As Utah continues to grow and reshape its communities to accommodate more citizens while also providing opportunities for well-integrated outdoor recreation, it will require the full involvement and input of an informed local electorate.
A citizens group in Sandy, Utah, called the Dimple Dell Preservation Community is trying to mount an opposition campaign to prevent a proposed paved trail in the Dimple Dell Regional Park, which consists of an undeveloped area in a gully that extends from 700 East all the way up to the Wasatch Mountains.
Specifically, the group opposes a plan to pave an existing wood-chip trail in the park at a cost of $4.5 million. They insist that a paved trail would fundamentally change the nature of the park, and their slogan is “Keep Dimple Dell Wild.”
As it currently stands, the effort is unlikely to change county plans. Few people are likely even aware of the plan. While that’s not particularly surprising, it should be concerning as Utah begins a period of dramatic changes, especially as land is developed at Point of the Mountain and along the I-15 corridor. It suggests that many Utah residents may one day wake up to find changes to their neighborhoods and recreation areas that they didn’t anticipate or desire, and at that point, it will be too late to do anything about it.
It doesn't have to be that way. Information is available to residents managed and, just last November, Salt Lake County voters approved a $90 million bond, which includes $59 million to be spent on new recreation projects and $31 million to repair and improve existing areas and facilities, including Dimple Dell Park. So those who are concerned have ample opportunity to learn what the county government is planning to do, and they can also attend County Council meetings to voice their approval or disapproval of whatever they have in mind.
With regard to the more than 20,000 acres in between Sandy and Lehi that are part of an ongoing development puzzle being sorted out with the help of Envision Utah and the Point of the Mountain Development Commission, it will be critical for citizens to stay informed and involved to have their voices heard. We have previously praised Envision Utah for promising to “cast a broad net to gather public input for the deployment of the Draper acreage, which needs to be a process that is as open and transparent as possible.” And, just last week the group held public meetings in both Draper and Lehi.
Politics is contentious, and voters can feel frustrated that their opinions don’t matter to the people in power. Yet, at the local level such complaints aren't nearly as common. More often, officials are accessible and responsive, and when it comes to influencing policies, a motivated citizen can accomplish a great deal.
Those affected by local development plans should take every opportunity to let their voices be heard throughout the process, not just after a matter has been decided.