Guest op-ed: Ogden’s efforts to weaponize land
What can be said when the family farm is taken? Then years later, that same land is used as a weapon against follow-on generations to destroy their health and drive them from their homes? In 1940, the residents of the rural communities of Marriott and Slaterville were asked to give up their land to help the U.S. government prepare for the increasing threats that were manifesting themselves across the globe. Some families sold willingly, while others had their property condemned and taken from them. In 1941, the Army activated the Utah General Depot just in time to support our troops during World War II.
Unfortunately, during the Depot’s 60-year operation, the Army improperly disposed of multiple chemical toxins across the property, ultimately causing the land to be named a “super fund clean-up site” in the late ’80s. The residents of the Marriott-Slaterville area have suffered with cancer clusters for many years, in addition to chemical blooms still currently active on the Depot site. When the government closed the Depot, rather than returning the land to those families from whom it was taken, it was sold to Ogden City.
Today, Ogden City and their management partner, Boyer Corp., are erecting enormous concrete warehouses along 1200 West, north of the Ogden Nature Center. This property borders Marriott-Slaterville City (MSC), and now those MSC legacy families wake up to 45 feet of concrete wall where their beautiful mountain sunrise used to be. Little notice was given to MSC leaders, or MSC residents, prior to the start of construction on this 43-acre parcel back in March. After stripping the land of vegetation, in another callous move, Mayor Mike Caldwell signed a noise waiver allowing construction to commence at 2 a.m. in the morning without regard to neighboring homes directly across the street. Extraordinary dust and noise have been the steady routine for the last seven months.
Inquiries concerning the ground contamination have gone unanswered and “trust us” is substituted instead. “CALDWELL’S WALL” gives drivers along 1200 West a canyon-like effect (including echo), while shadowing the properties across the street. Light pollution from the Depot steals the starlight from our nighttime skies and ultimately caused the cancellation of traditional Nature Center star parties. Many of you may remember Ogden City’s 2017 ill-fated attempt to displace the Nature Center from its property for commercial development. These massive buildings have been placed on the doorstep of the Nature Center, once again showing the City’s contempt for its very existence.
Ogden City cannot continue to be the bully on the municipal block, where greed is the only relevant measure for community development and “Block Busting” for commercial expansion is the norm. Members of the Ogden City Council need to immediately visit this site and then reach out to affected families across the fence to assure them that no one else will suffer in this same manner. Please, thoughtfully use your vote this November to protect and preserve the Jewel of Weber County, our own Ogden Nature Center, from those in Ogden City wishing to destroy it and those failing to protect it. These buildings need to comply with the strictest of noise abatement and dark skies mandates. Ogden desperately needs a city administration that for once respects its neighbors and nature.
Photo supplied, Kerry Wayne
“There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Kerry Wayne is a resident of Marriott-Slaterville.