Plans for proposed ‘Moab Giants’ dinosaur park move closer to reality
by Charli Engelhorn
staff writer
Jan 19, 2012 | 10052 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Life-size dinosaur models, such as this one, will be located at exhibit points along the outdoor trails of the Moab Giants Dinosaur Park. Representatives for the developers said the models used at the Moab theme park will represent the specific types of dinosaurs that once lived in the area. Photo courtesy of Russell Planning and Engineering
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A proposal to build an open-air dinosaur museum and park north of Moab is back on track, developers said Tuesday night. The proposed Moab Giants Dinosaur Park, slated for construction at the intersection of U.S. 191 and state Route 313, will include life-size dinosaur displays located along outdoor walking trails, an indoor museum and research facilities for scientists, developers said during a public hearing during the Grand County Council meeting this week.

Only a handful of local residents attended Tuesday night’s public hearing to learn more about the proposed dinosaur park. Jeff Pillus, a representative for Russell Planning and Engineering, gave a presentation outlining the uses of the park and provided a three-dimensional tour of the proposed facilities. The council will accept public comments on the proposal until Feb. 1 at 5 p.m.

The property for the proposed park is located seven miles north of Moab and includes approximately 43.5 acres. In 2009, the Grand County Planning Department and the county council approved a rezone of the area to resort special (RS) in preparation for the application from the theme park’s developers. Under the county’s land use code, the RS zoning requires specific standards for building and site design, signage, and general development in order to comply, according to Grand County Community Development Director Kristine Braun.

A number of requests from the planning department and required approval from additional agencies delayed the project at that time, Braun said. However, the applicants received approval from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality for the project’s water and septic systems at the end of 2011 and Horrocks Engineers, which provides engineering services to Grand County, approved the project’s storm-water drainage system, according to documents provided by the county planning commission.

“Water will be hauled to the site and stored in 20,000 gallons total, split up into two underground storage tanks. There will be fire suppression system in all the buildings, as well as a hard suction line that meets [Moab Fire] Chief [Corky] Brewers’ quick connection requirements,” said Pillus. “The volume is sufficient for three days of domestic storage, the fire suppression system, and irrigation and peak use in the summer months.”

Pillus said that sewer service would be handled by an onsite disposal system, which would function as a large-scale septic system with an infiltration bed. He also said that although the development includes a section of Seven-Mile Wash within the property boundaries, there are no formal stream crossings, and the space will remain open in that area.

“We have used the [RS zoning] criteria as a checklist to design the project in accordance with the county’s plan for the north corridor,” said Pillus. “The view from [SR] 313 and [U.S.] 191 was a concern as far as buffering… so view corridors are preserved. The site will be fairly well buffered with vegetation… the trees are staggered to create that buffering. We tried to mimic the density and style and also the types of vegetation you would find in the area.”

The park is part of the Paleo-Safari project, created by the Polish Geological Institute in 2003 to preserve dinosaur tracks throughout the world, according to Pillus. Delta Association, a non-profit organization supporting paleontological projects, came on board in 2004 and began constructing outdoor dinosaur parks and museums at sites across the globe that contain dinosaur tracks. Pillus said several parks already exist in Europe and are well attended.

The Moab Giants facility is being designed to accommodate many uses, Pillus said. The main buildings at the facility will be used for an indoor museum, retail sales and concessions, including a 76-seat café area, exhibit storage, and offices for visiting scientists and park operations. There will also be a 50-seat theater where patrons can learn about the history of the land in the area, Pillus said.

Outdoor exhibits will incorporate life-sized, detailed dinosaur models created by Dinoproduct, a company well known for making the best full-scale dinosaur models using a marriage of business and science, according to Pillus. Those models are created under the close supervision of a paleontologist to ensure accuracy and they are made with environmentally friendly materials that are highly resistant to the elements.

Pillus said the facility will also serve as a base camp for Dr. Gerard Gierlinski, the head paleontologist for the Paleo-Safari Project, and other visiting scientists and educational groups for field studies in the Southwestern United States.

Construction was slated to begin this summer, but Pillus said he anticipates that other issues may arise that could cause developers to push back the start date.

County council members will vote on the resolution at their Feb. 7 meeting. Comments may be emailed to the county at council@grand.ut.gov. Written comments may also be submitted by mail or in person to the Grand County Council office on Center Street.

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