Consideration to surplus and then sell or develop city property near the Heber City cemetery is no more. After another long public hearing city council voted to take that option to fund their portion of the eastern bypass off the table.
The Heber City eastern bypass will connect Red Ledges traffic to US 40. Red Ledges and future development New London will build the end portions of the bypass, while the city has financial obligations to build a section in the middle. In order to fund the construction of the road the city had considered selling land they owned near the cemetery.
At the past two council meetings council members heard public outcry from neighbors to the property and other residents about the proposal.
At Tuesday’s meeting the Council considered a resolution to surplus cemetery property and issue an invitation to negotiate on the sale of the property.
Council member Ron Crittenden said that in light of the strong showing of community interest, the city should consider alternatives to selling the cemetery land.
“I wouldn’t want to have us do an ITN (Invitation to negotiate) if ultimately our decision was to not put anything here,” Crittenden explained. “It wouldn’t be fair to those that were investing time in that. I’m not saying I don’t think we might want to look at it in another meeting; but I move to table this item for now.”
Council member Crittenden’s motioned to table the item failed for a lack of a second. Council member Wayne Hardman then weighed in.
“I think that time is on our side,” Hardman continued. “I think that there’s a lot of options out there and I think there’s a lot more that we can check out and survey. I think that open space is very important. My folks are buried up right by there; it is a place of sacredness. So, I think that we should not get in a big hurry. We should look for other ways to pay for this road—that’s got to go through there—without selling this property.”
Council member Hardman then motioned to strike down the resolution to surplus the property and issue an invitation to negotiate. Council member Jeff Smith also shared his thoughts about building part of the road before the entire eastern bypass can be built.
“I’ve heard ‘road to nowhere’, I’ve heard ‘dead end road’ about five times,” Smith said. “I think to say that it’s stupid to build B and C and then just wait for A to be built is about the nicest way that I could describe that.”
Council member Heidi Franco explained that previously the city planned to sell the parcels near the cemetery to finance the Duke property also near the cemetery but now things have changed.
“When we purchased the Duke property, our city budget was in a place of scarcity,” Franco explained. “We felt there was no way that we could just buy the Duke property without reimbursing city funds. Our staff recommended this would be the best situation, so we were trying to switch it across. As long as we don’t get major recessions hitting our city, I feel like over the next few years we could swing the cost of this; but at the cost of building the road ourselves.”
Council member Jeff Bradshaw said he thought the city should keep the property as open space as much as they can.
“I realize the road is something that we’re committed to, but I think that we can do it and keep the rest of it as open space,” Bradshaw continued. “I realize that that’s going to put a bind on our finances to a great extent, but I think that we can work it out.”
Mayor Kelleen Potter was not in attendance at the meeting.
The motion then passed unanimously to the applause of citizens in attendance. Other options remain to fund the road including, bonding for the entirety of the construction costs at an estimated $1.8 to $2 million. The city could also bond for part of the construction costs and use county corridor preservation funds, CIB funds or transportation impact fees to supplement the bond.