NORTH OGDEN — As the Village at Prominence Point project proceeds and development encroaches on Coldwater Creek, Spencer Alexander worries what will happen if no one does anything to safeguard the waterway.
“It’ll just be a ditch,” he worries, and become an eyesore that no one wants to look at. “Everyone will just slap up a fence.”
The creek, which meanders from Coldwater Canyon on the east side of North Ogden west through the city, has been largely neglected over the years some say, at least around Village at Prominence Point — the massive housing development taking shape off Washington Boulevard. Some portions of the stream are covered in North Ogden, though it’s exposed west of Washington Boulevard along 1900 North and on the west side of Village at Prominence Point.
“It’s pretty degraded. There are a lot of weeds,” said Paul Burnett, Utah Water Project Biologist with Trout Unlimited in Ogden and an informal advisor to the residents around Coldwater Creek.
Last year, the sudden appearance of a milky white substance in the creek, which just as quickly disappeared, prompted alarm among some. Burnett noted the proximity of homes in a series of written observations to Coldwater Creek advocates, which he said, “puts the waterway at risk to pollution from dumping, herbicides and garbage.” Developers, moreover, “didn’t do a great job of reclaiming the creek.”
Accordingly, Alexander and others from the area and elsewhere in North Ogden have banded together, aiming to raise consciousness about the creek and do what they can to preserve it as a coldwater stream. Coldwater streams contain water that’s cold enough to sustain creatures like trout, which live in Coldwater Creek, according to Alexander. Burnett, meanwhile, said the presence of such a waterway is an anomaly so far from the mountains of Weber County.
Creek advocates carried out a cleanup effort, pulling debris from Coldwater Creek on the western side of Village at Prominence Point and a new assisted-living facility south of that, The Lodge at North Ogden. Alexander and others have also met with city leaders, voicing concerns about the possibility of runoff entering the creek from the new development and a nearby dog park that’s in the works.
Burnett has offered suggestions on maintaining Coldwater Creek. In the area abutting the Lodge at North Ogden and Village at Prominence Point, he proposes proper treatment of runoff, development setbacks and placement of a terraced bank, among other things.
That would take funds and planning, though, and for now no definitive plan of action has emerged.
The developers of Village at Prominence Point and the Lodge at North Ogden haven’t included any specific measures with regard to the creek in their development plans, according to Jon Call, the North Ogden city administrator. A path has been partially built on the east side of the creek there, between the waterway and the development, and Call said it’s to be extended further north to 1900 North. City officials, moreover, have asked the concerned neighbors to reach out to city parks officials and come up with a possible plan of action.
Alexander, for his part, just doesn’t want efforts to revitalize the waterway to fizzle.
“That would be a missed opportunity,” he said. He’d like a fix balancing aesthetics and keeping the stream in as natural a state as possible.
‘A REAL GEM’
Some of the Coldwater Creek advocates gathered recently at the stream, touting its attributes and the potential. One of them, Ryan Spelts, brought cat food to drop in the water as a lure for trout.
“This is a real gem in a city that’s growing so fast,” said Julie Anderson, a candidate this cycle for the North Ogden City Council.
Burnett said preservation efforts would be easier now than waiting a generation to act.
With the sound of hammering coming from the nearby Village at Prominence Point development, Dale Anderson, Julie Anderson’s husband, warned about the upshot of doing nothing. “I don’t want it to become a concrete irrigation ditch that is just sterile,” he said.