Provo spending hundreds of thousands to prepare for temple open house

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The Provo City Center Temple open house begins on Jan. 15, 2016 and runs through March 5, 2016. (Photo by Alisha Gallagher)

Over nine weeks starting Jan. 15, between 800,000 and 900,000 people are expected to make their way to Provo to tour the new LDS Provo City Center Temple. Those people likely will need places to park, signs to direct them to the temple and other services, pamphlets to tell them where to eat and shop, and police and fire personnel to keep them safe.

The only thing Provo has to compare to this weeks-long event is the Olympics in 2002, kind of. “I think in the end, the number of visitors and complexity will dwarf what we experienced in 2002,” said Wayne Parker, Provo’s chief administrative officer.

And in addition to the open house visitors, Provo’s expecting 5,000 to 6,000 on the Sunday when the temple is dedicated in March, and 20,000 at the Marriott Center for a cultural celebration that same weekend.

So to prepare for this huge and long event, the Provo council on Tuesday allocated more than $256,000 to pay for reserve police officers and overtime for full-time police and fire personnel, fix trip hazards on downtown sidewalks, snow removal on more sidewalks than the city usually covers, additional wayfinding signs so visitors will know where to go, temporary parking restriction signs and a welcome center on the corner of University Avenue and Center Street (the former Los Hermanos building). There will be printed guides available at the welcome center as well as an art exhibit and information about the temple’s architecture, which will be run by Downtown Provo Inc.

In addition to printed guides, Provo and Downtown Provo Inc. have apps containing information about the area, Parker said. There also will be QR codes on signs downtown so that visitors can download the information to their smartphones.

Parker said the city looked into recruiting volunteers for some public safety jobs, but because the local church planning committee for the open house is looking for 25,000 volunteers already, the volunteer pool likely will be dried up.

The council also approved spending more than $168,000 on downtown projects that aren’t directly related to the temple open house, but kind of are. That money will be spend on landscaping in planter boxes — partly to prevent street vendors or protesters from standing in them, Parker said — vinyl wraps for traffic signal poles to make them more attractive, stamped red brick crosswalks, downtown banners and two electronic kiosks with touchscreens to point visitors to restaurants and retail.

Mayor John Curtis said the open house will have a big impact on Provo, but the temple will continue to impact the city for the longterm. “I think it’s almost impossible to measure the impact of this on our community.”

He expects at least a thousand people coming to the temple on a daily basis after the open house, and for it to attract more LDS weddings than any temple, other than Salt Lake.

“In many ways this is a blessing to the community far beyond just this open house period of time,” Curtis said.

For more information about the open house, click here.

For a closer look at the exterior of the temple and information on the design, click here.

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Amie Rose has more than 14 years of experience writing and editing at newspapers in Utah and New Mexico. She graduated from BYU with a degree in journalism. She lives in Utah Valley with her husband, toddler and crazy dog.

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