OGDEN -- The city is sponsoring a dedication ceremony Friday commemorating completion of the first phase of a $6.3 million effort to clean up a polluted downtown section of the Ogden River.
The aim of the daylong celebration is to highlight the transformation taking place along a 1.1-mile stretch of the river between Washington Boulevard and Gibson Avenue.
The public is invited throughout the day to wander along paths, visit exhibit booths and participate in kayaking and fishing demonstrations on the river.
Volunteers will work on various service projects along the waterway, and Mayor Matthew Godfrey will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. on the river's banks at Childs Avenue.
Godfrey said Friday's ceremony will mark a significant accomplishment. Work on the project began in January 2010.
"The river project has been a very challenging and rewarding project," he said in an email to the Standard-Examiner.
"We faced bitter opposition when we began the project, and it was difficult to help people catch the vision of what could transpire here. With the river restoration now nearing completion, this is already becoming a popular venue, and people can see the great potential for this property in downtown.
"We are grateful for those who shared in this vision and helped bring it to this stage of completion."
The Utah Water Quality Board has already provided about $2.1 million for the project.
The Central Weber Sewer Improvement District has contributed $825,000, and an additional $800,000 is coming from city storm water improvement bonds. Weber County and the Habitat Council each contributed more than $200,000, and Blue Ribbon Fisheries gave more than $100,000, said Justin Anderson, the city's engineer.
Work along the river has been completed from the Kiesel Avenue bridge to Wall Avenue. Efforts to clean up a section of the river along Wall Avenue west of Gibson Avenue are ongoing and should be complete in the spring, Anderson said.
The goal of the project is to stabilize the riverbanks, improve water flow, provide aquatic food sources and offer pedestrian access points to the river, including a public viewing area on the south side of the river off Childs Avenue.
Vegetation is being planted to buffer pollution sources, reduce channel temperatures and provide aquatic food sources.
Anderson said he's pleased with the improvements that have been made to the river.
"It's gone from a nuisance and eyesore to a treasure right in the middle of town."