State court administrators have dropped proposals to put a court building on Ogden's Municipal Building block and have decided to look at sites elsewhere in the city.
An alternate choice is the corner of 26th Street and Kiesel Avenue. Other specific locations have not been identified.The Ogden City-Weber County building authority earlier rejected the Kiesel site in favor of building on the northwest quadrant of the municipal block.
Some elected officials are now worried that the building will not be constructed at all. Others are glad to see it moved off the block.
In a letter to city and county officials, Gordon Bissegger, state courts administrative services director, listed reasons for not wanting to move forward on the municipal block proposal:
-There are no funds available to turn Grant Avenue into a two-way street. The state wanted traffic flow on Grant changed for better access to the building.
-Potential litigation over protective covenants associated with the site would lead to additional delays. A 1906 permanent injunction requires that Municipal Park be maintained for public use.
-Growing opposition within the community to positioning a courts building on the block.
In addition, Bissegger said the city and county offer of land in exchange for the state refurbishing the park would not be enough to offset "extraordinary expenses" and that the expenses would "essentially erase the incentive associated with the donation."
Bissegger said the Legislature, which approves funding for such projects, is likely to look more favorably on one in which a property contribution is made. Project plans also must be approved by the state building board.
City and county leaders have repeatedly said their coffers are empty. Rather than buy land, they opted to offer property on the municipal block.
But the controversy surrounding the site selection may work against Ogden getting funds for the $14 million facility, Bissegger said.
Courts officials will look inside and outside of Ogden's central business district for a new site, he said. The state also might invite private property owners to solicit bids for their land.
"That's unfortunate. I think we have a good project, a very viable one," said Ogden Council member Robert DeBoer. "I guess we'll have to regroup and see where we're going."
County Commissioner A. Stephen Dirks said the project might now be in jeopardy, and he blamed city officials.
"The problem is that the Ogden City planning staff doesn't want it on the block. They're throwing up restrictions where there aren't any," he said.
Mayor Scott Sneddon said he isn't too bothered by the state's decision.
"My opinion is that the courts building be off the block. That was my original assessment," he said.