Susan Barton and her 4-year-old son, John, were picking their way through weeds, stepping over roots, kicking aside broken glass, sniffing the flowers and enjoying the sunny day.
A lovely stroll, said Barton, through what should be a lovely park.But it's not, she said, and that angers her. It's the Ogden River just east of Washington Boulevard - a collection of crude paths, meeting places for young people and homosexuals, discarded fast-food containers and broken beer bottles, thrown-out clothing and yard trash.
Barton lives in an old house just a stone's throw from all of that. Her backyard gate would lead her children directly to it, if they would go that way. But they won't, or she won't let them.
"I won't let my daughter ride her bike to the park," she said. "There's so much glass."
Barton, until last December a school teacher, now works as a part-time librarian for Weber County. Having time on her hands and being the type of person who likes to do things, she has decided she wants to save the Ogden River Park.
The park isn't really there, yet. Ogden City has a master plan for it, a long series of trails, sports fields, nature areas and picnic areas stretching from Washington all the way to the mouth of Ogden Canyon.
It includes existing Lorin Farr Park. So far, though, the work being done to develop the plans is, by Barton's thinking, all at the wrong end, up by the canyon.
One proposal she has submitted to the Weber County Private Industry Council is for $3,750 to form a "Youth Conservation Corps" to spend a month in the summer cleaning up the river banks.
That also means, she said, that residents and businesses along the parkway should take a part in cleaning it up, at the very least. "My feeling is, if it's cleaned up and people are using it, it will reduce criminal activity," Barton said.
Walking up the north river bank from her house to Lorin Farr Park, she pointed out trouble spot after trouble spot that could be cleaned up, not by massive action but just by people being neat.
"In the summer, lots of little kids like to come down and splash in the (river) water, (but they) get their feet all cut up," she said.
The area just east of the park, known as one of the main homosexual meeting places in Ogden as well as a parking place for the homeless, is not conducive to children and families, said Barton. Its reputation, plus all the litter and broken glass the people at night leave, makes it a nasty place for children to go.
"That's my beef," she said. "When I was a kid, we had places we could go and be wild and crazy without fear of glass and stuff."
That is why she disagrees with the city's plan to develop the Ogden River Parkway from the east instead of from the west. The west end, around her house, is where neighborhoods and businesses would directly benefit from improvement.
City officials plead lack of funding, saying they would like to see the river cleaned up as much as anyone, but with other parks in need and limited money, a project such as one Barton has in mind isn't a good bet - at least for now.
Nonetheless, Barton said she hopes her idea for a Youth Conservation Corps to clean up the river areas will come true. Whether it does or not, she said, she's also going to start talking to businesses and other residents along the river to get them involved.