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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Green Valley Academy Response to: Guest post from area resident Laurel Kirkham

Guest Post By Mike Bulloch

The following is our response to Mrs. Kirkham's letter and other comments found within this site in relation to our proposal. We appreciate and respect the manner in which Mrs. Kirkham addresses points, without misrepresenting the student population we serve.  Many of the questions she raises are valid. However, several items need further clarification, as details will provide a more thorough view of our intentions.  Also, we have chosen to comment on some statements found on this site by other writers. 

KirkhamAs a Huntsville resident, and someone who could be very affected by the proposed Green Valley Academy, I would like to comment on why the folks on this side of the valley have so many concerns about this commercial business wanting to establish in our neighborhood. First, it must be addressed that we as a whole are not against this academy or the service that it provides. Many people over here are actually employed in this field. We have social workers, therapists, teachers and doctors who live here and support this type of facility. These children do need help and support and we applaud the fact that this group of doctors are trying to make a difference. The issues involved here are really about the bad fit of this facility into the middle of a rural neighborhood here in the valley.
It must also be mentioned that this is a private, for profit school with a $9500.00 per month tuition required. Times that by 36 students and you have $342,000.00 per month, or $4.1 million dollars a year. The boys that will be attending this school will not be from Utah but will be flown in from different parts of the country. They are children of the very wealthy, including celebrities and high profile people. This is not going to benefit Ogden Valley or Weber County in any way, except for the taxes that Weber County can garner from this commercial business. Ogden Valley residents pay an inordinate amount of property tax with very little to show for it, but now we will have the privilege of paying our heavy, heavy property tax, and have our property values depreciate at the same time. Sound fair? I don't think so!

GVA Response: (1) The issues involved here are really about the bad fit of this facility into the middle of a rural neighborhood here in the valley (Kirkham).
The proposed property is on 18 acres and is surrounded (to the north, south, and west) by many open acres, not to mention the undeveloped land of the nearby Monastery. The closest homes mentioned are to the east with acreage bordering neighboring properties.  We are not a program attempting to squeeze itself into “the middle” of a high density area (like other programs which currently exist throughout Weber County). Furthermore, the academy will preserve a large portion of land from becoming sub-divided in the future, which will promote the rural atmosphere.

(2) This is not going to benefit Ogden Valley or Weber County in any way (Kirkham). Academy directors have stated publicly and in writing that they hope to employ local residents who are qualified for available positionsThe Valley has many diverse and talented people who could provide contractual support in the arts, recreation, teaching, house staff, nursing, maintenance, organic gardening, equine, I.T., etc…  A number of valley residents are currently unemployed due to state, national, and local layoffs (see Wolf Creek), or are experiencing economic hardship.  Admittedly, Green Valley will not solve these issues, but we intend to be part of the solution by promoting clean growth and fulfilling employment. By stating there will be no benefit, seems out of touch with the economic conditions many in the valley currently face.

(3) Why is it such a novelty to work in the same area where you liveWhile some are fortunate to work nearby, the majority commuteIsn’t decreasing time and money spent on gasoline, reducing the amount of traffic, or eliminating the commute on hazardous winter roads a benefit to Valley residents?

(4) The tuition costs for the Academy have been raised both here and elsewhere (on this site or during meetings where directors addressed the community).  The opinions expressed have varied from not so subtle references—to accusations of greed, to concerns about the viability of our business model. The costs associated with providing a highly individualized, therapeutic environment which is fully staffed by licensed, trained professionals, who provide ongoing 24 hour supervision and support IS costly. Associated costs provide students with high quality, individualized education, room, board, recreational therapy, and scholarships for those in need. If costs were significantly lower, the concerns voiced would be,How can you provide professional support and supervision at such ‘cheap’ rates?”  The concerns mentioned regarding the economic viability of the Academy are valid.  However, we are confident that our experience and track records will mitigate these concerns, and Green Valley will be successful.  Furthermore, the proposed costs of the Academy are on par or lower than comparable programs which offer equal opportunities and services.

Kirkham: At the recent meeting in the Huntsville library with the directors of this proposed business, there were two women here to read more


Why Oh Why? said...

Mr Bulloch,

With all due respect, NO ONE wants this school for wayward kids in the Valley. Why do insist on shoving it down our throats?

Why not find a nice location in West Haven where the kids can learn how to work on a farm.

How will it benefit anyone in Ogden Valley?

Please tell us WHY.

Move On said...

Think of all the jobs it will create. NOT.

We don't live here because we want jobs at a treatment facility for delinquent kids, we live here for the serenity. WE ARE VERY HAPPY DRIVING DOWN THE CANYON TO WORK THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

Keep the loser kids in Westwood - we don't want them or your silly "academy."

thinking.... said...

Mr. Bulloch,

Thank you for taking the time to articulate your business plan. You have some good points, and some of them just may open my mind to wanting to help you all find a great place in the Valley to locate your Treatment Academy. However, NOT where you are proposing to put it. Not now, not ever. And not in some other neighborhood in the Valley. Lets face it, you can purchase this property for a great deal... way way below replacement and if the bank takes it, pennies on the dollar. You and your team are trying to convince the public that other commercial properties are similar (in the same zoning) and thus, your academy should be allowed to operate. YOUR ACADEMY is NOT similar and does not belong in a residential neighborhood. END OF STORY.

Wake up Ogden Valley ELECTED officials. If you dare to allow this kind of "conditional use permit" your days in representing this Valley are limited. We know you will do the right thing.