Weber State University officials are eying a vacant patch of Hooper as a possible branch campus to serve fast-growing western Weber County.
This Friday, the Utah State Board of Regents will consider Weber's proposal to purchase 10 acres at 5193 W. 5500 South for $900,000. The money would come from the sale of land donated to the Ogden university, according to documents furnished to the Regents.
In recent years, the university has operated its West Center out of rented space in a Roy strip mall, serving as many as 500 students.
"It's been very successful. It is our hope long-term to have a permanent home for the West Center," said Weber President Ann Millner. "At 10 acres, [the Hooper site] would be a small campus, but it would provide a land bank for that."
Hooper Mayor Korry Green said he was not aware of the Weber proposal, but his initial reaction was that it could benefit his town.
"It sounds like a good deal, activity that might bring in more commercial activity," he said.
Hooper, formerly called Muskrat Springs, abuts the Great Salt Lake between the Ogden Bay and Howard Slough wildlife management areas. The agricultural community, which hosts a Labor Day tomato festival, is urbanizing as Weber County's growth pushes west.
Its population, now 7,200 residents, has nearly doubled since it incorporated 12 years ago.
Weber State is already busy expanding its Layton campus, while other Utah schools are developing satellites to bring higher education to other areas experiencing growth. Salt Lake Community College has plans for a campus in Herriman and Utah State University is converting the former Intermountain Indian School into a regional campus serving Brigham City. USU also has been given land to expand USU Eastern, the former College of Eastern Utah, in Price.
Also at Friday's Regents meeting in Cedar City, Weber officials will seek permission to sell some Kaysville property donated by the family of Elizabeth Barnes. The 4.73-acre lot at 122 N. Flint St. is one of several the family donated and the last to be sold. Weber is considering a $510,000 bid, which exceeds the lot's appraised value, according to the document submitted to the Regents.
There is no immediate plan to develop the Hooper site should Weber's purchase go through, but officials envision a community college-like branch there someday. Millner says that now is the best time to acquire the land, which is near a proposed highway and booming residential development.
"This anticipates that continued growth and allows us to be prepared for the future," Millner said. "We anticipate easy access off the future extension of Legacy Highway."
The alignment of the highway extension is the subject of some controversy and construction could be 10 to 20 years away, Green said.