OGDEN -- Even amid the sea of junk that litters the yards of boarded-up homes throughout the Ogden River Project area, the red boat shipwrecked on the front lawn of 1862 Childs Ave. was a duck out of water.
Someone with a sense of humor painted "SS Menow" near the stern, which may be a sardonic nod to the SS Minnow, the boat at the center of the 1960s television sitcom "Gilligan's Island."
But like the lyrics from the show's catchy theme song that laments tough living conditions for the desert isle's seven castaways, the appearance of Ogden River Project properties is as "primitive as can be."
Twisted strands of wire ripped out of an abandoned house by brazen thieves in search of valuable copper lie in a heap in the 1800 block of Kiesel Avenue, just a few feet from the Ogden River.
A few doors down, a leaf-strewn mattress lying in a yard has become home to numerous feral cats. Bags of trash and discarded construction material also are abundant.
The boat parked on the Childs Avenue property was hauled away Friday by the city and taken to the Weber County transfer station.
It's unfortunate that parts of the Ogden River Project, a proposed 60-acre retail and residential development that straddles the river from 18th to 20th streets and Washington Boulevard to Wall Avenue, have become a dumping ground, said Alene Evans, the city's code enforcement supervisor.
"This doesn't need to be here," she said earlier this week while standing near debris left outside an abandoned home on Kiesel Avenue. "Once a pile is started, it gets added to."
The identities of those dumping rubbish are unknown.
"We don't track those who are responsible for discarding stuff," Evans said.
Vacant parcels like those in the Ogden River Project area are often a magnet for litterbugs who want to avoid landfill tipping fees, said Keith Morey, the city's community development manager.
"They are too lazy and don't want to take (debris) to the landfill," he said, adding that litterers who are caught are fined.
Ogden Riverfront Development, a company with ties to developer Gadi Leshem, is the largest landholder in the Ogden River Project area with 42 parcels, according to Weber County property records.
Four other parcels in the project area are owned by trust named after Leshem's wife, Miri, and daughter, Mori.
Leshem was contacted by phone Friday, but declined to comment on the property owned by Ogden Riverfront Development.
The city's Building Inspection Department recently completed an inventory to determine the condition of properties and boarded-up homes in the project area, Morey said.
Efforts to keep the area free of litter have been hampered because Ogden Riverfront Development has had four property maintenance companies quit in the last two years, said John Patterson, the city's chief administrative officer.
"You would think someone who has a contract would want to keep it because there isn't an overabundance of work out there," Patterson said Friday.
It would cost the city $142 per house just to mow each lawn, making it far too expensive for the city to clean up the entire project area, Evans said. "If the city had to pay, it couldn't do it."
Morey said the city hasn't levied any code enforcement penalties against Ogden Riverfront Development because the company plans to hire a new property maintenance firm in the next few weeks.
Related link: This article is a topic of discussion at Weber County Forum.