Thursday, August 27, 2009

Open Space Meeting Tonight at 7 P.M.

First chance to provide your citizen input toward amending the Emerald City General Plan

Here's another quick reminder of tonight's meeting, wherein city officials will initiate the process of developing a city-wide open space plan:
Heads Up On An Upcoming Open House Meeting: Development of An Ogden City Open Space Plan
As we said before, the process will be similar to what happened with the Mt. Ogden Community Plan; and the final document will then become part of the city's General Plan, which is an ordinance that carries the force of law.

We hope every interested Weber County Forum reader will plan to attend.

We'll keep this space open for post meeting comments, or interim comments, for that matter. And who knows? Perhaps, if we're lucky, some enterprising reader will provide live blogging.

So who will be the first to offer their pre-event comments?

What would our readers like to see, in the direction of preserving open space?

Update 8/27/09 6:29 p.m. Per intrepid Ogden city activist Bill C., carved out from the lower comments section:
Hey folks, hope this ain't too late but, get to this meeting tonite. The darkside will be there trying to place more post-its than we can. Now is not a time to be complacent.
One more reason for the proposition that the real Emerald City Lunpencitizens should show up for tonight's open space meeting en masse.

10 comments:

Moroni McConkie said...

Desperately seeking Jason Wood. Please phone your agent.

Ray Vaughn said...

What guarantee is there that the mayor will obey the results of the plan? His history is not overflowing with strict adherence to actions he does not agree with.

Bill C. said...

Hey folks, hope this ain't too late but, get to this meeting tonite. The darkside will be there trying to place more post-its than we can. Now is not a time to be complacent.

Curmudgeon said...

Meeting was interesting. Consisted of about an hour's briefing by planning staff on the history of parks and open space in Ogden, followed by the crowd offering random ideas on a variety of very general questions ["What does open space mean to you?" for example] and then circulating around four stations at which planning staffers took suggestions, concerns, ideas, cautions about a variety of broad and general topics [preservation issues, user conflicts on public lands, what do people mean by "open space" exactly, education and safety in public places, and so on.] A 15 person advisory committee will be selected from volunteers who dropped their names/addresses in a box for the planning staff. [Selection method not disclosed.]

At the open session, some chewy key questions did arise. Several people there suggested --- wisely I think --- that the city distinguish between "open space," "green space" and "parks" and not try to lump all of them together into one category called "open space." The concern was that lumping it all together, including areas not generally open for general public use school yards, for example, cemeteries, storm water catchment areas, etc.] as "open space" would create an artificially high "open space per one K of population" metric for Ogden, and could be used therefor to justify developing public lands. There seemed to be [I was eavesdropping shamelessly around the hall] some concern expressed about this --- about keeping say school yards out of the "open space" totals for example --- at a variety of the comment stations.

Many other topics raised at the break out sessions. Several people at several stations talked about the break-in problems at the 36th Street trail head. A lot of discussion, really, about making sure a variety of recreational public uses was included within the city's recreational open spaces/park lands [e.g. paved walking/biking paths like the River Parkway and more primitive trails such as the Bonneville Bench Trail --- that one size does not and will not and should not fit all, so to speak.]

Downside of the meeting: fairly well attended, but as one woman pointed out at one breakout session, "this room is not a cross section of Ogden, nor is it a cross section of park users in Ogden." She was right. Attendance was very largely white middle class I think.

I asked if the city had done any research on who actually uses Ogden City parks and parklands, and how. The answer was, well, no. I suggested it might be informative for the planning staff to just get out of a warmish Saturday and walk the parks. Who is using them? How are they being used? And in what numbers where? [Power walking? Family picnics? Softball games? --- organized or pick up? Soccer? Family reunions? Strolling? Who? Where? How? What ethnic groups? Are the city's public plazas being used much --- say the one just in front of the Junction climbing wall? Or the one between the four restaurants across the street from the theater? How are they being used? Etc. ] Seemed to me this is an instance where "management by walkin' around" might produce some useful information.

Someone suggested meetings like the one last night, or a smaller version, might be held in some of the more heavily used parks to get feedback from the people actually using them at the time. Worth thinking about, seems to me.

Overall, a worthwhile meeting. Glad I went. Both informative and providing opportunities... lots of them... for public comment. There were Councilmembers there --- I saw or spoke to Mr. Stephens, Ms. Jeske, Ms. Gouchnour, and Mr. Garcia. There may have been others there as well I didn't run into. Some Council candidates were there too.

Next step is selection of the citizen advisory committee, I think. The SE needs to stay on top of the process. I'm sure WCF will.

Others who were there may have a different take on the meeting, but for what it's worth, that was mine.

JEFF said...

As one on the Mt. Ogden advisory group I would suggest having the planing staff set up a booth at Mt Ogden Park also the park on 23 above Harrison when the coccer teams are active there. These venues are heavily used for soccer and their input would be invaluable.

I also agree that school property should not be considered in the studies since Ogden City has no control of the practice fields. Only include property that the city maintains or controls, this should include RDA land that is vacant. Private property that is undeveloped should also be taken off the mix to consider for open space.

This should be a good start for the study, sorry there weren't more inner city attendees.

Bill C. said...

One thing that I sensed strongly was the staff's somewhat surprize that many in attendance weren't buying into the talk of guidelines and comparatives concerning formal reccomendations and national averages for open space. Yes there are published documents advocating amounts considered appropriate, but why should that apply here.
Ogden has a unique opportunity regarding raw land on our benches, most residents seem to prefer to keep and preserve it that way. Many of the planning staff had a hard time with the notion of doing just that, but not counting it in their quantative inventory.
I don't care how we stack up in open space per capita with Columbus Ohio, this is our home and we have a great opportunity to do something that will benefit and enhance the lives of many generations to come.
Hopefully the proccess and selection of the participants can bear that out, as well as convert the reluctant portion of the planning staff to the will of the people.
This could be a great thing if done correctly.

Curmudgeon said...

Jeff:

Good ideas, all of them. Couple of years ago, I staffed for a while a water-and-info table at the 29th Street Trailhead for Smart Growth Ogden. I was surprised by where people heading up on to the trails there were coming from. Many from Ogden, of course, sometimes whole families. Folks of different races, ethnicities. Many from towns around, from Brigham City all the way down to Salt Lake. And many from around the US --- and I mean all over the US --- some who were here on vacation trips, and asked at their motel or hotel for a fun thing to do with the kids, and were told about Waterfall Canyon, and out they came.

Getting reactions, suggestions, feedback from people actually using the parks as they use them as you suggested is a very good idea, I think. I hope the planning staff does it, but I wouldn't limit it just to the sites you mentioned. I'd put rotate them through other parks all over the city --- west, north, and south.

Jennifer Neil said...

I went to the Open Space Community Forum last night. I must say, there are some people concerned with open space but I expected more people to show, for some reason. For our beautiful City of Ogden to be blessed to be in such a beautiful area of the Wasatch Front is a wonderful opportunity to fully take advantage of the open space surrounding us.

Preserving open space and revitalizing downtown could be and should be foremost on anyone's list. We are basically landlocked, as someone at the meeting mentioned. We are surrounded on all borders by other towns and cities, and on the East by the lovely mountains.

We are already developed to the foothills, if we develop any further we may run into trouble the likes of which is plaguing Davis County right now - slopes are too steep, ground cover and trees are stripped to make way for homes and other development. As a result, homes are slip-sliding away and homeowners are left standing in the mess with not many options.

The natural growth up to the tree line is what holds the mountain in place - you take that away and gravity takes over, especially with the added weight of large homes, etc. We experienced that to some extent with the slipping of Skyline Drive behind the University. Besides living on a fault area the other geopraphical features need to be carefully considered when proposing new development, in addition to public input.

It was brought up in the meeting that city parks are considered open space - a place to take your kids, or take a short walk if that is all you can manage because of time or physical restraints. These areas should be taken care of and monitored for safety. There may be worries that some inner city parks are occupied by gangs or littered with drug paraphernalia -- if so, attention should be given to these matters.

One idea might be to promote an "Adopt a Park" program, similar to the statewide "Adopt a Highway" progam, where groups of volunteers can help in the policing of the parks; this will give more of a sense of public ownership to the people, and may promote more utilization of public parks by a more diverse group of people. I agree with Curm and Jeff on the idea of doing informal surveys of people actually using the parks around the city, since many of them probably were not at the meeting last night.

Dorrene Jeske said...

It was a good meeting last night and I felt the Planning staff did a good job of soliciting ideas, concerns, etc.

I like the "Adopt-A-Park" idea. We already have organized volunteer groups who could help with the program -- Neighborhood Watch and CERT teams, could include a few hours of service into their training/meeting sessions.

I think that a policy, resolution or ordinance needs to be developed by the council to ensure that there is no development in the foothills on the east bench. The property tax revenue that would be gained with a housing/condo development, isn't that much that it would worth the loss of the beautiful vistas, quality of life, and free recreation venues for active families. Also, we would lose an amenity that businesses now consider an asset when looking to relocate their business and sell their employees on a location, and that is the trail system, the golf course, and a beautiful winter wonderland for various activities. We mustn't sell our beautiful open space for a "pot of porridge."

Development should be restricted to downtown and nearby neighborhoods. We have a lot of empty stores/vacant buildings on the east side of Washington, that could be refurbished, or demolished to meet plans for a new development. Our mixed-use zoning of downtown would make it easy to develop the downtown area. This idea would probably have to wait for the economy to improve before realizing the benefits of such a plan.

Ogden is going to grow into a thriving downtown again. We need to plan for it and be patient. But we must also keep our beautiful foothills free of housing development in order to have a place where people want to be, a place where people are proud to call home! The greatest place to live! With something for EVERYONE!

Ogden Dem said...

As a member of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee I will take some of the above ideas to my next meeting. I too like the survey idea, actually last spring we discussed surveying to find people that were NOT using our parks to find out why they are not and to also find out what we need to do in our parks to draw them in.

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