Temple crowds a challenge for Ogden locals

Friday , August 01, 2014 - 9:47 PM

Ogden Temple open house parking map

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Ogden’s population is expected to increase by three-quarters of a million people during the next month, and while those temporary residents will pack the city’s downtown, officials say the crowds shouldn’t discourage locals from joining the horde.

Downtown Ogden was noticeably busier Friday, as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began what will be a five-week open house period for the newly renovated Ogden temple. The open house will run until Sept. 6, and the temple will be open for visitors each day of the week except Sunday.

The city expects at least 750,000 visitors to converge on the downtown area during the next five weeks, which means restaurants and other businesses in The Junction and along 25th Street will be busier, parking will be harder to come by and local streets and traffic patterns will be rerouted.

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The city has approximately 3,700 parking stalls within a 10-minute walk of the temple. Currently two open lots to the north and east of the temple are available for parking throughout the event and an additional unfinished lot north of the FrontRunner parking area is also available for overflow parking. The city also expects parking garages near The Junction to take some of the temple overflow.

Hoping to preserve precious vehicle parking space, the city is running a dowtown trolley from the Ogden FrontRunner station, 2350 S. Wall Ave. The trolley offers pedestrians multiple drop-off locations within the downtown area and circulates through 23rd Street, Washington Boulevard, 24th Street, 25th Street and Wall Avenue.

The shuttle will run in a continuous loop Monday through Saturday, from the morning to the evening.

During the open house, the city will close 22nd Street between Washington Boulevard and Grant Avenue to pedestrians and buses only. Grant Avenue was originally planned to become a one way street between 24th and 20th streets, but the city has opened up the street in both directions. Left-hand turns are also prohibited at several intersections near the temple.

Downtown restaurants are expected to be packed during the open house. City officials met with about 40 restaurants in Ogden and encouraged them to focus on items they know they can turn quickly and won't run out of. The restaurants have also been asked to work with their suppliers to ensure they don’t run out of anything during the rush.

While admitting there will be some adjustments, city officials say the impacts aren’t so overwhelming that they should stop locals from visiting their own downtown. 

“We’ve worked hard to accommodate traffic and parking,” said Ogden Engineer Justin Anderson. “Locals can expect to see a lot of increased traffic right around the temple, but we think it should flow pretty well. People should still be able to get around downtown, go to Raptors games, go out to eat and just do the things they normally do.”

The city has created an interactive map that provides real-time updates on traffic patterns and parking availability. The map can be found at engineering.ogdencity.com.

Mayor Mike Caldwell and Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said they hope Ogden locals will frequent downtown during the open house and interact with the thousands of guests visiting the community.

“I don’t think any (local) should be shy about coming down here,” Johnson said. “There are a lot of fun things going on — fun things to see, fun things to do. Come join in the excitement.”

Though the activities hadn’t quite ramped up to full capacity, Ogden residents walking near the temple Friday morning were eager to offer opinions about the swarm on their streets. Some liked feeling the buzz surrounding the activity that has sprung up seemingly overnight, while others say they plan to avoid the area altogether.

“I think it’s pretty cool, seeing all these people in Ogden,” said Ogden resident Leonor Solano. “It just seems like it’s a big deal.”

Ogden residents Dominique Pena and Delmy Ortiz said they see both positives and negatives about the open house.

“I guess it’s good and bad,” said Pena. “It’s cool new people are coming into our city and seeing it, but it also might be a hassle going out to eat or to a movie or something.”

Directly across the street from the temple on Washington Boulevard, Ogden resident Russell Carver watched crowds gather.

“I don’t know,” he said while scoping out the swarm across the street. “Five weeks of this? I’ll probably just avoid this area all together.”

Carver said he actually worked for a few days on the temple’s landscaping as a subcontractor.

“They were painting some of the dead grass green,” he said. “It was pretty wild.”

The temple was closed in April 2011 for extensive renovation. Its entire exterior has been reshaped with new stone and glass, and the temple entrance has been moved from the west side to the east side, where it faces Washington Boulevard.

The renovation of the temple also includes reconfigured rooms and new energy-saving electrical, heating and plumbing systems. Other notable improvements include underground parking, new landscaping of the temple block and a major water feature.

After the open house, the temple will be formally rededicated in three sessions on Sept. 21, at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.




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Temple tour volunteers keep lines of visitors moving

Friday , August 22, 2014 - 5:37 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Walking 27,000 volunteer ushers through 135,000 volunteer hours during the ongoing Ogden LDS Temple open house has been and continues to be no small task.

“We like to jokingly refer to every four hours six days a week as Groundhog Day,” said Bonnie King of South Ogden, co-chairwoman of the usher committee for the temple open hous,e along with her husband, Mike King.

“We also joke (that) by the time Sept. 6 comes, we will have figured it all out,” she said.

King said getting 2,000 people an hour through the temple was the goal.

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“We are over 300,000 now,” she said. “To get to 500,000 people through, we have to keep the line moving.”

A media tour of the training efforts for a shift of volunteers who would serve as ushers for five hours included watching the training of these volunteers.

Mike King urged the volunteers who were taking over just after noon to listen well to the advice of those who had taken their same places before the 8 a.m. tours began.

“Can you imagine any government organization run by people who have four and a half hours of experience?” he said to the volunteers. “But you are in an organization run by our master, so we are going to be OK.” 

He also urged the volunteers to stay in the places where they would be assigned to be, noting that every position had been painstakingly positioned by those who planned the open house.

“Stand your ground. Follow the President (Dieter F.) Uchtdorf’s counsel and lift where you stand,” he said, quoting the first counselor in the first presidency of the LDS Church.

He urged the volunteers to be happy as they served. 

“This is your opportunity to represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Ogden’s Temple Square,” he said.

“This should be the most important five hours of your life as far as they are concerned.”

He told the volunteers that they would get to comment on a little white dress or a future missionary tag small visitors at the open house would be wearing.

Polly Petersen of Farr West also was a speaker at the orientation. She talked about when her sister-in-law, who was named Joy, died more than a decade ago and the bereaved children began to spend a great deal of time in her home.

Petersen said she and the children at first would talk about what they “got” to do.

“We decided to change the ’o’ to and ’e’,” she said, making their conversations about what they “get” to do.

“We get to serve our Heavenly Father with all our hearts,” she said to the volunteers. “We get to be members of this church.”

Petersen urged the volunteers to remember that 55 percent of how a person communicates is visual.

She told them to remember to smile.

“It’s so important that we reflect that light of Christ in our eyes,” she said.

Coalville resident Cordell Hull would be spending his time helping those with special needs, including washing the wheels on wheelchairs that had been outside and were coming back inside the temple.

Hull said before starting that he was honored to be helping out in any way he could, calling his efforts a thrill and a blessing.

“Anything to do with the latter-day work is a privilege and a blessing,” he said. “It’s never a burden. It’s always a privilege.”

While the noon group of ushers Friday was all from Coalville, the 8 a.m. shift was all from Evanston, Wyoming, which also is in the Ogden Temple district.

Ryan Richins of Evanston, Wyoming said the many members of his stake were excited to come and fill the 8 a.m. shift.

“We got up at 4 a.m.,” he said. “It was great.”

Richins served as a crossing guard for those who parked in a lot north of the temple.

He noticeably enjoyed asking all who crossed by him where they had come from.

Lisa Foust, also of Evanston, said she lived in the Ogden area until she moved away in seventh grade and was so excited to see the changes all around the temple during her visit.

“This feels so amazing,” she said. “It feels like Temple Square in Salt Lake City.”

Foust was positioned outside the temple by the fountain. Half way through her shift, she said she already had taken nearly 100 pictures of groups who had come together to the temple.

She said she was happy to help them so they could get everyone with them in their pictures.

You may reach JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at JaNaeFrancisSE. Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis.

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People aren't using the Ogden temple trolley

Wednesday , August 13, 2014 - 2:12 PM

Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — A week and a half into the 37-day phenomenon that is the Ogden temple open house, the city says parking space isn’t an issue, but perhaps the use of public transportation is.

A five-week open house period for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ newly renovated Ogden temple began Aug. 1. The open house will run until Sept. 6, with the temple open for visitors each day of the week except Sunday.

After an evaluation of the initial traffic flow for the open house, city officials say parking space, which was expected to be at a premium, is wide open. The city also says traffic around the temple is flowing nicely. The city has closed 22nd Street between Washington Boulevard and Grant Avenue to regular traffic and is open to only pedestrians and buses. Grant was originally planned to become a one-way street between 24th and 20th streets, but the city has opened up the street in both directions after analyzing traffic on the first day of the open house. 

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“So far, parking hasn’t been an issue and traffic is moving without much delay around the temple block,” said City Engineer Justin Anderson. “We haven’t had any issues with people accessing any of our restaurants or retail stores.”

The city has approximately 3,700 parking stalls within a 10-minute walk of the temple. Currently, two open lots to the north and east of the temple are available for parking throughout the event, and an additional unfinished lot north of the FrontRunner parking area is also available for overflow parking. The city has also made parking garages near The Junction available for any overflow parking.

Most of the temple parking has been easily handled by the closest lots. 

“A lot of people are carpooling and bringing big groups in one car,” Anderson said. “So that’s worked out pretty well.”

The city has also established a downtown trolley and shuttle service that offers multiple drop-off locations within the downtown area.

The route circulates from 21st Street through the Junction and over to 25th Street. The trolley runs Monday through Saturday and picks up every 30 minutes or less, but Anderson said the service has not been getting the kind of numbers Ogden initially hoped for.

“The numbers aren’t as high on the trolley as we would like to see,” he said. “Which means the numbers on FrontRunner aren’t as high, either. But we’ve still got a lot of time left, so we’d encourage people to use FrontRunner and then use the trolley to get around town.”

As the city tries to become a more walkable and bikable community, Anderson said citizens using public transit for events like the temple open house is part of the city’s vision.

“That’s why we have this (service) available,” he said. “We want people to use it.”

Throughout the five-week open house period, the city expects 750,000 visitors to come to Ogden. So far, the city estimates that an average of 20,000 visitors have been showing up to the temple each day. The numbers are different every day, but the city doesn’t expect total visitation for one day to exceed 30,000.

LDS Church spokesman Cody Craynor said the church doesn’t have any official numbers on how many people have visited the temple so far.

“We don’t keep a running tab on attendance like you’d see at a sporting event or something like that,” Craynor said. “We’ve always used the total number of open house reservations (as an estimate of how many people will come through the temple).” 

Craynor said well over 600,000 reservations have been made so far.

Contact reporter Mitch Shaw at 801-625-4233 or mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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