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Murray Journal

Canal Trail resolution approved, city to provide primary trail maintenance

May 10, 2017 09:50AM ● By Travis Barton

Community members address the Murray City Council at the April 4 meeting in regards to the city’s involvement in development of the Canal Trail along the Jordan and Salt Lake Canal. (Mandy Ditto/City Journals)

By Mandy Ditto | [email protected]

The Murray City Council passed a resolution to move forward with an interlocal agreement between the city and Salt Lake County to further develop the Canal Trail, which will begin at Fontaine Bleu Drive and follow the Jordan and Salt Lake Canal to Wheeler Historic Farm.

More than 25 citizens shared their opinions, concerns and ideas at the council meeting on April 4, with many for further development of the trail, and many against it. The interlocal agreement means that Murray City will be primarily in charge of maintenance and development of the trail, instead of Salt Lake County, and they will have three years to begin improvements since it passed.

Much of the money used for trail development comes from a Utah Department of Transportation grant of $200,000 in which the first $100,000 must be used by September 2017, and the second $100,000 by September 2018, said Doug Hill, the public services director.

The council voted 3-2 in favor of the agreement, though most council members hoped to keep the resolution from being completely turned down so that nothing was completely off the table.

“As we’ve gone through this process I believe there is room for compromise on both sides of the issue, and opportunities to solve some of these problems. What we’re being asked to do tonight is consider a resolution of the execution of the interlocal agreement, and that is all we are doing. If we vote that down tonight then this issue is done, there will be no trail improvement,” said councilman Blair Camp.

The most prominent concerns came from people whose properties border the already existing dirt trail, and regarded personal privacy, noise and crowd management and safety. Because many people use the trail already to walk their dogs, one concern is that dogs are often left off their leashes and dog feces aren’t cleaned up.

Laurie Hagland, who lives east of the canal, said her family originally was excited for basic care taken with the trail to keep it clean and secluded, but, she said, “The boards displayed at the open house, though, showed just the opposite with the trail running right against our property and this causes great concerns relating to privacy, security, liability and the enjoyment of our own yard.”

When Hill proposed development of the trail, he showed that there were more people showing support versus opposition, however, the city did find that more support came from those living in outlying areas away from the trail, Hagland said. She proposed that votes be more weighted by those who live next to the canal.

Those favoring the trail expressed appreciation for a place to walk with their dogs, kids or even horses. They believe more direct involvement from the city itself would lead to a safer, cleaner trail for anybody to enjoy.

“I walk the trail as it is now and I have, twice a day, for the past 12 years…It’s a great place to exercise and walk my dogs, the trail connects all of the neighborhoods together, and when neighbors get to know one another, they look out for one another, and that provides a spirit of community you just can’t get for a price,” said Matthew Hepworth, a resident who lives near the trail.

When gates went up to block part of the trail in May 2014, Hepworth and others who walk the trail and attended the meeting said they saw more vandalism and signs of partying once the gates were installed.

Richard Gross, a resident who has lived near the trail for years, agreed with the point Hepworth made to the negative side effects that can take place when public areas are blocked.

“I support a newer version of that walkway,” Gross said.

“We have a good example: Jordan Parkway. We can look at families young and old walking that parkway anytime … There are many houses up and down there and we don’t hear about crime and people breaking in along that parkway. It’s a nice, well-kept place, when you keep places nice, you keep in the nice people.”

Council members Blair Camp, Dave Nicponski and Diane Turner voted in favor of the interlocal agreement, while Brett Hales and Jim Brass voted against.

The resolution passed with majority vote, and developments will be further discussed in the future.

Along with the Canal Trail resolution, the city council also passed an ordinance to amend zoning for 64, 72, 82, 90, 96, 106 and 116 West Woodrow Street from single-family, low-density residential to general office, in the General Plan and Zoning Map, even with several objections from residents.

“We’ve looked at things to try and make them better,” said Phil Winston with Northstar Builders, who was the applicant for the amendment, and owner of the property as of May 1. They plan on building medical buildings, Winston said, and have looked at building in a way that directs traffic away from the neighborhood.

Four area residents spoke to the change before the vote on the amendment, with most concerned that the rezoning may affect the private residential feel.

“…It’s as idyllic as could be,” said Camilla Bowman about the area presently. “What we would not enjoy is having an end to that neighborhood and having general offices that would change that traffic, there’s plenty of traffic…but having our backyard abut general offices, if we had known that buying the house we wouldn’t have purchased the house.”

Steve Ellefsen, who is a Murray City firefighter and engineer, was also recognized as Employee of the Month for Murray City, and Jonathon Dale Jastram, a firefighter with the Murray Fire Department, was recognized for completing the National Fire Academy’s “Managing Officer Program.”

The council and mayor’s office also officially recognized April 2017 as Fair Housing Month in Murray.