Interesting story in the S.L. Trib yesterday about Mayor Matthew Godfrey and his efforts to redevelop Ogden. You can read it here (click!)
Nice to see Ogden finally make news in Salt Lake media that doesn’t involve murders or other disasters.
My take: The story’s about right. I’ve been one of the critics it mentions as going after his tendency to hold things too close to the vest (see my column of May 17, I think it was) and push people around, and I’d love to beat that gondola idea of his into a bloody pulp once and for all.
On the other hand there’s no arguing with the successes he’s had. The Junction is moving along pretty well, downtown Ogden has a nice feel to it, especially lower 25th Street, and things in general seem to be at least holding firm despite the recession.
On the other other hand, one has to be careful about giving him too much credit. The owners of Ogden Blue and Karen’s Cafe, for example, really get most of the credit for revitalizing lower 25th Street — between just those two privately and locally owned businesses they probably doubled traffic down there.
Other shop owners, such as Olde Salt Bikes, do their share as well, and these people are all there on their own nickel. The mayor didn’t induce them to set up shop, they set up shop based on their love and dedication for Ogden. Karen, at Karen’s Cafe, has never been a huge admirer of Mayor Godfrey, but she is a huge fan of Ogden.
Which is really what it’s all about.
Sure, many things have stalled — the river parkway development hit a wall when the recession hit, but I decline to blame Mayor Godfrey for the recession. Still, his continual pushing of the gondola thing is a distraction when he should be cleaning up projects already underway.
I especially liked the comment from one resident who noted that previous mayors didn’t get criticized like Godfrey has, “but they didn’t do anything either.”
I wouldn’t go that far — Glenn Mecham laid the groundwork for much of the devleopment we see today – but there’s no denying the pace picked up under Godfrey, and his emphasis on outdoor sports companies has had success.
So, credit where it’s due, with the usual caveats.