After nearly two years of debate, study and compromise, a research park appears to be on its way to materializing in the Riverbottoms area.

The city Planning Commission voted unanimously to designate 119 acres at approximately 5400 N. University Ave. as a research and business park zone, as requested by Riverfront Properties. The property had been zoned for agricultural and various residential uses.The Planning Commission also approved preliminary project plans submitted for the research park, known as RiverWoods. The City Council will decide Feb. 19 whether to accept the Planning Commission's decision.

If the council does, Dave Gardner and Randy Deschamps, agents for Riverfront Properties, will prepare and submit more detailed, final project plans to the Planning Commission. The final plans must include information on how a new bridge across the river near the entrance to the park and a traffic signal at the project's entrance on University Avenue will be financed.

The developers already have tenants lined up for the two buildings to be built in phase one of the project, which should get under construction this spring.

Along with construction of the project's first phase, Riverfront Properties will develop a jogging, bicycle and pedestrian path on the west side of the Provo River as it meanders through the site from 4800 North to 5600 North. The developer will also renovate the equestrian trail that runs along University Avenue between those two points.

A handful of residents of the area attended the Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday to speak for or against the research park.

Eric Christensen, representing the North Gate neighborhood, said his group supports the research park and is particularly pleased the trail system will be completed through the area.

Steve Jaussi and Boyd Rawlins, both Riverbottoms residents, asked the commission to not allow initial development to take place east of the Provo River on property adjacent to University Avenue.

"If the project fails we will have buildings and everything else and we've already been crapped on as a neighborhood," Jaussi said.

The first phase also will bisect part of the Edgewood neighborhood, they said.

The decision to develop along University Avenue first was market-driven, Gardner said. Originally the developers plan to begin the project on a site west of the river. To offset that change, Riverfront Properties agreed to begin immediately on the trail systems.

The Planning Commission chose to have the section of road at the 5600 North bridge closed, but to allow Carterville Road to continue to serve as a local street. Eventually Carterville Road will be connected to 300 West.

There will be two primary entrances into the research park - one at 300 W. 4800 North and the new bridge, which is at approximately 5350 North University Ave.

The research park will extend from 4800 North (Orem's Center Street) to approximately 6000 North between University Avenue and the Orem bench. The acreage is divided into 13 larger parcels, which probably will be broken down into smaller lots as the the park develops.