by Dan Schroeder
On March 10, the Standard-Examiner reported that this year’s Weber County RAMP grant recipients had been chosen and approved. But the article gave few details on the many approved projects, and said nothing about the proposals that were rejected.
For those who are curious, here is the full list of recreation, art, museum, and park proposals funded this year by RAMP using the 1/10 cent sales tax that we approved in 2004. The list includes trails, playground equipment, exhibits, concerts, and a variety of other projects totaling over $1.8 million. RAMP also allocated $239,000 in non-competitive “municipal grants” to the county and its municipalities, according to a formula based on population. Each municipality can use its municipal grant to reimburse costs of any eligible projects.
Ogden City submitted eight proposals for competitive RAMP grants, summarized in the table below.
As you can see, only two of these eight proposals were funded by RAMP, and neither of those was funded in its entirety. In addition, Ogden can use its municipal grant of $82,865 for any RAMP-eligible projects.
Ogden’s two funded proposals are both for park enhancements along the river parkways. First, the city will develop a 2.6-acre off-leash dog park in Miles Goodyear Park, along the Weber River Parkway on the west side of town. Second, the city will create an “adventure park” of unusual children’s playground equipment along the Ogden River Parkway near Lincoln Ave., in the River Project area.
The city’s RAMP applications (linked above) for these two funded projects are strikingly different. The dog park proposal provides a vividly detailed site plan and budget, corroborated by an outside architect. Even so, less than half of this proposal ($60,000 out of $124,048) was funded. The adventure park proposal, on the other hand, provides no site plan and no documentation of the expected costs. It does include a brief budget that itemizes site preparation and fencing, but two thirds of the budget is in a single line item titled “play structures”. These are described in the text of the proposal simply as “cable rope play structures which are connected using rope bridges and zip lines” surrounded by “inverted climbing rocks”. There are no illustrations of this equipment, no price quotes, and not even a named vendor. Given this vagueness, I’m surprised that RAMP has approved $155,000 in funding (nearly 80% of the requested amount) for this project.
The city’s unfunded proposals are equally interesting, as they give us a glimpse of the administration’s current goals and priorities.
The Outdoor Classroom/Sustainable Energy Demonstration Project would be an enhancement to the USU Extension Botanical Gardens at the MTC Park. The proposed budget includes $50,000 for the outdoor classroom and $150,000 for energy demonstration equipment including a solar array, wind turbine, and hydroelectric generator. This appears to be a serious but high-cost proposal.
The Ogden City Snow Park proposal, on the other hand, is not ready for prime time. The intent is to create a winter recreation area on the city’s property along Park Blvd. near Madison, just south of the Ogden River. (I think this is the site that was formerly intended for the “high adventure campground”.) The snow park would offer sledding, tubing, snowboarding, and skiing, with a rope tow system and tube rentals. But the details are far from clear. The city’s application includes no site plan, no documentation of the expected $100,000 in costs, and no operating budget. It doesn’t even say whether snow park users would be charged a fee.
Three smaller proposals were also rejected. One is for portable snowmaking equipment to be used for events such as the recent WinterFest. A second is to put a roof over one of the river parkway bridges, to give it that quaint New England look. And a third is for the annual Paddle Festival at Pineview Reservoir.
Last but certainly not least is the city’s audacious request for $3 million, over six years, for the proposed “field house”. This is essentially the same as last year’s rejected velodrome proposal. New twists include a “field floor” that can be used for indoor soccer, basketball, and other sports; two adjacent outdoor soccer fields; a mezzanine fitness track; and a Boys & Girls Club activity area. The proposed location is now on a wedge of land between 20th and 21st Streets west of Wall Ave., currently owned by Ogden Mall Development Co. of Chatsworth, California (probably associated with Gadi Leshem). Despite the enhancements over last year’s proposal and the additional $900,000 cost of acquiring this land, the project’s total cost has somehow dropped from $15 million to $12 million. And whereas last year’s proposal included a two-page itemized budget, this year’s much shorter budget lumps the entire construction cost into a single $10.5 million line item. There is, however, one important similarity between this year’s proposal and last year’s: neither provides any evidence that the city can raise the millions of dollars of additional needed funds.
So once again, the RAMP application process has been both productive and informative. Undoubtedly, readers will have their own opinions on the quality of the city’s application materials, and on which projects were worthy of funding and why.
The floor is now open for any and all such comments.
The floor is now open for any and all such comments.