On Thursday, July 9, Jane and I along with many neighbors attended the monthly meeting of the Logan Planning and Zoning Commission. One of the topics on the agenda was the proposed Logan Light and Power substation to be constructed in the approximate area of 1850 East and 1500 North on the designated Deer Pen Park site near our homes.
Logan is one of Utah’s fastest growing cities, and there is a need for a northeast substation to supply the increase of power. Over the past 10 years, the city has been working on line and substation upgrades from substation No. 2 on Canyon Road to substation No. 6 on 1000 North and 300 East, and they upgraded transformers in both locations. These are the main feeders for everything from 400 East to 2000 East and from 700 North to 1500 North.
The two circuits have been handling the load. With expansion to the hospital and the Innovation Campus, the demand for power has increased by two megawatts with plans for future expansions in both locations.
Several new projects will add an additional 4-6 megawatts. The city just finished hooking up the Foothill Loft development of 240 apartments on 1200 East and 1250 North along with the Hidden Cove of 30 apartments. An additional 76 apartments are being constructed at 800 North and 800 East (on campus), with each apartment having 4 – 6 bedrooms; this building will be eight stories tall. At the intersection of 1200 East and 1400 North, plans have been submitted for the Sugar Plum Subdivision in the old gravel pit location, consisting of approximately 150 more homes.
USU will soon construct a motel/hotel behind Old Chicago Pizza. With all this new construction, the electrical system in this area will become overloaded. The city has been working with USU the last couple of months to secure property near this area to build a new substation, however, all options to date have been rejected.
We are told the proposed Deer Pen Substation would be a low-profile substation with block fencing and decorative trees and landscape. The neighbors in this area are very concerned about this. The substation will be very visible in the middle of the park. Many of the current residents in the northeast section of town recently met and sent this letter to USU President Cockett:
“Dear President Cockett,
We are writing to you as community members who live near Utah State University. Utah State has been a good neighbor to us. We love our proximity to all of the wonderful athletic events, musical performances, and academic opportunities that the university offers. Many of us work at USU or are USU alumni. We were delighted, but not surprised, to hear that USU was recognized with the Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, a designation awarded because of USU’s emphasis on community engagement and partnerships within the surrounding communities.
We are now reaching out to you about another opportunity for USU to work with its surrounding community. We were recently contacted by the Logan City Planning Commission about installing a substation at approximately 1880 E 1500 N in the recreation zone. We attended a Planning Commission meeting on July 9 and learned about the need to distribute more electricity in large part due to recent building projects near the university, Foothill Lofts, the expansion of USU’s Innovation campus, and a proposed hotel near Old Chicago Pizza. We also learned that the Planning Commission had initially hoped to install the substation on university property rather than intrude on a recreation area.
We are concerned about the potential safety issues for children who frequently play in the area where the substation is planned to be installed. They also cross the street right by the potential location, and we worry about impaired visibility for drivers in that area. Furthermore, we are saddened by the thought of losing green space that we all value and use regularly. The visual impact of the substation will degrade the experience of those hiking the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. USU students, faculty, and staff regularly use the trail and enjoy the striking views of the Wellsville Mountains. An electrical substation erected just a few hundred yards east of the trail will undoubtedly spoil one of the greenspace jewels of our community. Though we understand the need for development, we feel that the natural beauty of our valley, particularly those neighborhoods close to USU, is worth preserving for future generations.
Logan City Power has identified a number of potential sites for the substation on USU property. Some of these sites simply require an expansion of currently existing substations, others are located in low-profile or industrial areas of the city. We’re hoping these options could be reconsidered, given the potential degradation of greenspace and the safety concerns related to erecting an electrical substation at 1880 E 1500 N.
We love living near USU and hope we can continue to work together in the spirit of community engagement. Thank you for your consideration.”
The final decision to all of this, in my opinion, lies with the Logan City Council and the mayor. I know them all personally and trust their decision. When I was on the council, we had to make some pretty tough decisions, but only after hearing “the full story” in each situation. The neighbors in this area have always been very interested in parks and green space. Many years ago, the city said they would provide a park east of 1600 East. The plan was not being followed, and so the residents gathered together and with rakes and personal equipment, graded the area and planted the lawn. The city did finally provide the grass seed. The following year, the neighbors again requested play equipment, to no avail, so they provided it themselves. Lundstrom Park is a beautiful park that’s well-used. We were told the park would continue across the canal and become part of a walking trail. Now this is where the city wants to put the substation! There are other options. Better options. This area is permanent. To put a cinder block substation in a lovely walking trail for the citizens of this community makes no sense.
Jay Monson is a former educator, and also served on the Utah State Board of Education, Cache County Council, and Logan City Council. He may be reached at email@example.com