OGDEN -- The city and the directors of St. Anne's Center agree it is time to move the homeless shelter from central Ogden to a location on Pacific Avenue, but St. Anne's officials are resisting a city effort to hold an Oct. 14 groundbreaking until they have details in writing.
City officials are chomping at the bit.
On Tuesday, Ogden's Chief Administrative Officer John Patterson told the Standard-Examiner a groundbreaking for the new homeless shelter was set for 11:30 a.m. Oct. 14.
He said Lt. Gov. Greg Bell would be invited and the city was helping raise funds for the new shelter, with a major donor already on board.
Asked about the groundbreaking, several St. Anne's officials, including Graham Lovelady, treasurer of the board of directors, said the board didn't know anything about it.
After several phone calls back and forth with St. Anne's officials, Patterson continued to insist Tuesday that a groundbreaking was scheduled.
After an emergency meeting Wednesday night, the St. Anne's board voted to tell Ogden to slow down.
Lovelady said Thursday the board wants a signed memorandum of understanding before it proceeds.
Lovelady declined to discuss details, but said the memorandum will include "basic stuff like, here's what we're going to do and here's what we expect the city to do. And it will include things about the land swap. We're still waiting for the environmental assessment."
The land swap is the city's proposal to trade St. Anne's current location, 137 W. Binford Ave., for several acres Ogden owns in the 3300 block of Pacific Avenue.
With memorandum in hand, Lovelady said, St. Anne's is willing to announce a fundraising drive, possibly on Oct. 14, but not a groundbreaking.
"We feel a groundbreaking means you're ready to start building right now," Lovelady said, and St. Anne's isn't ready to do that.
Both Mayor Matthew Godfrey and Patterson were out of town Thursday and Friday and could not be reached for additional comment.
Lovelady stressed that St. Anne's does want to move forward with the city.
"We really appreciate the mayor's enthusiasm. We just need to sit down and coordinate with him. We're not going to be pushed into something if we're not ready. We don't want anybody to think the mayor is pushing us into anything."
Lovelady said the move will mean "we can better serve our clients and we'll have more room and more capacity for families."
St. Anne's knows it has to move. The shelter dormatories, which can hold 80 men and 12 women, are full most nights, and it has only three rooms for families.
Jennifer Canter, the shelter director, said homeless families camp out in the parking lot, waiting for a vacancy. She's putting mats on the floor of the cafeteria so people can sleep inside.
The building also needs extensive renovation.
"That's our motivation," said Lovelady, "and if it meshes with the mayor, that's fine, as long as it meets the needs of our clients. That's why we're working with him."
St. Anne's transient shelter has been a burr in the side of Ogden officials since it was founded in 1982.
At the time, St. Anne's Center was just a soup kitchen in the former St. Joseph Elementary School at 28th Street and Lincoln Avenue.
In December 1982, the director, Doug Sliger, decided his customers were in danger of freezing to death and opened what he called the Mother Teresa Shelter in a vacant lumber store at 25th Street and Wall Avenue.
The shelter moved several times before its current location, on Binford, was built in 1992.
From the beginning, residents and businesses in Ogden blamed the shelter for hurting the town's image.
Although shelter managers insist those are not residents of St. Anne's, people looking for day labor jobs who stand on Wall Avenue near the shelter scare people going to Union Station.
Godfrey is pushing to move St. Anne's out of downtown as part of his effort to turn the city into an outdoor recreational hub. Two years ago, he suggested moving the center to 12th Street near Business Depot Ogden.
St. Anne's officials balked at the cost.
The current proposal is to trade St. Anne's lot for land in the 3300 block of Pacific Avenue with the city helping raise the money.
Patterson said Godfrey, in conjunction with United Way, has done his part.
"The city did sign on to be the fundraiser," Patterson said.
"The mayor was challenged by the St. Anne's board to do the fundraising. The mayor and Bob Hunter (director of United Way of Northern Utah) agreed, and to date, the mayor has done most of the fundraising."
Patterson declined to say how much has been raised, but said St. Anne's "is going to have to step up and do it (the groundbreaking) because we have funding."
Part of the push to hold a groundbreaking has nothing to do with St. Anne's.
In addition to working with St. Anne's, Ogden is also talking to Kier Corporation about building a separate, for-profit, 140-unit single-room occupancy complex adjacent to the new shelter.
The complex would house people now in the Kier-managed Marion Hotel on 25th Street. It would also provide housing for the chronically homeless, freeing emergency space in the homeless shelter.