A request to close part of Lagoon Lane brought nearly 90 people, equally divided in their reactions, out to a public hearing this week in Farmington.
In addition to speaking on the issue of closing the street, many of the residents aired grievances or took the opportunity to praise the amusement park, the city's largest tax-generating entity.The council heard more than two hours of comments during the Wednesday night meeting, then decided it needs more information and tabled the issue until its first meeting in April.
Lagoon wants to close about 1,000 feet in the center portion of Lagoon Lane, crating two cul-de-sacs, one off Main Street and one off 600 North. The closed portion would serve as access to land the park owns east of the street, an area targeted for expansion.
The park wants to build a mine train and river-rapid ride on the property and reconfigure its existing log flume ride, using the open ground.
In return, park officials have said they will develop a jogging and bicycle trail along Farmington Creek for public use. Picnic pavilions and ball and soccer fields could also be built in the area if the city helps, park officials said.
Lagoon Lane, depending on individual viewpoints expressed at the hearing, is either a narrow, dangerous and poorly maintained side street or a charming, rural refuge that meanders through the heart of town.
Some residents protested closing the lane on the grounds it is needed as an alternate traffic route if Main Street is closed, as happened during the 1983 mudslides.
Farmington police and fire department officials have examined the proposal and say other emergency routes are available and there are enough access points into Lagoon that the lane isn't needed.
The city's planning commission also held a hearing on the request last month and has recommended against closing the street.
Lagoon representative David Freed and the park's planner, former Farmington City planner Bob Scott, said the park's city-approved master plan shows expansion into the area, with the eventual closure of the lane.
Engineers looked at rerouting the street, Freed said, but could come up with no acceptable alternatives.
"Lagoon's continued existence and viability is not guaranteed," Freed said. "We need to work with the city and our neighbors to expand and stay competitive. The park wishes to pursue its master plan as approved by the city and we believe we have a legal right to do so."
Freed estimated paving the jogging path, fencing both sides, and installation of a bridge at one point will cost Lagoon around $100,000.
Clark Freed, another park representative, said the facility hires many of its summer workers from Farmington and historically has had close ties to the city. He also reminded the council that Lagoon generates about $200,000 annually in tax revenue to the city.
Two former city councilmen, Grant Ungerman and Walt Bain, spoke in favor of the proposal, saying it fits with plans they drew up while serving on the council for open space with jogging paths and other amenities along Farmington Creek.
Ungerman said it is the first step in what he envisioned as a natural area with walking and jogging trails all the way from the shores of the Great Salt Lake to the mouth of Farmington Canyon.
But some neighbors maintain the park is getting out of control, buying up property all the way to Main Street and continually encroaching into the city's residential neighborhoods.
The lights, music, and noise generated by the park are destroying their lifestyle and reducing the value of their property, several residents said.
At the rate the park is expanding and the direction it is headed, "Main Street might make a good ride for them someday," warned Patty Hartley, whose family has property on Lagoon Lane. "I know they're good to you," she told the council. "But you don't owe them the land."
Allowing the park to expand, especially the construction of an enormous ferris wheel that has 50,000 lights on it is ruining Farmington's image, Glenda Rigby said.
"We won't know if we're living in Farmington or Lagoonton," Rigby told the council. In addition to asking the lane not be closed, Rigby urged the council to enact sound and light control ordinances and rescind its ordinance allowing structures in the park to reach 150 feet high.
"Please don't sacrifice our lifestyle for money or the amusement of strangers," Rigby asked.