We need to preserve northern San Juan

Editor,

This letter is a response to Aug. 15 edition’s My View written by a professional citizen journalist, the managing editor of and freelance writer for The Free Range Report. It breaks my heart, when for no good reason folks selling an ideology try to divide us from each other.

Making reference to classism, snobbery, disgraced FBI agents, Trump supporters as smelly Walmart shoppers, Palm Springs, native hicks, hayseeds and deplorables is shameful and has zero to do with local residents attending meetings and learning what is planned for their community.

I went to my first meeting in March when I heard about the development of a plan for northern San Juan County. One of the first people I met is a member of the Northern San Juan Coalition and the granddaughter of Utah Pioneers, grew up in Spanish Valley, raised her children here and served on the San Juan Planning and Zoning Commission.

Others have lived in Spanish Valley for at least 25 years. There are 93 members of the coalition and it is growing. I have lived in Spanish Valley and now Pack Creek for 19 years and attended the same meeting “reported on” in My View at which Landmark Design presented three options for the development of the corridor on Highway 191.

What we learned at the beginning of the discussion portion of the meeting was that local business owners–including the owner of Morris’s Last Resort–and many, if not most, residents of northern San Juan were not contacted to participate in early focus groups about northern San Juan’s development and knew nothing about the process. We were all in the same boat.

Perhaps the early process was flawed because Landmark’s initial employer SITLA provided insufficient information on who lives in northern San Juan and how to reach them. Or perhaps it was because in northern San Juan, we are so used to having decisions made for us by a few people.

Early meetings were advertised only in the Record. Recently San Juan County also hired them. To their credit, Landmark recognized that many people had not heard about the process and held more meetings. It is simply false to claim that what is finally becoming an open and democratic process is a subversion of that process.

Love’s from the get-go proposed a dark skies ordinance and I doubt they got the idea from North Korea. Dark skies does not mean dark ground. It means lights that point down and not up. It is not a safety issue.

Walmart did not pull out because of opposition from Moab politicians. Walmart pulled out because they learned from Kroger that they would struggle to hire and retain employees and because, at the suggestion of another business owner, they visited Moab in January and discovered that Moab is not a year-round town.

Regarding the supermarket chain Aldi’s: Aldi’s prices beat Kroger’s and Walmart’s in more than one study. Google it. They are putting 900 more stores in communities before 2022. Convenience stores are expensive and carry few products. Spanish Valley could use a good grocery store and a clothing store.

All of us need to work together to preserve the rural character of northern San Juan while planning to develop what local residents need and want and what will help keep our kids here in the future. Please, no more B.S.

– Sheila Canavan
Northern San Juan County