Wildlife rehab center could get 6-month extension on eviction
OGDEN — The Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah could get a six-month occupancy extension, but the amended agreement isn’t making anyone feel particularly at ease.
Tuesday, the city notified the Standard-Examiner it had signed a forbearance agreement with the wildlife center that would allow the occupants an additional 180 days to vacate the premises after the Sept. 6 deadline.
In March, the city notified the facility that it had six months to vacate the property as per a 2010 agreement that the facility was only in its temporary home and that the city would eventually utilize the land to expand the adjacent George S. Eccles Dinosaur Park.
The news of the amended agreement was confirmed by Ogden Marketing and Communications Manager Mike McBride, who emailed the agreement and a short statement to the Standard-Examiner on Tuesday.
“This six-month extension effectively gives the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center one year from the original date of notice to take steps toward finding a new facility to operate out of,” he said. “From the beginning, this arrangement was meant to be temporary, with the knowledge that the city would turn the property over for expansion at the Dinosaur Park. We appreciate the work the WRCNU does in Ogden and for all of Northern Utah and hope that this additional time will aid in their successful relocation.”
However, the six-month extension comes with several stipulations, including that the center’s administrators find a suitable replacement facility, sign a five-year lease on the new property and get all the necessary permits by Sept. 6, 2023.
WRCNU executive director and wildlife specialist DaLyn Marthaler told the Standard-Examiner not a lot has changed because of the extension.
“It’s very similar to what the original offer was before,” she said. “(The extension) is contingent upon us meeting certain benchmarks. There’s certain requirements and deadlines we have to meet in order to be granted that extension.”
Even if it’s able to obtain the six-month extension, the center will have to close its doors to new animals in the coming days.
“The extension will allow us to get animals in our care out safely to be released or placed in an educational environment, but it will not allow us to continue operating,” Marthaler said. “We are going to be forced to close our doors May 15.”
Marthaler said they have been hard at work trying to find a new home for the rehab center, but even that process hasn’t been smooth sailing.
“We have several properties we’re looking at and we’re still in negotiations based on everything,” she said. “There’s a lot of complications we’re running into, so that deadline is super scary and I’m concerned.”
She said there’s no guarantee they’ll be able to secure a property by Sept. 6.
“It’s a really tight deadline,” she said. “There’s so many moving parts in this that are out of our control. City planners, right now we’ve had trouble getting in touch with them. We’ve got to get our loan through. There was a problem with the inspection of one of the facilities that has to be remediated. I would love to say, ‘Yes, we’ve got this for sure,’ but I don’t know if we do or not.”
She said the easiest way to navigate forward would be a clean six-month extension.
“I would like the conditions gone,” she said. “If they can grant us the time, grant us the time. They have a legal right to kick us out. Knowing that, why put stipulations on that year if you can give it?”
Marthaler said the community has been showing great support since news of the eviction notice began to spread.
“We have an amazing community, that’s how we’re here and that’s who we’re here for as well as the animals,” she said. “Whenever we’ve gotten in trouble or needed something, our community has always stepped up and they’re doing it again.”
She reminded the public that this closure of the center is ultimately only a temporary one.
“There is a great concern because we’re being forced to close our doors that people might forget about us,” she said. “We want people to keep following us. We are going to keep posting where things are at, what our needs are and make this move happen as fast as we possibly can and keep people apprised of where we’re at in that move.”