Oakley begins to transform | ParkRecord.com

Oakley begins to transform

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

The newest addition to Oakley is the 1940s Road Island Diner that was hoisted onto a crane Wednesday and taken from a parking lot on Center Street to 981 Weber Canyon Road.

"The diner will be so unique because there isn’t another one like it in the United States," said Keith Walker, who owns the diner.

He expects the restaurant to open in May serving "comfort food," like mashed potatoes, gravy and meatloaf.

"I just think it’s going to be a real cornerstone for the whole valley," Walker said.

The diner was built in Elizabeth, N.J. and featured at the New York World’s Fair in 1939, Walker explained.

"It’s probably 90 percent original," he said.

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The business could help spur a slew of new commercial development Oakley officials hope could transform the city famous for its Fourth of July rodeo into a thriving downtown district.

"The diner is the anchor for that," Walker said.

Wednesday about 50 people met at Oakley Town Hall to decide which other types of businesses belong downtown and what they should look like. The open house featured a presentation from members of the city’s Community Center Concept Committee who recently visited the town of Sisters, Ore.

"We brought pictures back, and basically, that’s what we want Oakley to look like," Oakley planner Tami Stevenson said about the Oregon city. "We’re looking toward more of an old western, 1900s theme with that kind of architecture."

Oakley Planning Commissioner Alton Frazier envisions saloon-like buildings on Center Street featuring wooden awnings over boardwalks with walkout porches upstairs.

"We hope that there will be some residential over the top of the retail," Frazier said.

The city owns most of the five acres slated for redevelopment downtown.

"A grocery store is the first priority," Frazier said, adding that the building that currently houses Ken’s Kash Store will likely be demolished.

But a service station in Oakley could remain, he said.

There is a monument in Oakley to pay homage to Native Americans who lived in the Kamas Valley. The statue could become a focal point for a pedestrian plaza featuring a fountain and benches at the old rodeo grounds.

"A place where people could saunter and sit," Frazier explained.

Merchants hope to attract customers from the nearly 2,000 cabins situated east of Oakley in the foothills of the Uinta Mountains.

"We’re looking at redeveloping the streets in the town so we have more of a town square that is walkable," Stevenson said. "But we don’t want it to be a destination city. The goal of Oakley City is to keep it a middle class-type of town and we’re trying to steer away from gated communities."

According to Frazier, "the people who live here have already said make this for the people who live in Oakley."

"We want it to continue to be a really comfortable, safe place," he said.

But because Oakley’s population of roughly 1,300 is expected to surge, officials must establish guidelines to control growth, Stevenson said.

"We want some control and say on what we want, as far as what the town looks like," she said. "We don’t want somebody coming in here and putting in cement buildings."

Contact the city of Oakley at (435) 783-5734 for more information.