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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Provo Wetlands Development Concerns

Provo Northwest Connector and New Southgate Shopping Center Concerns
  • Provo City announced the Northwest Connector this month in the November Community Newsletter, which can be viewed online at:
  • http://www.provo.org/mayor.mayor_s_update_main.html.
  • The proposed road will run from Geneva Road in the 2000 North area to Center Street to the Provo Airport.
  • This area is very environmentally sensitive. The Provo River, wetlands and the Despain Ranch and Bird Refuge will all be impacted if this road is built. As a concerned resident of the area I voiced my concerns about this project at the Provo City Council meeting Nov. 20, 2006. The meeting is replayed on the Provo City channel 17 daily at 12.00 noon until the next meeting on Dec. 4th.
  • This road is partially a ripple effect of the Geneva Road expansion which will only be three lanes through Provo because of historic buildings along Geneva Road including the old tithing building on the west side of the street. The EIS on Geneva Road has already conducted traffic studies with the Northwest Connector and the Lakeshore Drive connectors already included in the traffic model. This road will not run through residential areas and will connect to the airport through the wetlands.
  • Provo City has also recently announced a new retail development to be located in East Bay, the Southgate Shopping Center. This new shopping development will be built over the Provo City Wetlands in this area. The city announcement addresses the wetland environmental issues associated with the develpment and can be viewed at http://www.provo.org/current_issues.southgate.html.
  • Here are the concerns I have about the proposed shopping mall regarding the wetlands:
  • I feel we are being shortchanged in the total amount of wetlands in our community by the new Southgate Shopping Center.
  • The Despain Ranch Bird Refuge was created in 2000 by the Utah Quality Growth Commission. The new shopping center has just been announced and the city is saying that they are replacing those wetlands with the Despain Ranch Wetlands.
  • The wetlands that are currently in the East Bay area on Kuhni Lane are locked, gated and fenced. You have to call for an appointment to visit this area, and I don’t want to see the wetlands locked up in the Despain Ranch wetlands area. Residents should be allowed to enjoy the natural beauty of the wetland without scheduling an appointment.
  • The proposed Northwest Connector and Lakeshore Drive Connector would make two new bridges over the Provo River in a very short area, approximately one mile or less apart. This would impact both the river, which is very fertile in these areas, and the river trail. The June Sucker fish and native trout would also be impacted. We are currently able to enjoy two miles of trail here without having to contend with automobile exhaust fumes, and I am concerned that we will lose the clean air here as a result of these roads. As a frequent visitor to the river trail I suggest that one bridge be built for both roads. Another suggestion regarding the bridge is that it be made high enough for canoeing, which is a favorite pastime here. The bridge should also allow birds and other wildlife to travel through it as well.
  • As far as the wetlands are concerned, the road would dissect this area and encourage development. This area should not be built on because Utah Lake and the Provo River can reclaim these lands for a number of reasons. We have seen this happen in the past and we need this area for a buffer zone. There is also Peteetneet soil in this area, which is rare and takes many years to form.
  • I am concerned that if airport truck traffic is allowed on this road, if it is built, we could possibly have fuel or chemical spills that would devastate the wildlife, groundwater and Utah Lake.
  • As far as both projects are concerned, Provo City is sending mixed messages. On one hand we are being told the wetlands will be improved and on the other we are being told that a road will have to be built through the wetlands for airport traffic. The EIS for the Northwest Connector should begin soon although a date has not yet been announced. The agency that will be building the road has not yet been announced yet however preliminary information indicates that it will not be UDOT, and it will most likely be Provo City.


Chair said...

Nice work on the posting!


GeorgeH said...

Thank you for this information. This is very helpful. I wonder if there is still time to change there minds. We will have to ask Mark Belk about this when he speaks to us, since he can probably give us more information about the impact of the road. I would love to get an alert the next time the council meets to discuss this, or do you think we should start going to the very next meeting and make a statement similar to yours?


George Handley

Healthy Biosphere said...

It would be great to have Mark provide information on the impacts of the road. I think there is still time, the EIS on the Northwest Connector hasn't started yet.
The Mayor did give a brief response about the road during the last council meeting Dec. 4th.
Regarding city meetings, they have not had a public meeting about this yet.
We can make comments to the council during the three minute public comment period at the start of the council meetings.