail, linking together all the cities along the Wasatch Front. TRAX extensions to the airport and Daybreak will be completed next year.

It’s no wonder people’s attitudes and perceptions of downtown are improving. Utahns increasingly feel a sense of ownership and connection to their capitol city.  

With all that’s going on, wouldn’t it be fun to show Brigham Young around town right now. He would be pleased to see how much we’re doing to “drive on,” to ensure that this city remains the “right place” for our children and grandchildren.  

I mentioned Delta’s Sky magazine. Many of you have seen the extensive profile on Utah that’s in the March edition. I was thrilled the editors chose to describe our state on the cover page of the article as “the blueprint for what’s possible when people collaborate.” Just inside that cover, a headline talks about finding “unprecedented partnerships” in Utah. “Unprecedented partnerships” exist in all aspects of life in this state and city. Some of these unprecedented partnerships are in business; some are in the non-profit arts and human services arena; all bring needed resources together in effective collaborations that make a huge difference.

Of all that the Presiding Bishopric is responsible for, perhaps the most satisfying to me is to partner with humanitarian organizations in this city and around the world to help meet very basic human needs. Whether it’s with The Road Home here in Salt Lake to provide transitional housing or shelter for the homeless or with the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Africa to provide measles vaccinations, we are anxious to collaborate in “unprecedented partnerships” to help people, to alleviate suffering and to give individuals and communities the wherewithal to help themselves.

And so this recognition tonight comes not to me alone, but to everyone who collaborates in any way in all the good things that happen daily in Salt Lake City. It’s fitting that we come together to celebrate what we’re accomplishing. In celebrating our progress, we strengthen our resolve to persevere in meeting the challenges that remain before us.

I am both honored and humbled by this recognition. As we conclude, the thought that comes to mind is what a singular honor it is to live among you and know of your many great and good works. The real and deep sense of community we enjoy in this city continually warms the cockles of my heart.

We can find common ground. We can help each other. We can “drive on” together. No matter our differences, we can reach across them and build our city. Together we can continue to make this a great place, a beautiful place, a caring place, a place to worship according to the dictates of our own conscience, a place of mutual respect and, indeed, the right place!

The true “giant in our city” is all of us, hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm, shoulder-to-shoulder, coming together to do good things, to do hard things, and do them in a way that blesses this community and its residents and its wonderful institutions.

It’s a great chocolate chip cookie day. Drive on!

My profound gratitude to each of you. God bless you. Thank you very, very much.

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