OGDEN — A Weber County roadway passing property owned by a trust held by the family of County Commissioner Gage Froerer received an upgrade earlier this year.
What’s more, the Froerer Family Trust and Froerer Family Investments will be getting $6,100 from the county for acquisition of a small piece of the property held by the trust that was needed for the project.
Gage Froerer, though, actually opposed the project — sought by others living in the area near Huntsville — and steered clear of involvement in it as county officials and others deliberated and finally approved the plans. “You can talk to all my neighbors. I just left it up to them,” he said.
It’s not often, perhaps, that an elected official is so linked, as a private citizen, to a public project. Happenstance — the lobbying of his neighbors, anyway — put Froerer in that position, though, and the issue came up for debate at Tuesday’s Weber County Commission meeting. Froerer recused himself from action on the $6,100 payment, ultimately approved by the two other commissioners, Jim Harvey and Scott Jenkins. And Jenkins emphasized that county officials made sure the process remained on the up and up.
“Everyone knew that this was sensitive because one of the commissioners owned the corner. So we made sure that everything was done by the book,” Jenkins said.
The residents seeking improvements to a half-mile section of 7900 East, also known as Buhrley Lane, started pushing for change even before Froerer was elected to the commission post in 2018, according to Jenkins. They wanted the dirt road paved and other improvements, ultimately offering to pay a portion of the cost for the work. Before Froerer assumed his commission post in January 2019, the others on board at the time — Jenkins, Harvey and James Ebert — gave the green light to the plans, Jenkins said.
The project, with a price tag of around $100,000, Froerer said, moved forward last spring and Jenkins said neighbors ultimately paid two-thirds of the cost. The roadway, 7900 East, ultimately leads to Froerer’s home, he said, though the new paved section ends before reaching his residence. He didn’t pitch in funds for the project, like his neighbors, Froerer said.
“To be honest with you, residents usually aren’t excited about paying for roads,” said Gary Myers, the Weber County engineer. Froerer, he went on, stayed out of the matter, “wisely so. He did all the right things, in my opinion.”
At the same time, Jenkins said neither he nor Harvey took part in the process to determine the fair-market value of the 4,209-square-foot piece of property the county acquired from the Froerer Family Trust as part of the project. The land was needed to help smooth a bend in the roadway section that was upgraded to make travel on it safer.
“We were not involved, Commissioner Harvey and I. The negotiations took place outside of us,” Jenkins said. In fact, the work of determining the $6,100 price tag, basing it on other property sales, was left to county staffers.
Aside from paving, three storm drain culverts were placed along the segment of 7900 East that got attention, among other things. Froerer said maintenance of the road should actually be lower for the county now that it’s paved.