by Dan Schroeder
Nearly 10 months after the formation of the city's "independent" (i.e., under the mayor's control) golf course committee, its true purpose is becoming clear.
Last week, in response to a GRAMA request from Bill C., the city reluctantly released copies of the latest conceptual plans for a redesigned Mt. Ogden Golf Course. I was able to take photos of the two plans, which I've reduced to a manageable size for Weber County Forum readers (click images to enarge):
As we anticipated, both plans call for a complete reconstruction and rerouting of the course, to accommodate the relocation of the clubhouse to the south end, where it would be accessed from the top of 36th Street. Both plans would entail clearing some of the larger forested and brush-covered areas within the course. And both plans include a significant southward expansion onto land owned by WSU.
Regarding WSU, we should recall the official university statement that Curmudgeon posted here last week:
The following caveats should be mentioned regarding use of WSU land. First, any land used for the golf course should be located in the "no-build" zone of campus (identified in a recent seismic study) or in adjacent areas determined to be undevelopable for university functions. Second, the WSU land should primarily remain as green space. Golf holes or a driving range would be deemed as appropriate uses. Third and finally, any existing WSU buildings or infrastructure that are displaced by the golf course expansion would need to be relocated to other parts of the campus at no cost to the university.How do the plans measure up to these three constraints? Both plans would indeed require relocation of the two WSU service buildings located above 36th Street, presumably at a cost of several million dollars. The "no-build" zone includes these buildings (which wouldn't have been constructed there under today's seismic safety standards) and a bit of surrounding land, but does not extend much farther south. Both plans, however, would extend the driving range somewhat south of the no-build zone, while Option B would put a golf green still farther south, at the tentative location of a future WSU building. Option B would also require relocating a portion of 36th Street and eliminating a WSU parking area.
The main conflict, however, is with the second of WSU's criteria. Both plans show several acres near the clubhouse occupied by new condominiums, with some of these condos spilling onto WSU-owned land. (I've highlighted the WSU property boundary in purple on the maps.) Option A even shows the clubhouse itself (which is also a hotel) and its parking lot on WSU land. While the mayor would undoubtedly argue that the use of WSU land is still "primarily" for green space, it seems unlikely that WSU would see it that way.
Neither plan shows what would become of the trails that currently pass through the development area. Even if new trail alignments can be found, their character would be profoundly different.
In any case, it's now clear that the mayor hopes to finance the golf course reconstruction, at least in part, through the sale or lease of a portion of the city's land for condominium development. The city's portion of the proposed development area coincides, at least roughly, with the area that was conspicuously omitted from the restrictive covenant document that the mayor signed just before the 2007 election.
What isn't so clear is whether such a scheme is economically feasible--especially with the added expense of relocating the two large WSU buildings. Also, remember that WSU considers most of this area to be a "no-build" zone, and the Wasatch Fault extends northward onto the city's property as well. Working around active fault traces would significantly limit the amount of buildable land, and hence the number of condos.
So for many reasons, I'm not predicting that anything like these plans will ever be implemented. But there's still one big reason why Ogden residents should be concerned: We're already paying for a new water system to facilitate these developments. The city is about to replace the two existing water tanks with a larger and higher tank on the north side of Strong's Canyon, with a second tank higher still. These new tanks would provide plenty of water pressure for the entire development depicted in these plans, and also free up the location of the existing tanks for condominium development. And we're paying for all of it through our increased utility bills.
Thanks, mayor, for wasting our money on yet another of your fantasies.