OGDEN -- The Weber County RAMP tax advisory board refused Monday to recommend awarding $2.4 million over five years toward construction of a multipurpose field house in downtown Ogden.
RAMP board members said a grant application submitted by Mayor Matthew Godfrey's administration is incomplete because it failed to demonstrate the city has secured needed property or financial backers for the $40 million project.
Godfrey, who did not attend the RAMP board meeting, said the group's decision was unexpected.
"We were surprised by the decision of the RAMP committee, but we still believe in the value of this project to the community," he said in an e-mail to the Standard-Examiner.
The city's administration sought the RAMP grant as a "gold seal of approval" to persuade private donors to also contribute, said Ogden Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson.
"It's difficult when we don't have the perceived support of the community," he said.
Still, the city's administration will continue to solicit contributions from donors for the field house, said Patterson.
The city administration's only monetary "skin in the game" is $38,000 spent on a field house feasibility study, said Mike Caldwell, Weber County's RAMP Grant program manager.
The RAMP board's recommendation not to fund the field house will be forwarded to the Weber County Commission, which will have the final say in March whether any money will be awarded. The county commissioners have never overruled the RAMP board's recommendations, Caldwell said.
RAMP board member Jeanne Hall said Monday she opposed a request from Godfrey that the administration be given six months to obtain commitments from donors and to secure land for the field house, saying the extension wouldn't be fair to other grant applicants.
Hall also questioned whether the field house's 60,000-square-foot indoor water park, Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, running track and velodrome would attract enough patrons to financially sustain the facility.
She also said some Ogden City Council members object to the field house's proposed location in the southwest quadrant of 24th Street and Kiesel Avenue.
A portion of Grant Avenue would be closed between 24th and 25th streets, and most of the buildings between Grant and Kiesel would be demolished for the field house, according to the project's feasibility study.
City Councilwoman Susie Van Hooser said she shares the RAMP board's concerns about the field house proposal.
"I'm not saying this is a bad project, but something like this takes time to get together," she said. "It's not just financing the project, it's also what requirements would the city have for ongoing upkeep."
RAMP grant funding comes from a tax approved by Weber County voters in 2004 that allows the county to impose a local sales tax of one-tenth of 1 percent, which is 1 cent on a $10 sale, to improve recreation, arts, museums and parks.
The $2.4 million sought from the RAMP board is half of what Godfrey had initially requested for the field house.
Ogden officials asked for $500,000 in 2009 and $3 million over six years in 2010 for the field house. The requests weren't approved, because the RAMP board believed there were too many unanswered questions, such as how associated costs would be funded.
While rejecting the city administration's request, the RAMP board recommended that projects proposed by Marriott-Slaterville-West Haven, Plain City, the Ogden School Foundation and Weber County School District receive funding.
Major RAMP projects recommended for funding:
* Marriott-Slaterville-West Haven, $449,000, Ogden-Weber Parkway extension.
* Plain City, $150,000, Pioneer Park improvements.
* Ogden School Foundation, $332,000, Performing Arts Center.
* Weber County School District, $100,000, tennis courts.
This topic is being discussed at The Weber County Forum.