NORTH OGDEN -- Emotions ran high Tuesday night as city officials went over plans to expand Monroe Boulevard.
The city received a $2 million grant in December from Weber County for land acquisition along the boulevard that is already developed in spots through the city. The city's master plan calls for the street to be a major collector, along with Mountain Road and Washington, in the next 30 years.
Residents voiced their concerns about the expansion in January, as did City Councilman Wade Bigler, who originally voted to accept the money in December, but changed his mind once he realized the city didn't have to go along with the plan.
Also in January, City Manager Ron Chandler said he would look into some options to mitigate safety and speed concerns.
He mentioned the idea of making the actual driving space smaller -- two driving lanes north and south, a turning lane and a wide park strip with trees, plus a traffic circle.
He also suggested that the council could make the zoning single-family only, which would eliminate apartments in the area.
Once the presentation was complete, area residents expressed concern over the expansion. Discussion became heated to the point that Mayor Richard Harris threatened to end the meeting early if random applause, cheers and shouts didn't subside.
Residents voiced the same concerns expressed in January regarding safety for children attending three elementary schools near the proposed road. The speed of vehicles along the road was also an issue. Residents said speeds would still be too fast, even if road-calming devices were constructed.
Increased crime was also a major concern among residents.
Many also spoke about lifestyles being changed if that access to Ogden city is opened.
"I've got to be careful here. I'm not prejudiced, but we do live here for a reason," Bigler said regarding crime and what kind of people would move to North Ogden if the road is expanded.
Resident Mary Beus said she moved to North Ogden to raise her family in a safe environment.
"I used to live in Ogden. I know a little bit about what Ogden is all about," she said, becoming emotional. "You are taking my dream away."
Resident Phil Swanson cautioned residents to be careful about what they say.
"There is an ugly shadow lurking when we say things like what kind of people and what kind of income people should have in North Ogden ... if that's what we are worried about, our problem is much bigger than Monroe Boulevard," Swanson said.
Bigler suggested the city look at other options and not spend the money from the county.
"I feel like we have tunnel vision here. Why can't we look at other options than the ones brought up 30 years ago?" he asked.
Harris said the master plan was updated in 2009 and those who did the traffic study at that time looked at several options.
"We haven't had tunnel vision," he said.
City Councilman Brent Taylor suggested the city look at other options and possibly create a committee with some residents to investigate those options. He said the Monroe Boulevard expansion may be the only solution at the conclusion of the research.
Chandler said the city will look further into those options and forming a committee during the summer.