(The Ogden Group of the Sierra Club delivered the following statement to the Ogden City Council on May 6, 2014.)
Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the proposed relocation/replacement of the Golden Hours Center to a new community center to be located near 21st Street and Madison Avenue. Our concern is entirely with the change in location.
If Ogden is to be more than a mere suburb of Salt Lake City, and is to participate in the inevitable growth that will occur in Weber County during the coming decades, we must plan for higher-density neighborhoods in which less space is devoted to automobiles and a significant number of trips will be made by walking and by mass transit. Pedestrian- and transit-friendly neighborhoods must contain a mix of multi-unit housing, commercial, and institutional uses. These neighborhoods must also be served by transit that is reasonably convenient to use, in terms of frequency and hours of service. Conversely, it is not cost-effective to operate convenient transit service in low-density, purely residential neighborhoods.
Fortunately, Ogden is already well served by two high-frequency transit lines: the 603 and 612 buses (shown in red on the image at right). These services operate along corridors that already contain a fairly good mix of uses. For example, the 603 bus travels through a portion of the east-central neighborhood that includes large apartment buildings, government buildings, professional offices, markets, a restaurant, a drug store, the public library, and the Golden Hours Center. This neighborhood is an excellent candidate for further increased density and for future transit improvements.
The current proposal, as we understand it, is to relocate the Golden Hours Center to a new community center to be located near 21st Street and Madison Avenue. We are not aware of any commercial or government buildings within a two-block walking radius of this location, and the zoning around it is entirely residential. The new location would not be within walking distance of either of Ogden’s high-frequency transit corridors, and is not a viable candidate for future high-frequency transit service.
(There is, of course, a low-frequency bus line along Monroe Avenue, one block east of the proposed community center location. This bus line provides only half-hour service on weekdays, hourly service on Saturdays, and no evening or Sunday service. Because of the neighborhood’s low density, it would not be cost-effective for UTA to improve the service along Monroe. In light of this reality, the promise that the “City will work with UTA” rings hollow.)
Thus, the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of patrons who do not drive—potentially including all of us at some time in the future. More generally, the proposed relocation runs counter to Ogden’s goal of fostering future growth within our limited, built-out boundaries. Rather than dispersing public buildings into low-density neighborhoods where people are forced to drive, we should be concentrating public buildings, and other high-density development, along corridors where walking and transit are viable.
We therefore urge the Ogden City Council to reject this relocation proposal and to proactively begin planning for high-density, pedestrian-oriented development along Ogden’s major transit corridors.