NORTH OGDEN -- The Barker family has found two agreements stating the city agreed to not build anything on the Barker Park land, but the problem is that neither document was recorded by the city.
The issue has come into question because the city has proposed building a 7-acre public works facility at the park. The Barker family reminded Mayor Richard Harris of the agreement, of which he said he was aware but had no written history of it.
The agreement and sale was conducted in 1999 for 35 acres of land. The Barker family sold the land at a significant discount to the city with the understanding the land wouldn't be developed for anything other than a park, said Steve Barker, son of Lorna and Carl Barker, who sold the land. Their son remembers the dealings well.
"When Dad sold the property, there was paperwork and lawyers and days and days of concern and consideration," Steve Barker said in Tuesday night's city council meeting. He is bewildered as to why the city doesn't have the documents his family has and why those documents were not recorded.
It now appears to be a thorn in the side for both parties.
"I was hoping they would just take these papers and attach it to the deed, but that doesn't appear to be what's going to happen," Barker said. "It bothers me."
Harris said originally when he and City Councilwoman Martha Harris and former Councilman Jed Musgrave talked with the family last week, they thought they could just attach an addendum to the current deed stating that nothing but a park would be built on the land. After conferring with City Attorney Dave Carlson, however, that doesn't seem to be possible.
"We can't go back on something that has already been done," Mayor Harris said.
The city is looking into other options that would make an agreement viable and would stand the test of time, but it is turning out to be a difficult process.
Barker doesn't understand why it is so difficult when he has the paperwork from 1999 in his possession.
Lorna Barker spoke to the issue at the city council meeting.
"I just keep asking myself, 'Why did I sign those papers if they are not going to count for anything?'" she said with emotion. "We just want to live in our quiet community the way it was supposed to be."
"We tried to do everything in our power to make sure this wouldn't happen," Steve Barker told the council and the huge crowd gathered at the meeting.
One option is to have the parks and trails committee become a nonprofit subsidiary of the city, which can then grant the "only a park" distinction to Barker Park through the parks and trails committee.
Mayor Harris doesn't know if that will work at this point, though, and is working with the city's attorney to figure the best route. At any rate, Harris said, he wants the agreement to stand the test of time.
Barker agreed, saying, "We don't want to have to worry about this ever again."