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Locomotives on display outside Union Station in downtown on Wednesday, March 6, 2019. 

OGDEN — While Ogden City continues to a ponder a revamped Union Station and opportunities for a new indoor community recreation center, officials traveled to Denver this week to conduct some field research on both prospects.

Ogden Mayor Mike Caldwell, members of the city council and others visited the Mile High City Monday through Wednesday to tour the city’s renovated Union Station area and a handful of YMCAs.

A large-scale renovation of Ogden’s own 95-year-old historic train depot and its grounds has been discussed for several years now. Though still in its infancy, the project could include large, public open spaces, museums, art galleries, high-density housing, retail space, meeting and event space and administrative offices.

The city has also engaged in discussions with the Young Men’s Christian Association — more commonly known as the YMCA, or simply “The Y” — about opening a Northern Utah recreational facility in Ogden.

The Denver trip was an opportunity for city officials to get an insider’s view of the best practices for both potential endeavors.

“We were just trying to gather as much information as possible,” Caldwell said. “We’re a long way from having anything solid (on either project).”

Denver’s Union Station, which underwent a massive multi-million dollar renovation in the early 2000s, has been pointed to in city circles several times over the years as something Ogden could model.

Ogden Council Chair Ben Nadolski said the station in Denver is on a larger scale then what could probably be achieved in Ogden, but the facility — which includes a multi-model transportation network and surrounding development to support it — did provide a small glimpse into a possible future here.

“It’s basically an anchor for activity all around it,” Nadolski said. “It’s easy to look at (Denver’s Union Station area) and see the potential for our Union Station.”

Earlier this year, students from Utah State University’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning department completed a comprehensive plan to repurpose Ogden’s Union Station rail yard and revitalize the west Ogden neighborhood behind it.

The plan includes things like new greenways, trails, river restoration, the reconfiguration of 24th Street and other streets in west Ogden, and contemporary uses of existing infrastructure in the area. City officials will scrutinize the plan over the next 12 months, making refinements to it and exploring what could realistically be implemented.

The city redevelopment plan is an uncertainty because even though Ogden owns the station itself, Union Pacific owns all of the ground surrounding it. The city is currently trying to negotiate a purchase of the property with UP.

As for the indoor recreation aspect of the trip, Caldwell said the group visited five YMCA facilities, all of which operated independent of one another, with a wide-range of funding methods.

“One of them, for example, was funded 100 percent with city money,” the mayor said. “Then there was one with no subsidy at all.”

The YMCA operates programs out of several Weber and Davis county elementary, junior high and high schools and at Weber State University, but has no independent, dedicated athletic facilities in the region.

Of the trip, Nadolski said while it’s important for the council to get exposure to what other communities are doing, Ogden is its own animal and requires it’s own unique set of plans.

“There were examples of things that worked really well, but there were also those cautionary tales to learn from,” he said. “We’re not trying to turn Ogden into Denver. But it was just good to see what had worked, what hasn’t and how we can use those examples to best serve our city.”

You can reach reporter Mitch Shaw at mishaw@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @mitchshaw23.

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