By Sara Melnicoff
I have a great idea. Let’s replace a serene riparian area with gravel! As an added bonus, we can speed up runoff during the next flash flood for additional downstream drama.
But it is for the children! Their bubbling laughter will fill this newly sanitized, gravel-filled area with only four of the existing 30 trees remaining to make way for a bike skills park at 100 East and 200 South. Don’t we care about the children?
But wait! Are our children really underserved regarding recreation opportunities, as stated by the director of Active Transportation and Trails? There is a bike jump area at Anonymous Park used by all ages that was slated to host the bike skills park, (but I guess it didn’t involve killing enough trees). There is a playground and a skate/bike park at Swanny City Park. There is the Moab Recreation and Aquatic Center, (when it reopens), with multiple activities.
We have city ball fields, with an onsite playground, and a gym next to City Hall that hosts many programs for children. The Sun Court has a basketball hoop. We have a playground, a basketball hoop, and musical instruments at Rotary Park. And a rock-climbing practice site at Lions Park. There is a bike skills area at the Old Spanish Trail Arena. Not to mention a peaceful, green, and very pleasant parkway that goes from one end of town to the other, made for slow biking, walking, skating, or any other non-motorized use. Oh, and I almost forgot — we have 200 miles of mountain bike trails that kids can practice on with their parents, just like they do now.
Are the kids really underserved?
In 2004, the Moab City Council approved a partnership with Moab Solutions, (known as Solutions then), to create Friends of the Parkway, active to this day. The Friends engage with the community to have the community care for this gem of an area. We have, collectively, removed thousands of pounds of trash and recycling, held an open university on site, done minor trail building and maintenance, and worked to help the many homeless who lived along this area for years and years. There are signs on the parkway in a few spots promoting this partnership, we are listed on the city’s own website, we visit with council once a year, on the August anniversary of the founding of the Friends group to give an update, yet despite all that, the current council doesn’t seem to realize we have a partnership. We were not asked to participate or give feedback regarding this project at the beginning. Had we been, collaborative efforts would have been undertaken to find a better solution to this location for the skills park.
Swanny Park is a great location. Anonymous Park is another great location and the adjacent sidewalk is already ADA compliant. Let’s leave the tranquil section of the parkway to the many people who find comfort and joy there. And hey! In our view, leaving the children of our children’s children an unspoiled and beautiful natural area may just inspire them to value and protect the natural world – that supports all life – while staying true to the city’s own general plan that states:
Policy 1 — Conserve sensitive undeveloped areas for riparian, wildlife, and watershed protection.
Action step B: preserve the flood channel along Mill Creek and Pack Creek as open space.
Action step D: Maintain watercourses to protect riparian and wildlife habitat.
Let’s choose a location that better serves the children and the entire community.
Melnicoff is the founder of Moab Solution. She writes from Moab.