The gondola dream has raised its ethereal head many times in the intervening years, but never with such passion as now.
Propelled by the "vision" of our "can-do" Mayor, and that shadowy group of "go-getters" which dubs itself "Lift Ogden," Ogden's gondola dream seems well within reach now, if only the money that's always been the obstacle to paying for it can somehow be found. There are people in our town who passionately believe they can get it done imminently, if only a little public money can be snagged to put it all together.
Of course this latest plan is much more grandiose than the five-decade-old dream that my father (and I) dreamed. Whereas we'd had visions of a mere tram or gondola running from the top of 27th Street straight up Taylor's canyon, the 21st-century incarnation of the dream is much fancier -- and more "visionary." What's apparently now on the front-burner, gentle readers, is a plan to "fold up the tent" on existing UTA bus route 603, which runs from downtown Ogden to the vicinity to Weber State University -- with at least five intermediate stops enroute. In its place will be substituted a high-speed gondola -- with zero intermediary stops. From that point it can hook up to another gondola, of course, presumedly to be financed at least in part with the suddenly-wealthy Chris Peterson's private funds, straight to the top of Mount Ogden.
The key to the whole
I really like John Wright's writing. Not only does he do the investigative footwork necessary to reporting the essential facts, his writing style is smooth and readable. He's as much a story-teller as a reporter, I think. This story, filled with detail and more labyrinthine plot conflicts than a dime novel, is particularly good, I think.
For example, Mr. Wright's article provides the following from Mayor Godfrey: "Godfrey said he is confident he can win the City Council's support for a gondola." (What a surprise!)
Yet only a few paragraphs later he provides this tantalizing information:
City Councilman Kent Jorgenson said the council has indicated it does not support using public money for a gondola.
"If they do a tram or gondola, then the mayor has to come up with private funds," Jorgenson said. "At this point, we haven't heard or haven't seen the (gondola) plan, so it's difficult to make any kind of observation."
Jorgenson said he is concerned that eliminating stops on a gondola route would reduce its effectiveness as a public transit system and revitalization tool. Like Brockman, he also expressed a desire to hear from the public.
Do you feel the plot tension, folks? What will the Jorgensen and the city council do?
What's really interesting is that Councilman Jorgensen works as a Utah Transportation Authority (UTA) Public Relations person by day. The UTA has apparently not come out in favor the gondola plan, and seems to prefer streetcars or trolleys, according to John Wright's report.
Query: Is there anyone on the Ogden City Council who understands the meaning of the term "conflict of interest?" Perhaps Mr. Jorgensen can "look it up."
And query #2: When was the last time the citizens of Ogden City ever heard Councilman Jorgensen ever say he wanted to hear from the lumpenpublik on anything?
See what I mean about plot conflict?
Be sure to read John Wright's story here.
As an added "bonus" you can view a PDF of the existing Ogden City UTA bus route 603 here.
I anticipate we'll have some spirited reader commentary on this story on Weber County Forum today, and in the days to come.
Update 8/8/05 10:10 a.m. MT: I am now informed by UTmorMAN that he has posted an article on the subject of this morning's John Wright article on his own the good in ogden blog.
Update 8/8/05 11:41 a.m. MT: It appears that the AP wire service has now picked up on the earlier John Wright story.