Aaron Christensen, said if the council doesn’t come to some sort of agreement to scale down the size of the amphitheater project, they will move forward with litigation. The city council offered to discuss the issue at the city council meeting on Tuesday Feb. 13.
Christensen said the park was intended to remain as open space as a way to hold on to North Ogden’s rural farming community feel. He said the Barkers had forgone the money to sell to a developer to sell it to the city and “The new amphitheater in scale and function does not conform to deed covenants.”
Christensen said they have collected between 250 and 300 signatures for the petition. The petition to the city asks the continued construction of the amphitheater be stopped until further study can be completed. Christensen pressed the council to hold a special meeting to discuss options before the end of the week or halt construction. A representative from Wadman Corporation, the contractors for the amphitheater, said it could cost up to ten thousand dollars to stop construction until the next scheduled city council meeting on Feb. 13.
The council did not agree to halt construction until that time. They were unable to have all council members attend and have a recorder to take minutes on either Thursday Feb. 8 or Friday Feb. 9. The council made a tentative decision give the majority of the meeting to discuss this topic on Tuesday Feb. 13 which is the next scheduled city council meeting. Christensen said he would speak with their legal counsel about meeting on Tuesday. Councilman Phillip Swanson later said, “I do not know if they connected, but we have not heard anything from them regarding any time they want in the meeting Tuesday.”
The Barker Family
Steve Barker is the oldest son of Carl and Lorna Barker. As a former member of the of the Barker Park committee, he encouraged residents to, “Make suggestions if they would like to see things done differently.” He said his family hoped the city could grow around the park and love it. He is urging residents to do what it takes so they can move forward. Rod Barker, is one of 9 children, he said they are not opposed to the amphitheater but they are opposed to the large scale of it. Melanie Barker, said she doesn’t think the roads can sustain thousands of people. Peggy Barker, said the park was created to save open space so it can be shared. “It’s turning into a battle and a war. All of this has been planned, struggled with, and now it seems like we are stuck.”
People involved in theater productions
Mark Daniels, a proud member of the theater community, directed the production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat on the unfinished amphitheater stage a couple years ago. He said he slept out by the amphitheater to make sure all the equipment was safe through the nights. He said the production created magic and brought community members together to act on stage. “We know how to run it and maintain it once it is built,” he said.
Calista Extrom has been involved in the theater program at BYU Idaho. She said she has been feeling the tension build in her neighborhood. “I see the amphitheater’s potential to bring the community together.” She said she saw a friend become the first in his family to go to college through a scholarship with theater and she hopes young adults will experience the impact of the arts.
Janice Christensen, said she has been trained to be a theater manager. She thinks the idea for the amphitheater has outgrown the park and the residential area.
The process of change
Councilwoman Sara Fawson said the Barker Park amphitheater has “already has gone through processes. It has been approved.” Monalisa Wald said she worked for the city up until a few months ago. “I don’t know what more could have been done to invite the public to comment.” The council questioned, “How do we get people to participate and more people to join the conversation? How do we communicate adequately?” They noticed there are some channels of communication that aren’t open.
Some residents turn to mayor’s Facebook page. The last three posts about the amphitheater project received a majority of positive support for the amphitheater. Jennifer Wolford in a comment on the page said, “There are a lot of North Ogden residents who like the direction the city is heading.”
Other public comments regarding the amphitheater
Senator Allen Christensen said it will take great leadership to make it through this. He encouraged the council and those listening to find common ground. Kennith Hill, said he is concerned about the quality of the hollow area. He is worried about the road sloughing off into the creek. Arron Buther said he wants the city to take care of each neighborhood. He would like to see more bike trails and walking paths so his son doesn’t have to cross Washington blvd. Steve Rasmussen, said he hopes the development of the rest of the park doesn’t get lost in the discussion. Clay Christensen said his son is disappointed that his sledding hills are going away. He is supportive of beautiful new things being added to the city. “Lets not let this drive a wedge between us.”
The council approved caucus meetings to be held in the City Building until the library opens once again.
Susan Clements said she got a late notification to participate in the deer count. The council said city will give more advanced noticed in the future.
The council agreed to add a part time employee to help with administrative duties for North Ogden City. They agreed to review the necessity of the position in 18 months. City Attorney John Call said there is enough work for a full time employee but extra costs such as providing full time benefits would associated with hiring a full time position. Instead, they will add an additional part time employee to work in conjunction with their current part time employee. Call said sales tax and property tax will help cover employee costs.
The council nominated Councilman Cevering to participate on the Amphitheater Planning Committee. The city council selected Philip Swanson to be on the North View Senior Center board.