NORTH OGDEN — Officials have cut the controversial proposal for a public wading pond from plans for a stormwater detention basin in an undeveloped field near 2300 North in North Ogden.
Some neighbors had rallied against the pond plans, worried about the possibility of a drowning. And the North Ogden City Council voted 3-2 to remove the recreational pond element from the proposal, mindful of such concerns and others.
Councilman Ryan Barker, who voted no, said Wednesday, a day after the decision, that his big concern was the possible impact of developing the sandy pond to the neighborhood around the site. He investigated similar ponds in Herriman and Springville, and said the quantity of visitors each draws can wreak havoc on surrounding residential areas.
With just 60 or so parking spots proposed in conjunction with the North Ogden pond, traffic would “be spilling out into the neighborhood,” he said Wednesday.
Barker knows of three drownings that have occurred at the Herriman facility and said such concerns also factored in the no vote. Many kids play on the streets, sidewalks and open fields in the neighborhood and the four-foot-deep pond, as envisioned, would have been unattended by a lifeguard when open.
“We are extremely grateful and relieved about the beach being nixed,” Nelli Mangel, a neighbor who had lobbied against the wading pond, said in an email.
Now, City Administrator Jon Call said he will pursue creation of a revised proposal that includes a grassy park, a detention basin to collect stormwater and other overflow water and a fenced-off irrigation pond, inaccessible to the public. Pineview Water Systems seeks the irrigation pond in conjunction with the project to provide secondary water to homes in the growing area.
In light of the change in plans, Call also needs to make contact with the owner of the 6.6-acre plot of land in question, Double Ott Ranch, “and see what he’s OK with.” The city plans to acquire the land from Double Ott as part of the proposal while developers are planning town homes in some of the land adjacent to the location.
The change eliminating the recreational pond could boost the cost of developing the site for the city. Per the original proposal, with the wading pond, the project had an estimated price tag of $7.13 million, with the city responsible for $1.7 million of that, a federal grand covering $4.4 million and other sources covering the rest.
It’s not clear if the federal grant will still be available without the public pond, and if it isn’t, the cost to the city could rise to $3.94 million, according to Call. By eliminating the wading pond, the city will already lose out on a $100,000 state grant.
The city needs the location to develop a new detention basin — between 2550 North and 2150 North near the city limits with Harrisville — because it is selling the land off 2700 North where another detention basin now sits so it can be developed.
Call had recommended approval of the plans with the wading pond, citing the potential savings stemming from the grant funds. Similarly, Brent Taylor, who temporarily stepped down as North Ogden mayor to deploy to Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, offered an impassioned defense of the pond plans in a Facebook post. It would be a “fun, safe and enjoyable place,” he said, citing plans to mitigate potential dangers.
Council members Blake Cevering and Cheryl Stoker voted against including the wading pond, along with Barker, according to Barker. Councilmen Phillip Swanson and Carl Turner voted to retain the pond.