Marshall White Retribution?
She made the unprecedented move as a member of the Ogden City Planning Commission to propose a recommendation for a new project, it passed, and now she’s out. Angel Castillo is the face of a movement for Ogden City to put the Marshall White Center front-and-center when it comes to budget talks, even recommending they build an entirely new community center. To her surprise, the motion passed the planning commission on March 4, in a 6-2 vote. Days later Castillo got word her tenure was up.
Director of Community and Economic Development, Tom Christopulos drafted the letter March 9, five days after the controversial vote. Castillo found it in her mailbox Friday afternoon. In it, Christopulos writes, “Upon
recommendation of the Community and Economic Development Department, Mayor Caldwell has submitted to the city council four new planning commission nominees, including a replacement for your position.”
Robert Herman and Janith Wright are the two other members sent a letter from Ogden City, both voted in favor of the motion. According to Greg Montgomery, City Planning Director, Herman has served for 20 years and Wright for 16.
Commission terms procedurally last two years, but Castillo was on the planning commission for nearly three. Her term was up back in July 2018, but Mayor Mike Caldwell had yet to act on reappointments. Castillo did not ask to be released from her position, hoping to continue to serve on the commission. “It’s disappointing. There’s no longer a watch dog for this community.”
While Castillo has her walking papers, three other commission members, Jennifer Sandau, Bryan Schade and Dave Graf, are scheduled to be reappointed at the March 17 meeting. All three have served longer than their official first terms, which ended last summer. The last of the nine commission seats has been vacant for over a year.
Castillo, who also ran against Mayor Mike Caldwell in last year’s election, questions if her removal is connected to her pushing for the Marshall White Center and proposing the city council recommend a new major capital project. Montgomery says this is not the case, “No, we’ve been talking about appointments since November.”
The March meeting focused on plans for the pool, plans that have been two years in the making since devastating cracks were discovered, forcing a permanent closure. “We have to have a timeline. We’ve strung along these people for two years. This economically challenged community depends on that center,” says Castillo.
Ogden City did list the pool in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) with a $90 thousand price tag, although an outside consulting company recommended at least $2 million in repairs. The CIP prioritizes projects and costs, so a change to that could mean a change to the official budget. Castillo explained, “The administration doesn’t want to commit to anything because they want money for other things. They don’t want to spend money on the East Central and Jefferson neighborhoods.”
One of those projects is the $1.4 million replacement of the Ogden City Golf Course’s irrigation system. “I don’t have anything against the plan, it’s just not immediate. They can patch those pipes. The Marshall White pool is for those in the community.”
In her two-pronged motion before the planning commission, Castillo wrote the CIP changed, moving the center to the city’s top priority and allocate the recommended funds to build a new pool. She went on to motion the city council “explore the potential for developing a new center on the footprint of the Marshall White Center in an incremental fashion with simultaneous build/demolition allowing the Marshall White Center to remain open.”
Those on the planning commission do not usual present their own project ideas, something Castillo says is legal and written in policy. Even though her motion did pass in the planning commission, they cannot approve the actual project or the amount of money.
The Marshall White Center could soon be the city’s top priority in the CIP, surpassing a $4 million plan for Bus Rapid Transit along 23rd and 25th streets and earthquake proofing fire Station 4.
Castillo’s motion will be discussed at the next Ogden City Council meeting, March 17. This will also be the meeting she is officially removed from her planning commission seat. On Friday, Ogden City announced that meeting will not accept public comment and ask “the public temporarily limit attendance at public meetings.” Surrounding cities like North Ogden West Haven cancelled their city council meetings. Ogden Administrators say comments can be submitted using a Public Comment Submission Form found on Ogden’s website.
Neil Garner, Rick Safsten, Jessica Stoker and Wesley Boykin are the new appointees selected by Mayor Mike Caldwell, although according to Greg Montgomery, the mayor has yet to meet them.
I reached out to Mayor Mike Caldwell, he has yet to return my calls.