UDOT: City can repurpose parking funds

The Moab City Council has until Sept. 1 to present a new plan for $8.3 million in state funding originally approved for a downtown parking structure. File photo
The Moab City Council has until Sept. 1 to present a new plan for $8.3 million in state funding originally approved for a downtown parking structure. File photo

The chair of Utah’s Transportation Commission said in a recent email to Grand County Council Member Curtis Wells that Grand County and the City of Moab have until Sept. 1 to come up with a new — or, possibly, the same — project to replace the city’s $8.3 million plan to build a parking structure in downtown Moab.

The announcement from Transportation Commission Chairperson Naghi Zeenati comes amid firm disagreement among Moab City Council members over whether to continue forward with the city’s plan to build the parking structure using funding allocated by the Transportation Commission or, as its critics have suggested, going back to the commission to ask that the money be reallocated for a different project.

The Moab City Council on Tuesday discussed two competing resolutions, one to do away with plans for the parking garage — including the termination of a contract with the firm designing the structure, which has already invoiced the city roughly $300,000 – and one to look into using the funding for a transit system. If that proved to be feasible, Plan B would be to continue with the parking garage.

Council members discussed the resolutions March 10 for about three hours before tabling the items at about 10:40 p.m. with the idea of continuing the discussion in a special meeting scheduled within a day or two. No such meeting had been scheduled as of press time Wednesday.

Zeenati’s statement to Wells clarified that the commission would indeed be open to Moab pursuing a different project with the $8.3 million in Recreation Hotspot Funding.

Moab City Council Member Karen Guzman-Newton, an opponent of the parking structure project, said that her hope is to see the money go toward a transit system.

Moab Mayor Emily Niehaus at a recent meeting expressed skepticism at the feasibility of that plan, questioning whether Moab would be able to support the ongoing operational costs that such a project would bring.