By Dan Schroeder
The Standard-Examiner recently published a commentary by Mayor Godfrey, bragging about some of his accomplishments and reminding us of his "high adventure" vision for Ogden's future. In response, I'd like to thank the mayor for giving me this opportunity to publish a little list that I've compiled.
When an elected official has been in office for nearly a decade, I think it's appropriate to judge his visions in light of his record. Mayor Godfrey's record has its bright spots, as he repeatedly reminds us. But to get the full picture, we need to look at what he actually promised once upon a time--and compare those promises to the current reality.
So I offer this modest list as an additional basis for community discussion. I don't claim that the list is complete, or that it fairly represents the mayor's full record. Nor do I mean to give the mayor all the credit for either the original promises or the difficulty in fulfilling them. (In many cases the news media played a significant role in puffing up our expectations.) Still, all of these projects are closely associated with the mayor's "vision" for Ogden, and the list is long enough to refute anyone's contention that these shortcomings are due merely to occasional bad luck, or to the recent economic downturn.
Here, then, are some of the facts that Mayor Godfrey's commentary didn't mention:
|"Construction on the ambitious river project, in the works since early 2001,|
should begin in 2005, with the recent approval of a developer's agreement between the Ogden Redevelopment Agency and Cottonwood Partners Management LTD." (January 16, 2004)
|Except for the Bingham's building, there has been no new construction in this 60-acre area. The residential blocks have been virtually abandoned and plagued by a|
series of arsons.
|"Done deal" according to a news article based on statements from the Ogden City administration (June 7, 2008).||Ernest missed its deadline to finalize the land purchase; property is back on the market.|
|"An Orem company plans to begin construction later this year on a $100 million hotel at The Junction downtown development." (January 10, 2008)||"Canceled".|
|"Construction is slated to begin in August and will last about 14 months." (May 24, 2007)||"It's off the table for now and for the foreseeable future."|
|"Construction on the Earnshaw Building is slated to start within a couple of months and end in about a year." (February 21, 2006)||Construction has slowed to a crawl. Signs in the windows promise that the first tenant, Deseret Books, will move in later this summer. The owner owes over $24,000 in delinquent property taxes.|
|Lease revenues from Boyer were projected to bring the city over $300,000 annually by 2010. The Ogden City administration was willing to pay Boyer to add two more floors to its office building because they "wouldn't have much difficulty leasing" the space (May 31, 2006).||Even at four stories, the office building is mostly unoccupied and its only tenants are those that moved from across the street. Overall, the Boyer properties have generated no lease revenue for the city and "there is not anticipated to be any in the near future."|
Junction Property Tax
|"In the year 2015 ... the redevelopment district expires and community entities begin receiving the full benefit of the tax income from The Junction." (Newspaper|
advertisement from mayor's office, May 31, 2007.)
|At the request of the Ogden City administration, the district's expiration date has been extended for an additional 12 years. Some taxing entities will receive partial "mitigation payments" during this time, but the rest will receive no tax revenue from the Junction.|
|"Ogden Properties ... is conservatively estimating the project to be finished by spring next year" (June 24, 2007). In a development agreement with the city, the building's owner pledged to comply with all "applicable rules, laws and ordinances".||After the city council declined to amend an ordinance to increase the height limit on 25th Street, the owner canceled the project and threatened to demolish the building.|
American Can Building
|Was to have housed Mt. Ogden Scientific, Fresenius Medical Care, and 1st Contact Technologies (April 23, 2005).||None of these "high tech" companies ever moved in. The building has been renovated and a portion is now occupied by Amer Sports, but much of the building remains vacant.|
|Promised to bring "hundreds of new jobs" (March 16, 2005).||The 55 Ogden employees were permanently laid off in January 2008. The company ceased operations soon thereafter, and its taxpayer-subsidized 91,000 square foot building is empty.|
Ryan McEuen Amphitheater
|"It is hoped that the amphitheater will open in 2008 to coincide with the completion of a commuter rail line... Patterson said." (September 10, 2006)||The site is still occupied by a landfill and a portion of it is posted for sale. Patterson says the city is "continuing to work" on the project, but McEuen says there is "no timeline for construction".|
Ice Climbing Tower
|"It will go up this year", said John Patterson (April 25, 2007).||$200,000 RAMP grant had to be returned to the county because matching funds were never raised.|
|"Campground for rock climbers may arrive soon in Ogden" (July 23, 2008).||Work on the campground began in September 2008 but abruptly ceased soon thereafter and has not resumed after nearly a year.|
|Mayor Godfrey "is hopeful that fundraising can be completed by the end of next year, enabling construction to be finished in 2011." He predicts that the city's contribution will need to be "more than $100,000". (September 6, 2008)||No funds have been raised yet for this $15 million project. The city's $2 million RAMP application was rejected in early 2009. The application promised that the city would contribute $2 million.|
|Supposedly open to the public for a $25 fee (November 18, 2005).||Never got a business license from the county.|
Malan's Basin Resort
|"The next few months will see trail work start on a new ski area entirely on private land at Malan's Basin which will be completed in time for the 2007 season" (Ski Press Magazine, August 19, 2005). Plans for the resort were to be made public by fall 2005.||Some ski routes have been cleared of trees and brush, but no other construction has taken place and no plans have been released.|
Reader comments are, of course, most welcome. Should other items be added to this list? How can we better understand the difficulties that the mayor has encountered in carrying out his vision? And most importantly, where should Ogden go from here?