North Ogden candidates zero in on development, public safety and water
NORTH OGDEN — Development looms as a big issue in the race for two seats on the North Ogden City Council.
But it’s not the only thing. Public safety and the planned new North Ogden Police Department building, water supplies and commercial development, among other things, also figure in the mix.
The four candidates are Blake Cevering, an incumbent, along with Stefanie Casey, Jay Dalpias and Spencer Stephens. The top two vote-getters after Nov. 2, when balloting culminates, will win the seats, and with just one incumbent running, there will be at least one new face on the City Council. Mail-in ballots should start arriving next week.
North Ogden Mayor Neal Berube is up for reelection, but he’s unopposed. Here’s a look at the four City Council hopefuls:
Jay Dalpias: Dalpias, chairman of North Ogden’s Economic Development Committee, an advisory body to the city, puts a big focus on spurring increased commercial development. He’s project manager for Ogden-based MarketStar.
Luring more businesses to the city’s main thoroughfares, Washington Boulevard and 2600 North, would help bolster sales tax funds coming into city coffers, tempering reliance on property taxes. “We haven’t utilized our potential commercial space as much as we could,” he said.
Growing the sales tax base would also create revenue that he thinks could be put to “fun things,” like improving the city’s parks and trail systems. While the city has a solid parks system, it’s lagging some other cities, he thinks.
Stylistically, he cited his ability to work with a diverse range of players. “I really have the ability to work across viewpoints and (with) different kinds of people,” he said.
The residents of North Ogden, he said, would be “my boss,” and public sentiments would be “top of mind” for him in the decision-making process as a council member.
He also touted the need to pursue “controlled growth.” He’d be “very careful” about allowing exceptions to existing zoning ordinances, say, to permit increased housing density. The actions of officials today, he said, have repercussions on generations to come.
Stefanie Casey: Development tops the list of important issues for Casey, who operates an audio company, Zu Audio, with her husband.
“The city is growing, for sure, and it’s going to continue to grow,” said Casey, a regular in the audience at North Ogden City Council meetings.
That doesn’t mean she’s happy with how that development has transpired. Some development projects haven’t always melded well with adjacent neighborhoods and she singled out the controversial Village at Prominence Point development, still taking shape.
“We just haven’t been smart in our development and our agreements with developers. … Village at Prominence Point is a perfect example,” she said. She calls for development that’s “smart, fair, balanced” and puts a focus on protecting natural resources.
The Village at Prominence Point has been a sore point for some, in part due to the developer’s proposal to alter a portion of Coldwater Creek to accommodate construction of three or four patio homes. Some residents inside, meanwhile, have complained that promised amenities like swimming pools haven’t yet been developed.
Communication between city leaders and residents is also important for Casey. “I would love to see improvement in communication with the community and how the city is communicating with the community,” she said.
Spencer Stephens: Public safety is the big issue for Stephens, who owns three businesses — homebuilding, cabinet-making and excavation firms.
“I know hiring and retaining officers has been an issue statewide and nationwide, and North Ogden is no different there,” he said.
Accordingly, making sure officers have the training and equipment they need is important. He favors construction of the new police department structure. “It’s important we have a place for police officers to go back to and recharge,” he said.
Likewise, he said the public needs to work more cooperatively with police, let them know when something’s amiss. “Let’s help them do their job more effectively,” he said.
Maintaining city infrastructure, notably the culinary water system, is also important, he said, noting that some sections of pipeline are aging, which has led to a number of water main breaks. Money needs to be put into the system to keep it in good shape, and funds may also be needed for pumps to pull water from new city wells.
He called for a “balanced approach” in managing growth. Protecting property owners’ rights is big for him, notably the rights of owners of some of the large open agricultural parcels that remain in North Ogden so they “can get fair-market value on their property,” he said.
Blake Cevering: Cevering, a real estate broker, said public safety is a priority issue for him. He favors plans to build the new police department building and said the city has put requests out for proposals to private developers.
“First off, we want to make sure the policemen and policewomen have a facility that is comfortable for them. We want them to feel safe,” he said. One notable defect of the current aging structure, he and others say, is that it doesn’t contain a proper holding cell for detainees.
The drought is a concern, as well as assuring a long-term supply of drinking water for the city. Water officials say the city has “plenty” of supplies for now, but the drought underscores the need to dig more wells “just in case,” he said, and provide the funding that would be needed for pumping structures to tap the water.
Given the declining level of Pineview Reservoir, source of secondary irrigation water for many around Weber County, he thinks the city might have to take a look at encouraging more xeriscaping to safeguard supplies.
Cevering favors term limits, he said. But on the other hand, he also thinks he’s garnered some valuable insights in his first term on the City Council. “I feel like now that I’ve gotten my feet on the ground, I can be even more successful in a second term,” he said.
Cevering was the top vote-getter in last August’s primary, followed by Dalpias, Casey and Stephens. Three others were eliminated from contention in that vote.