Four Davis County cities have submitted potential sites for a new higher-education facility, and each now hopes to top the list being decided by a site-selection committee.
Layton, Kaysville and Syracuse submitted one location each, while Farmington recommended two. Centerville originally took part but has withdrawn.The 14-member Davis County Higher Education Site Selection Committee toured all locations this week and plans to make a decision Aug. 19 - one of the initial moves in a multistep process.
"To keep this as nonpolitical as possible, we've developed a judging scale with points for different aspects of the project," said committee chairman Lloyd Carr.
Points are allocated for such things as road access, earthquake danger, wetlands hassles, noise levels and the price tag, among other things. State officials helped the committee devise the point system. A population study also is under way to predict where future students will originate.
Each site will be ranked, and the committee's top choice will be forwarded to the Davis Higher Education Board. From there, the issue will go to the Utah State Board of Regents, possibly as early as its Sept. 23 meeting.
Ultimately, plans are to have enough information and decision-making done by November so Gov. Mike Leavitt can include money in his upcoming budget to pursue the project further.
The Legislature last session allocated $1 million for an option on property for a land bank. The reasoning was that large parcels wouldn't be around long in fast-growing Davis County and the area will soon need some kind of additional higher education campus.
Just what type of "campus" is unclear right now, Carr said. This could turn out to be a free-standing school on its own, some kind of satellite university or community college, a location for computer-assisted "distance learning" drawing on the resources of many schools, or some new variation of higher education delivery that has yet to be developed.
The prospects are exciting, according to Carr. What's more, the selection process has produced what he described as fine cooperation among people representing different interests.
"Something wonderful has happened," Carr said. "We don't have the bickering in the group that, `It has to be in the north because I'm from the north,' or `It has to be in the south.' We're really trying to look at what's best for the county."
Officials are careful to refer to the potential site as a "higher education facility," but many Davis County residents are talking hopefully about a "community college."
Also, Weber State University officials are eager for a Davis location for a permanent WSU satellite campus. WSU currently leases Davis County space to provide classes. WSU's main Ogden campus also draws substantial numbers of Davis County residents as students.
"It (a satellite campus) has been a major thrust in our strategic planning," said Al Simkins, WSU vice president for administrative services. "Certainly, Weber State has been heavily involved in serving the educational needs of that area, and we want to continue to be in a position to do that."
1. Layton. 100 acres between 1200 W. and U-193 east of I-15.
2. Kaysville. 120 acres east of U.S. 89 between 850 N. in Fruit Heights and Crestwood Road.
3. Syracuse. 108 acres at 1000 W. and 1700 S.
4. Farmington. 142 acres on Clark Lane near the Davis County Fairgrounds.
5. Farmington. 141 acres south of I-15, west of Lagoon.