Oma E. Wilcox, an 82-year-old widow, is considered by many in Layton to be the matriarch of the city. She was Layton's first woman to sit on the City Council and served as the city's interim mayor for about six months.
She's lived in her historic home on east Gentile, built in 1877, for more than 37 years and says she has no need for curb, gutter and sidewalk.Now, due to construction of an LDS chapel for the Layton Holmes Creek Stake's 5th and 16th Wards, city officials believe the narrow, winding section of east Gentile in front of her property will become busy enough to require those improvements - and will need to be wider.
The city is considering establishing a special improvement district to pay for the additions and will make a final decision April 16 at 7 p.m., at a regular City Council meeting.
The 35-acre Wilcox property has about 1,000 feet fronting Gentile Street, and the city notified Wilcox on March 5 that installing curb, gutter and sidewalk along the frontage will cost her $91,000, at 10 percent interest.
"I can't afford to pay that kind of money," Wilcox said, explaining she doesn't believe the church creates the need for a wider roadway.
Her share would be more than half of the estimated $150,000 needed from the area landowners.
Layton City has been consistent on its previous special improvement districts and would consider it unfair to waive fees for Wilcox when it hasn't done so for anyone else.
Ironically, Wilcox sold the property on the west to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the chapel. The new church building will also house her own ward when it is completed in October. It's also interesting that another LDS Church is only a 10th of a mile down the road at 1410 E. Gentile.
"I couldn't say no to the church," she said, explaining she had no plans to ever sell any of the land. "I like farmland area."
When asked if she would have sold the land to the church if she knew what the ripple effect would be, she said she doubts it. Just recently, she has realized the church will probably block much of her view of the sunsets she enjoys watching.
The city also wants to widen Gentile Street about 12 feet between 1550 East and 1800 East, and it would pay for asphalt.
Wilcox said she knows of only one property owner of the 10 involved who seems to favor the improvement district.
"Some owners across the street are very much opposed to it," she said.
Wilcox's house is set back too far to be affected by the widening, but the project would wipe out some of her favorite trees and would require that a drainage ditch be piped.
She also fears the widening will create a sort of expressway through the area, especially because it leads to the Valley View Golf Course. She has heard rumors of the city wanting to block off the east entrance to Gentile from U.S. 89 and believes that would create more problems.
Wilcox hinted that in her day of involvement in city government, she would have found a different solution to a problem like this - one that doesn't involve so much tax money.