On Wednesday, April 4, the City of Moab held an open house to receive feedback from citizens concerning plans for downtown reconstruction. Many residents gave feedback concerning parking, pedestrian safety, bike lanes, lighting and a bypass as Avenue Consultants’ Thomas McMurtry took notes.
“I honestly didn’t have any preconceived notions,” McMurtry said of the meeting. “We had started to formulate some ideas around those things, and we took the next six weeks just to collect data on it.”
Avenue Consultants met with city council prior to the meeting, but before they formulate any plans, they are considering the ideas of Moab’s residents.
Dottie Byrd, owner of The T-Shirt Shop, was one of many concerned citizens who attended the meeting to give her opinion on parking downtown.
“To take away the downtown parking would be absolutely devastating,” she said. “If somebody is working downtown and they park in front to go my store, I leave a note on their car and ask them not to park in front of my store. It has a direct relation to what our sales are that day.” She continued, “We have so many merchants unique to our wonderful town and so many galleries that work with so many artists, and it would be a shame to lose all of us, and you would.”
Byrd is also concerned about plans for bike lanes in the area surrounding her store. “The bikes shouldn’t be there anyway ... it’s not safe,” she commented.
A Utah Department of Transportation study concerned with the safety of on-street parking suggested removing parking on the north end of town. According to McMurtry, though, street parking downtown is safe.
“The number one thing that was most commented on in the meeting was on-street parking. I think the reason that came up was because of the UDOT study on the north end of town, and I think that because they were potentially removing parking up there, that rippled through the community,” McMurtry explained. “We want to look at parking downtown but the idea was never that we were going to remove all on-street parking downtown. The city has asked us to clean up illegal parking, and they have asked us to make things more aesthetic.”
Debbie Slechta, owner of It’s Sew Moab, spoke of the parking lot next to her store, of one of the only public parking lots in downtown Moab.
“It’s just this tiny little alley,” Slechta said of the entrance to the lot. “Naturally, to me, it seems like it would have to widen on both ends somehow. I think the city should definitely use that property, but it would be better if it were closer to the road.”
Slechta also raised concerns about the accessibility of ramps that flank the alley entrance to the lot, saying, “There’s also a ramp here, and many locals will stop here to get wheelchairs out, and that was the concern I brought up at the meeting.” She continued, “If we’re going to have this parking garage, and that’s going to be the opening for it, how is that going to affect those people with wheelchairs? Because those people are definitely stopped.”
The meeting, in addition to an online survey, provided plenty of data for Avenue Consultants to work with.
“We did learn a lot,” said McMurtry. “We got over 430 online surveys completed, plus comment cards and maps ... For me, the next step is to take all the comments we’ve heard and turn them into questions for specific projects. We’re going to ask specifics of the people coming up, and then when we have those answers, we’ll formulate final plans."