Opposition is growing among citizens and at least one government agency over a proposal to build a state court facility in the downtown Municipal Building block.

In response to a letter from a citizen concerned about the removal of trees in Municipal Park, the state forester is asking Ogden City and Weber County officials to reconsider the plan.The officials want the building located on the northwest quadrant of the block between 25th and 26th streets, and Washington Boulevard and Grant Avenue.

However, the plan will likely mean that several tall trees in the park will be cut down. The building also could displace Ogden's most popular seasonal attraction, Christmas Village.

The County Commission and City Council agreed last month to place the planned 80,000-square-foot justice building on the block. Legislators will decide in January whether to fund the $13 million project.

Neither entity held public hearings before concluding where to place the building.

Jay Blamires, owner of Moore Nursery and Floral and a member of the city's Shade Tree Committee said the 14 American elm trees that would have to be removed are a "local, if not national, treasury of life."

"Elm trees are an endangered species in our country," Blamires wrote in a letter to state court officials. The trees are estimated to be 80 to 90 years old.

Fellow shade tree committee member Al Rivas said he'd like to see a courts building in Ogden. "But in terms of ripping out the trees without having had sufficient public input into it, I think it's a mistake."

Rivas said he prefers the facility be constructed off the block.

Also asking for reconsideration of the plan is State Forester Richard P. Klason, who, in a Nov. 8 letter to city and county officials, wrote, "Your proposal is a step in the wrong direction."

"The trees and the park are public assets that cannot be replaced," Klason wrote. "The land and trees represent a living heritage of the early development days in Ogden's history."

Klason sent the Shade Tree Committee forms to nominate the trees for heritage status, which would protect them under state law.

Should they be so designated, the city and county would have to apply for a permit before removing or altering the trees.

Shade tree committee member Al Rivas said he'd like to see a courts building in Ogden. "But in terms of ripping out the trees without having had sufficient public input into it, I think it's a mistake."

Rivas said he prefers the facility be constructed off the block.

Gordon Bissegger, director of state courts administrative services, said it has been difficult to come up with a suitable location in Ogden.

Blamires said he is contemplating filing a legal protest on behalf of Ogden citizens, based on a 1906 permanent injunction preventing the city from selling or leasing the park and ensuring it be used for public purposes.