NORTH OGDEN -- The city is looking at making its parks and trails committee a nonprofit group and then having it be the managing entity for Barker Park on Fruitland Drive.
The city has been trying to ensure that Barker Park will never be used for anything other than a park, which has been at issue since this spring, when the city started considering using part of the park for a public works building.
The Barker family, who sold the 35-plus acres to the city in 1999, showed an agreement the family had made with the city for the land to be used only as a park, but the agreement had never been recorded by the city.
City Attorney Dave Carlson said legally reattaching the deed could be difficult, so he has researched other ways to make it work and believes a conservation easement will be the best thing.
The way it works is the city creates a nonprofit group and then allocates the park to the group under a conservation easement that protects the city and the park, Carlson said.
"The city conveys in the easement uses agreed upon," Carlson said.
He has overseen such easements in other cities and said features like guided trails, parkland, wildlife habitats and waterways are usually included.
Carlson said the city could manage the entity or it could be turned over to the state, which would institute a fee.
City council members like the idea of the city still having some jurisdiction.
Carlson said the advantage of the parks and trails committee having such a designation would be allowing for the group to apply for grants so things could start getting updated at the park, something the city has wanted to do for over a decade but hasn't had the money to do.
The way the city would still have limited control is that city employees or council members would sit on the board of the nonprofit group.
City council members wanted to make sure the easement would make it so there would never be any questions in coming years that the park is designated for only park use.
Carlson said the easement is the best way to ensure that.
Councilwoman Martha Harris is impressed with the idea, saying, "It sounds like an excellent tool for us."
She asked whether it would provide protection for the park and the family's trust or just create more bureaucracy.
Carlson said it would be less bureaucracy in the long run.
Councilman Wade Bigler suggested the city find a way to attach the family's deed to the easement. Carlson said he wasn't sure how that would work, but that the easement would be recorded at the county recorder's office and be a permanent record.
The council will vote on the easement and allocation of the parks and trails committee within the next month.