Pesky land-use provision removed from final national defense bill

Wednesday , December 13, 2017 - 5:00 AM

CATHY MCKITRICK, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — Amid fiery talk about military preparedness, President Donald Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act at the White House Tuesday. And Northern Utah residents can breathe a sigh of relief knowing the provision that could have forced the Ogden Nature Center to relocate was yanked from the final legislation.

Lee Lonsberry, communications director for Congressman Rob Bishop, confirmed Tuesday the offending provision had been removed during the Senate-House conference process. According to GovTrack.us, HR 2810 authorized the appropriation of $695.9 billion for national defense.

This past July, the notion that the Nature Center’s 152 acres could lose open-space protections due to a deal Ogden City administrators brokered with Bishop’s office caused quite a stir.

RELATED: Attempt to change land status of Ogden Nature Center, Fairgrounds rouses ire

That mid-summer negotiation was Ogden City’s rushed attempt to compete for a new Stadler Rail train assembly facility that could settle into Business Depot Ogden’s west side on 20 acres between the Ogden Nature Center and the Golden Spike Events Center. But Ogden ultimately withdrew that bid and Stadler Rail later chose to build their $50 million facility in Salt Lake City.

The BDO area in question had been set aside for recreational use when the federal government transferred the old Defense Depot Ogden property — a Superfund site in need of extensive cleanup — to the city in the 1970s.

On Tuesday, Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell said he’d had no recent conversations with Bishop’s office about the provision’s removal from the final bill. But in July, he said his office lacked control over the amendment’s broad language after their request went to Congress.

In late July, Steve Petersen, counsel to Bishop, promised the amendment would get extracted when HR 2810 went to conference committee this fall to reconcile changes made by the House and Senate. Petersen said its insertion came at Ogden’s request as it sought to bring new 1,000 jobs into the city, but the haste in which that was done caused a lot of problems. 

RELATED: In hindsight, tight deadline doomed Ogden's bungled Stadler Rail bid

The Ogden Nature Center, created in 1975, serves as an invigorating and educational slice of nature within Ogden’s urban setting. The center signed a 50-year land lease with Ogden City about two years ago.

Contact reporter Cathy McKitrick at 801-625-4214 or cmckitrick@standard.net. Follow her on Twitter at @catmck.

 

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