A small bridge is causing big problems for Springville officials.
The bridge in question crosses Hobble Creek in Kelly's Grove, and leads to about 18 homes, including a cabin owned by Kenneth Creer, mayor of Springville. The previous bridge was broken when a heavy truck crossed it in mid-July.Kelly's Grove homeowners approached a member of the City Council, and city officials quickly began building a new bridge.
"I knew they were building the bridge, but not through the normal channels," Martin Conover, publisher of the Springville Herald, said.
In an editorial, Conover said the repairs were begun quickly because Creer's cabin was among those affected. He said the road and bridge are county property, and not under Springville's jurisdiction. He questioned why the bridge escaped discussion in a City Council meeting, and why rebuilding was being handled by the electrical department, not the streets department.
But Creer said he was out of the state when the issue came up, the bridge is a city responsibility, and safety concerns prompted the fast action.
"I was in Alaska when the residents came forward with their concerns," Creer said. "My attitude is we've done the right thing. I was not involved in the initial decision, but I understand the concern was that emergency vehicles could not have reached Kelly's Grove residents, who are Springville's responsibility.
"I think the press has blown this whole thing out of proportion."
Utah County Commissioner Malcolm Beck has confirmed the road, at the bridge location, is a city responsibility. Asked if city officials knew that when they approved the project, Creer said, "I'm sure they must have, or why would they approve it?"
Conover said it is a private road on city-owned land.
"The mayor has a cabin up there and has a definite conflict of interest on this project. I have been criticized for `picking on him,' but as a public servant, the mayor must be accountable.
"I know I will make the citizens who live there mad. If I could get a bridge for free, I would want one too."
Howard Maycock, part-owner of a house in Kelly's grove, said convenience and safety are both concerns.
"My wife needs oxygen, and with her health problems, I don't like to take her into isolated areas.
"It is possible to get back to the house, but the detour takes you around boulders and brush. You have to drive very slowly."
Conover still questions the channels used to build the new bridge.
"When the Folkfest people presented a plan for a city park to become the permanent location for the Folkfest, the council nit-picked the idea to death. It told them engineers would have to approve this, officials would have to study that.
"But when people want a bridge to serve the area near Creer's cabin, construction crews and money are suddenly available, even though the bridge was not in the budget. Work starts immediately. That's a little odd, don't you think?"
Creer said different departments working together could save money, in this case.
"We already had the materials. Sometimes, we use a conglomeration of all departments working together. We use everyone's talents to do the job. That is what happened with this project."