OGDEN — The Ogden City administration has a list of applicants it wants to serve on the soon-to-be-formed Marshall White Center advisory board.
But some residents say they aren’t too pleased with how the selection process has gone so far.
In May, the city began accepting applications for its Marshall White Advisory Committee, a body that will give guidance to Mayor Mike Caldwell and the Ogden City Council as they eye a long-term plan of action for the more than 50-year-old inner-city rec center.
Caldwell said his office received 17 applications for the developing board and the applicant pool has been narrowed down to 12 potential appointees — names that will soon go before the council for final approval.
The center has been a regular topic of discussion in city circles since March 2018 when its pool closed after officials discovered large cracks in its surface. Initial estimates suggest it could cost more than $2 million to bring the pool back to life.
In the two years since the pool closed, Marshall White users have regularly asked the city to move forward to fix it. But Caldwell and others in his administration have said the high cost and the possibility of opening a new YMCA facility has added more nuance to what was an already uncertain situation with the pool.
The city has been working with the YMCA and consultant Pathway Associates to study a number of issues related to a new rec center — namely, cost, size, programming, location and the possibility of raising funds for it through a voter-approved bond and other means.
An initial feasibility study from Pathway posits the YMCA could raise up to $10 million for a newly constructed recreation facility of about 58,000 square feet.
Caldwell said the city will listen to all Marshall White stakeholders, which is part of the reason the committee is being created, but will ultimately move forward with a plan that makes the most fiscal sense.
Taylor Knuth, who serves as chair of the Ogden City Diversity Commission, said he’s been concerned with the committee selection process and the time it’s taken to get the board up and running. While stressing he was speaking not from his official position within the city, but rather as a resident, Knuth said he’s been disappointed the city has not involved the diversity commission in the selection process.
The Marshall White Center has traditionally served low-income residents of the city, with racially and culturally diverse backgrounds. Knuth said the diversity commission could have offered some valuable perspective along those lines. He also said he’s spoken to several people who have applied for the committee but have yet to hear anything from the city.
Ogden resident Heath Satow said he applied to the committee weeks ago but has not received any confirmation.
“In a situation like we’re in with the Marshall White, I think the city needs to be as open and transparent as possible,” Knuth said.
Ogden Council members Rich Hyer, Doug Stephens and Ben Nadolski all said they’ve heard similar complaints about the selection process. Nadolski said he believes the diversity commission should be heavily involved with future decisions regarding Marshall White, considering the center’s background.
“I think it’s more than just a recreational facility,” he said.
Caldwell and city Chief Administrative Officer Mark Johnson said they leaned on the expertise of the city’s Parks and Recreation staff to select potential appointees for the board.
“We made the assumption — whether it was correct or not — that this is similar to other committees in the city and we’ve been functioning under that premise,” Johnson said. “We’ve tried to be as fair and as good as we can.”
Johnson also said everyone who applied for the post will be notified eventually.