When I walked to school I had to cut through the brambles of Pack Creek and ford the water. Lacking a bridge on my path, I often took my shoes off and waded the stream, until someone put some logs and an old board over it.
Then and now those creeks provide a blessed oasis in our valley. The city of Moab has done a great job over the past dozen years to develop the Mill Creek Parkway, and it’s a real asset to the town, enjoyed by tourists and residents.
But I’m concerned about loitering issues on the parkway, particularly in remote reaches that aren’t very visible. I frequently jog down most areas of the trail system, from near Rotary Park to behind the school bus sheds and the sandy trail sections west of Main Street. I have been uncomfortable at times on some of those sections because of small groups and individuals who hang out there. I’ve heard similar comments from others, and I am hopeful that more can be done to increase safety and sanitation there.
Part of the parkway system is a major connector to Mountain View subdivision and adjacent apartments and new homes. One can walk from Kane Creek Boulevard to Main Street more quickly than by car. But those sections, in my mind, are where I’ve at times felt a little uncomfortable and have witnessed individuals with small fires and open containers of alcohol. That type of activity in a publicly funded transportation/recreation area is not appropriate, especially if witnessed by grade-school children who may not be safe there.
Another big concern is wildfire, which has and can occur any time of year in the dry tinder of the creekside cottonwoods and underbrush. Some people may disagree that Moab has homeless people who live in pockets along the parkway, but it’s certainly true that people gather there, and that some people have been found dead there. A recent project funded by the state to thin and eradicate invasive trees and bushes has left a lot of logs along the trail, which are now used like forts as gathering places. My question is this: Would this activity be condoned in Swanny City Park? If not, it shouldn’t be condoned on the parkway.
City police are aware of these issues and I am hopeful that there can be increased random foot and bike patrols along the parkway.
I’m supportive of the multiple ways the trail is being used. People walk their dogs on it; they sit on benches and listen to the gurgling of the creek; they ride their bikes and jog through the leafy arbors. The development of technical bike jumps at Anonymous Park is fitting for Moab’s adventure style, as is the slack-lining activity that is developing nearby on the other side of 5th West.
I’ve admired cities like Boise and San Antonio that utilize and enjoy the waterways through their towns. The Mill Creek Parkway is a lovely slice of nature that is a complement and compliment to Moab. Let’s put our ideas together as a community to keep the parkway safe and enjoyable for everyone.