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IF WEBER LAND IS SWAPPED, WHY NOT GO FOR A TRAM, TOO?

SHARE IF WEBER LAND IS SWAPPED, WHY NOT GO FOR A TRAM, TOO?

Plans by Snowbasin owner Earl Holding to build a four-season resort has Mayor Glenn Mecham ready to dust off decades-old plans for a tramway up Mount Ogden.

Mecham recently joined Ogden City Council members in supporting a controversial Forest Service land swap with Snowbasin. Under that deal, Holding will trade 4,100 acres of his property for 1,320 forest acres.The U.S. House has approved the trade despite environmentalists' opposition. The swap now awaits Senate consideration.

Mecham believes the trade will not only improve Snowbasin's 2002 Winter Games venues but benefit the local economy. Thus, the tram idea.

"It would be an attraction in and above itself, independent of skiing," he said. "Various ski resorts have them to get people above and look at the scenery, regardless of the season."

The tram also could be used as a means for transportation for the thousands of visitors expected at Snowbasin in 2002 to watch downhill skiing events, he said.

"It provides a major inducement to accelerate the schedule for a tram," Mecham said. "There has been interest in it for decades. This was all pre-Olympic talk, but the additional transportation use may give it a valid public purpose" for some federal funding.

All other costs should be covered by private enterprise, the mayor said, but he said he did not know how much the project would cost.

Mecham predicted the tram would be more successful than the popular Bridal Veil Falls tram, which was destroyed in a January avalanche.

"Bridal Veils doesn't really go anywhere," he said. "This (the Ogden tram) would be a major tourist attraction and also could be large enough to have amenities to dine, shop and enjoy the view."