Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Saratoga residents unite against UDOT project

Saratoga residents unite against UDOT project
Cathy Allred - Daily Herald
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Saratoga Springs residents are upset that the Redwood Road Expansion Project could severely impact their homes and safety, and they have organized to fight for changes.

Utah Department of Transportation spokesman Geoff Dupaix said they hope to address residents' concerns at an open house today from 6-8 p.m. at Saratoga Shores Elementary.
In February, UDOT staff met with nearby Redwood Road residents about the highway widening project. Initially, UDOT planned on constructing a drainage ditch down the side of Redwood Road (State Road 68) where a strip park exists but since the February meeting has changed those plans to place the drain culvert in the highway median, said Doug Graham, chairman of a road expansion committee organized by Saratoga Springs subdivision homeowners association members.

"People were concerned about ruining the 10 years of growth trees and grass, and a jogging path that many people use on a daily basis," he said.

Now there are more concerns about the expansion project.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to resolve some of those concerns at the meeting tomorrow, where those improvements will be, how they will change the rest of the plan and to improve safety," Dupaix said.

He said that since February the plans for the highway have been slightly shifted to the west, farther away from the neighboring subdivision.

Graham said he isn't holding his breath for improvements.

"With that expansion are several considerations, including my home," he said. "There is a safety factor that no one seems to be considering."

He said vehicles traveling along Redwood Road have twice veered off the highway slamming through fencing into residents' backyards. Graham said his group is concerned there will be additional risk after the expansion is completed because UDOT wants to raise the road to resolve flooding and drainage issues.

"We have the safety factor; it's an obvious big issue," he said. "There is also the aesthetic issue."

Residents not bordering S.R. 68 have raised another issue.

Pepita Ridgeway lives in the Saratoga Springs planned community near the HOA pool. Her family regularly bikes as an activity with their three young children. With ongoing construction for State Road 73 effectively blocking the Jordan River Parkway bike path and now the addition of the S.R. 68 expansion project, Ridgeway said she's frustrated.

"We'll have to just, I don't know, drive up to Provo Canyon, something like that," she said. "There's isn't much else we can go ... unless we just ride on the road, but you know what that's like. Motorists are not very cyclist-aware, I'd say."

Dupaix said UDOT's goal is to not take out the trail but to improve the road without significantly impacting the trail.

Graham said he and other residents will be at the open house tonight.

"I don't think they were expecting the reaction that they got," Graham said. "People are really concerned."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Eagle Mountain commuters face construction delays

Eagle Mountain commuters face construction delays
April 6th, 2009 @ 1:25pm
By Randall Jeppesen
SARATOGA SPRINGS - Commuters in Eagle Mountain are facing a double dose of road construction.

The intersection known as the four corners in Saratoga Springs is a major route for motorists to and from Eagle Mountain. Redwood Road and State Road 73 in the area both are under construction. Both roads are being widened.

"It takes 15 more minutes, 15 to half an hour longer," one motorist said.

But Scott Thompson of the Utah Department of Transportation says when it's all completed, today's delays will lead to a much better drive.

"(They've) got a new Wal-Mart going in out there. You have a lot more people coming back and forth," he said.

Redwood Road is being widened from Bangerter Highway on the north to 400 South in Saratoga Springs on the south. It should be finished by this fall.

The S.R. 73 work should be wrapped up in June.

UTA buses begin new route on west side of Utah Lake

UTA buses begin new route on west side of Utah Lake
April 6th, 2009 @ 5:44pm
By Randall Jeppesen
EAGLE MOUNTAIN -- For the tens of thousands living in Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs, there's finally a new way to get to Salt Lake for work. A new express bus route is rolling.

"That's good, probably a good idea. If you work uptown or something, that's probably the way to go," one man told us.

Some residents are saying anything to reduce traffic, and that will allow them to leave the car at home, is a good thing and needed; others not so happy about the price to ride.

UTA says the cost of a one-way express bus fare is $4.50 and a monthly unlimited express bus pass is $162.00. "I don't think it's worth it for the price they're charging," another man said.

Right now, there are only two buses that make the trip, but several residents say it's a start. They hope to see more buses added as more people jump aboard. [Click here to see a map of the new route]

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saratoga Springs may get library

Saratoga Springs may get library
Lance Madigan - Daily Herald
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Saratoga Springs has taken advantage of the Utah County Bookmobile for about two years now, and according to city officials, the service is heavily utilized.

The heavy usage has given the mayor an idea of how to make a full-fledged library happen in the city.
The Saratoga Springs Police Department is planning to move in the next few months, as soon as Alpine Pediatrics vacates the first floor of the Saratoga Springs City Offices and proper renovations can be made. Mayor Tim Parker has proposed that the trailer now being used by the police department could be converted to a beginning library.

"Right now, we have a small window [with the Bookmobile] of two hours every two weeks," he said, adding that while many people just come out and look at what is on the Bookmobile, the other option is to go online and request the book you want. The problem is, patrons must meet the Bookmobile during the prescribed two-hour block to pick up and drop off their materials.

A library facility would work to expand that window.

"The idea is, the Bookmobile can deliver and pick up books at a central access," Parker said. "Then six days a week, a person could pick up or drop off for the Bookmobile, rather than just the tiny two-hour window."

Parker said additional benefits would be that the library trailer could be a place to start a collection for the city.

"We have to discuss it with them," he said. "But it could possibly be a place for the Bookmobile to house part of their collection."

The mayor also proposed that it could be a reading room for individuals, as well as a place to set up a small Internet lab and as a way for Saratoga to strengthen its position to join the North County Library Cooperative between Lehi, American Fork, Pleasant Grove and Eagle Mountain.

Ken Leetham, Saratoga Springs city manager, said that if it were organized and manned by volunteers, there would be very little cost for the city.

City Councilwoman Denise Kelly said it could be an opportunity for Eagle Scout projects.

"It is the beginning of going toward the real thing," Parker said. "We might have to hang a sign on the outside of the trailer, 'Don't laugh, it's paid for,' but it is a way to get the snowball going."

All the city council members present were very supportive of the idea.

Now, city officials just need to decide if they want to remodel the trailer when the police department leaves, or work with the rooms as they currently exist. Parker said he could see using some of the city staff working on the police department renovation at the main city offices to concurrently make renovations very cheaply.

With the projection of the police department moving in June, he said they could hope to have something in place this summer.

Residents interested in helping organize the effort through a citizen library committee or providing volunteer hours or donations are encouraged to e-mail the mayor at mayortimparker@yahoo.com.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Saratoga Springs City staff consider administrative court

Saratoga Springs City staff consider administrative court
Lance Madigan - Daily Herald
Officials are taking steps to open an administrative law court in Saratoga Springs to make things easier on residents while retaining revenue for the city.

The Saratoga Springs Justice Court has been open for slightly more than a year, and handles everything from domestic violence to unsightly yards cases. The court is open just one day a week and generally has a pretty full agenda when it is open.
Those are some of the main reasons Saratoga is looking at an administrative law court option.

"The biggest complaint that I think I received every single week, is that I have people that are coming into here that are being criminalized on behalf of the city for having their dog out," said Lindsay Jarvis, Saratoga Springs city prosecutor. "They are sitting in the audience court with citizens who have received DUIs, who are being investigated for domestic violence. They don't understand why they are sitting in this particular arena. They are sitting around guys who are going to jail."

Jarvis said the majority of the court cases have to do with code violations, and the city is losing out on a significant amount of revenue because code violators are being tried in Justice Court.

"The state charges us an 85 percent surcharge for every fine we bring in," he said.

An administrative court would give the city the power to create its own ordinances and enforce them. At present, Jarvis said this would probably be applied to animal citations, marina harbor violations, Department of Transportation violations and "messy yards."

"There are two main advantages here," said Ken Leetham, city manager. "One is not sharing court revenue. The other is, if we as a city are serious about property management, code enforcement and beautification of neighborhoods, this court and putting a comprehensive code together to address that is really the solution. And we really need to do that early on."

"I think the other thing is the better use of certain people's time for certain things," said Councilwoman Mia Love.

Enforcement, especially in the yard violation area, is a significant benefit according to Jarvis, because an administrative court would make it easier for city staff to enforce standards.

"We give notice of violation, or what we call an administrative citation," Jarvis said. "It gives them a notice of what the violation is, and then says 'You have 10 days to take care of this problem. Should you not take care of this problem in the 10 days, on the 11th day we are going to start charging you $25 a day per violation until it is taken care of.'••"

A lien could then be placed on a property, so in the case of unoccupied homes, new buyers would have to address the issue and pay the fine before they could get a certificate of occupancy.

The cost for the court would be minimal, according to Jarvis. She and the judge would have only a slight increase to their time since they have to hear these cases anyway.

The most expensive portion would be in the support staff for classifying and organizing these cases to be heard. The cost, she is quick to point out, would be quickly recouped in the fines that are not being sent to the state justice system.

The City Council was supportive of the idea. Jarvis, with the help of other city staff, will outline what administrative codes will cover in the city.

Once that is approved by the City Council, the court will just need to be organized so that it can start hearing cases.

"The sooner the better for us," Jarvis said.

Monday, March 2, 2009

North Utah County to see sewer fees jump

North Utah County to see sewer fees jump
Caleb Warnock - DAILY HERALD
North Utah County residents are looking at a 35 percent spike in sewer fees -- a sign that at least sewer officials believe the recession cannot last forever.

The increase is necessary because Timpanogos Special Service District must proceed with a $107 million expansion despite the economy -- perhaps even because of the economy, said officials.
District officials are shopping three fee-increase scenarios around to city councils in the north end of the valley, each of which would increase rates by a total of 35 percent over two or more years, followed by a small annual increase every year thereafter.

The first scenario would increase rates 15 percent on July 1, and another 20 percent on July 1, 2010. Other scenarios might wait another year before the second increase, or vary the type of bond issue.

"The board is leaning toward the first scenario," said Alpine Councilman Tracy Wallace, reporting the fee proposal to Alpine. Wallace represents that city on the sewer district board.

Costs have gone up but fees have not been regularly increased, Wallace said of the decision to add small automatic annual raises after the larger fee jumps.

District Manager Jon Adams said the sewer plant must be expanded to meet the needs of future growth, even if growth has flat-lined now.

"You cannot guarantee me that we are not going to expand" the local population, Adams said. "If you are trying to tell me no one is going to have a baby, you are up in the night."

Built to treat up to 18 million gallons of human waste a day, the plant processed 15 million gallons a day in 2008, Adams said. That number is just too close to full capacity for comfort.

Sewer board members will choose one of the three scenarios at their March 19 meeting, and then a public hearing on the 35 percent increase will be held, likely in April.

The increase would allow the district to float a bond for $55 million. That combined with another $29 million the district has already borrowed, impact fees that have already been paid and will be paid, and monthly user fees will make up the cost of the $107 million project.

Indeed, economic recession may mean more people moving to Utah not to buy new homes but to move into their parents' basements, Adams said. And there are hundreds, if not more, of homes that sit vacant or approved for construction that have already paid fees for sewer, and the district must be ready at any time to give them service.

"We have an unprecedented number of homes where the fees are already paid for but they are vacant," he said.

All of this adds up to a need to expand now, despite the economy, but the rough economy may actually help as construction bid prices are dropping sometimes by as much as a quarter or a third of their original cost, he said. The sewer district hopes to take advantage of those savings.

"I don't see where we can wait," he said.

In addition, it now appears that the state will require sewer treatment plants to begin removing phosphorus from treated sewage before it is dumped into Utah Lake, and perhaps nitrogen too. Both of these mean Timpanogos will need to redesign its facilities. And odor control is part of the $107 million plan, too.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Commission accepts final draft of Utah Lake plan

Commission accepts final draft of Utah Lake plan
By Donald W. Meyers
The Salt Lake Tribune

Salt Lake Tribune
Posted:02/26/2009 02:11:01 PM MST
Provo » The final draft of the Utah Lake Master Plan might be done. But the work is just beginning.
That's Larry Ellertson's perspective. The vice chairman of the Utah Lake Commission says that before work to restore Utah's largest natural fresh-water lake and expand recreational opportunities, the planning document has to go through a 45-day review at the state level.
"This is something that needs to sit on the desk of every planner and anyone who has something to do with the lake," Ellertson said Thursday after the commission's vote to accept the document, in the works for the last 12 months.
The plan does not give the commission authority to enforce it. Rather, the commission serves as an advisory board and encourages its member communities and state agencies to follow the plan.
Greg Beckstrom, a member of the commission's Technical Committee, said the document represents significant progress at restoring the lake.
"Some of us had visions that we would accomplish more than what we have done," Beckstrom said, "but when we look at this document, we are further down the road than we were 12 months ago."
The commission approved changes based on recommendations from the technical committee and public comments. One was to clearly state that the commission did not take any stance on building a causeway across the lake to tie together the east shore with the rapidly growing west side.
The document said it would consider studies for the feasibility and need for such a project.
Lehi Mayor Howard Johnson also suggested that changing public perception of the lake -- one of the plan's goals -- be accomplished through education.
What's next
The Utah Lake Commission will conduct a public hearing on the Utah Lake Master Plan at 8:30 a.m. March 26 in the Historic Utah County Courthouse, 50 S. University Ave. The state will accept public comments for 45 days, after which the plan will be formally adopted in May or June.
The plan
» Develop access and use the lake for boating, fishing, windsurfing and canoeing.
» Restore beaches.
» Establish a bicycle and hiking trail along the shoreline.
» Restore the native June sucker fishery, along with other native species, and continue to eliminate invasive carp.
» Create a model ordinance for cities to adopt that would govern land use around the lake.
The final plan will be available at http://utahlakecommission.org