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Officials, advocates see promise as Make Ogden plans continue to take shape

By Rob Nielsen - | Mar 29, 2024

Rob Nielsen, Standard-Examiner

People pore over the latest iteration of plans for Historic 25th Street and the Union Station campus on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, as part of a Make Ogden open house.

OGDEN — It’s going to be years before the proposals for Union Station and Historic 25th Street laid out on poster board and rolled out on the floor at various community feedback sessions come to life — but officials and advocates alike say they’re feeling like these ideas are going in a positive direction.

On Wednesday, Make Ogden held its monthly open house at Ogden’s Union Station, meant to update the public on progress on some of the initiative’s major projects.

“We’re now talking about the concepts for updating 25th Street and also the Union Station campus,” David Sawyer, deputy division manager for business development with Ogden City, told the Standard-Examiner. “We’ve given presentations at previous meetings. This one is a little bit more of a come and look, ask questions that perhaps you haven’t thought of before or if you just didn’t get a chance to come to the previous meetings.”

Dozens of people walked through Wednesday evening to take a look at the latest iterations of proposals for the Union Station campus and for 25th Street.

Among them was Ogden City Councilperson Dave Graf, who said he was excited about the progress on the concepts — including another Make Ogden project that is presently underway.

“I’m really encouraged to see and excited to see that they’re actually doing construction at the WonderBlock — they’re forming up and going vertical, and that’s great,” he said, referencing the project south of 25th Street. “Union Station, I think, is a key component of the redevelopment of our central business district. It’s going to preserve a big chunk of our history and draw some people to it for both work and living and travel, which is what Union Station was created for. It keeps this building alive and part of our historic culture.”

Ogden Mayor Ben Nadolski also was in attendance Wednesday evening, telling the Standard-Examiner that he’s happy to see an expanding dialogue on the proposed developments.

“I know that it’s not complete, but I’m happy that we are having good discussions with the public,” he said. “The dialogue feels different. It feels better. That’s important because it will get us better input and better results.”

He said this change has been especially apparent surrounding the plans for Union Station.

“In recent iterations (of the plans), I’m hearing from members of the public and engaged stakeholders that they’re seeing their input put into the iterations now,” he said. “That matters a lot because if we’re just asking for input and not putting their input into action, that’s insincere. I’m glad people are starting to see the plan reflect their input so that they can see sincerity in our interest in wanting the input.”

Steve Jones, an advocate for Union Station and a part of the Save/Visit Union Station in Ogden Utah Facebook group, told the Standard-Examiner he’s seen a positive shift in the discourse.

“I’m really feeling like Ogden City, in general, is listening to what the public has to say and is seriously considering it,” he said. “We know that there’s always going to have to be compromises along the way and you can’t satisfy all the people all the time. But it’s going the right direction with an emphasis on preserving history and celebrating our history. Change is going to happen, there’s no question about it, but we need need to make sure that that change adds value to what we already have, and that’s what we’re seeing happening.”

He said there’s still an ongoing need to refine the plans to ensure they are done right the first time, even if it will be a long-term project.

“If someone were to tell me those plans in there were final, I would be raising holy hell because they’re good ideas, they’re good concepts, but they need to be fleshed out,” he said. “This might be a 10-year project, it might be a 15-year project just for Union Station, and we need to make sure the mold is set early on so that everything we do over that time period, whatever it may be, builds upon each thing that we’ve previously done. That’s the way it appears to be going.”

Sawyer said city officials are still very much in the feedback-gathering phases on the Union Station and 25th Street projects.

“We’re still in the public feedback category,” he said. “On the Union Station project, for the last year or so, we’ve been having public engagement events. We’ve been at the farmer’s market and other places asking people what they think and what they’d like to see at Union Station. … This last concept was presented at our February meeting and it was based upon all of the comments we’ve heard, and we tried to incorporate those into the concepts that are laid out here tonight. Each time we have additional public input, it gets a little better and gets a little more refined.”

Graf said it is this input that ultimately will guide the timeline for when solid plans will come before the council.

“It is the city’s goal to do this right for all of the stakeholders in Ogden,” he said. “It just depends on how much ongoing input and redesign is necessary before they can actually start the project. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

Sawyer said next steps include continuing to gather public feedback and refining the plans while also starting on some of the preliminary elements needed for any project.

“We’ve still got to do some drainage studies and some soil samples to confirm the feasibility of doing the things that we want to do,” he said.

He added that it will likely be at least a couple of years before any buildings start rising on the Union Station campus or before any major changes come to 25th Street.


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