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OREM — At least one of Orem's citizens has been very outspoken in criticizing a proposal that would see the Cascade Golf Center turned into a private neighborhood for Vivint CEO Todd Pedersen and his family, with the city getting a public sports complex in return.
City officials and a real estate consultant, on the other hand have said the city will benefit from the creation of three soccer fields under the city's control. Citizens will be able to weigh in at a public hearing Tuesday night.
Here's what's happening: In 1966 Orem City signed a lease with the Stratton family, now owned by Kevin Stratton, which gives him the right to run the land as a golf course in return for $537 each year, paid to the city, according to Orem town manager Bruce Chestnut. That lease lasts until 2066.
According Chestnut, there's not much the city can do with that land, and it can't renegotiate a new use for it unless Stratton wants to. Instead, Stratton has chosen to sell the rights to the lease.
Pedersen has agreed to pay Stratton millions of dollars for the lease rights, according to Chestnut, though the city still technically owns the land. After he purchases the rights, Pedersen has said he will pay for the construction of a park in return for the city releasing his obligation to run it as a golf course.
Without that obligation, Pedersen would instead build a gated community with a large home for himself, as well as 12 other homes which he intends for use mostly by his family and some friends, according to consultant Bruce Dickerson. The rest of the land would be free for use by the city, with the agreement that Pedersen would pay for a sports complex that includes three soccer fields at a cost of roughly $2.5 million.
The deal can't go through without the City Council agreeing to allow it. The public will be able to weigh in on the proposal at a public hearing, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and the Council will take a final vote.
Local resident Ivan Gray has been telling his neighbors that the city and its residents are getting a raw deal and losing out on potentially public land.
"It's such a short sighted answer to a long-term problem," Gray said of the deal. Gray said the city has been looking for a place to build new soccer fields for some time, and has found a way to get them through this proposal.
But he also said it's not worth losing 34 acres to a residential development that largely benefits Pedersen and not the wider community. Gray claims everyone he has talked to is against the deal, especially seniors who are "hopping mad" about losing the golf course for soccer fields that benefit primarily young people.
"The only people who support the city doing this are people who are receiving largess from Todd Pedersen," Gray said.
Dickerson disagrees. He said that in talking with neighbors and residents near the park, he's seen a lot of support for the project.
"The neighborhood is feeling that this is a positive thing," he said, noting that the only resistance he has seen has been over potential traffic difficulties in the area.
Dickerson, who has no financial stake in the proposal, said he got involved because he really believes in the project, and helped bring all parties to a compromise.
"I don't know of a larger financial gift to Orem City — and I've lived here 35 years — than this one," Dickerson said.
Both he and Chestnut valued the 20-acre park — after improvements have been made, of course, — at around $6.5 million, including the soccer fields, a 280 stall parking lot and traffic improvements.
Dickerson said that even if the Council votes against the proposal, Pedersen will still be buying the lease rights.
"(Pedersen) will own a very expensive golf course," he said.
Pedersen was not available for comment.