MD’s 2020-07-28 Moab City Council Preview

[Editor’s note: Both Mike Duncan and Rani Derasary have graciously agreed to let MADAR reuse their regular email updates to constituents. Despite the overlap, we are running both versions of the MCC previews. Readers can choose to read both, either or neither of the previews.]

This meeting will be conducted using a video conferencing tool named Zoom. Staff, Mayor and Council members talk to and see an image each other sitting at a computer at remote sites. You can see and hear (but not talk to) them using the City’s YouTube channel:

To have your comments considered for the Citizens to Be Heard portion of the electronic meeting, please fill out the form found here:

You must submit your comments by 7:00 pm on 28 July 2020. Please limit your comments to 400 words. 

Regular City Council Meeting at 7 PM

I have only discussed interesting items in this report; please see the complete agenda at for a complete list.

Elevator coming to Center St. Gym

The city has completed design work on a new two-story elevator at the Center St. Gym, necessary to meet ADA standards. Engineering staff have selected a contractor to do the work, the low bidder in this case. Unfortunately, both bids were above the originally estimated amount, so a few parts of the design have been deleted to meet budget.

R2 to R4 Rezone west of City’s Walnut Lane Affordable Housing Development

A year or two ago the city purchased a more-or-less square and somewhat dilapidated trailer park on the north side of Walnut Lane and has since been in the process of redeveloping it into an affordable housing complex without displacing those residents whenever possible. As part of that process, we rezoned a portion of it from R2 to R4 to make it legally conforming and consistent with the remainder of the parcel that already was R4.

To the west of this property lies another smaller trailer park with the same split, legally non-conforming R2/R4 issue. That owner has requested the same sort of rezone. Further to the west is vacant Moab Valley Health Care property. When the city first considered buying Walnut Lane, I remember visiting the site and thinking this smaller west-side parcel would make a nice future expansion of the Walnut Lane redevelopment.

Dining in the Street, Temporarily due to Covid-19

You may have seen it in the news – anxious not to see their restaurants go broke, cities are allowing them to serve diners in front of their storefront on the city sidewalk, in their parking lot and even in the city street. Moab is considering temporarily, by way of an administrative “emergency” order, permitting such here. Time is of the essence – obviously, so we can’t require weeks of paperwork. Nora Shepard, city planner, will present some ideas, many stolen from other towns doing the same thing, and ask Council for direction. I’m a fan of trusting neighboring businesses to talk to each other and work out something agreeable with minimal city intervention. But you know Murphy – whatever can go wrong will. What days of week? Hours? What part of town? Open sidewalk widths? Open street travel lane width? Must everything be removed every night? Should be an interesting conversation.

Increasing transparency and public review for a change in use of City property

The Bike Skills Park debacle (a completely unanticipated backlash to what was thought to be a benign amenity, discussed below) has birthed a desire to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again. The goal is to make sure that all public/resident points of view are heard before committing to controversial projects. The tricky part is identifying what will be controversial. Since this entails new rules and process delay (not a good thing in general), we wish to not invoke it when not necessary. Laurie Simonson, our staff attorney, has drafted an introductory set of questions for Council: Is “Change in use” defined as a permanent change or does it include temporary changes? What is the definition of “change in use?” Will the procedures apply to all real property where the City is the owner or just public parks and/or public spaces? Desire for a “public meeting” or a “public hearing?” Who will be the decision-making authority and under what circumstances? What are the criteria for approval of “change in use?” Should be an interesting discussion – participate early and often! There is no substitute for an engaged electorate.

Interesting topics not on agenda:

Bike Skills Park

We continue to receive letters objecting to placement of the Bike Skills Park at its proposed location on the Mill Creek Parkway. While I share that sentiment, (the rest of) Council shows no movement towards moving it somewhere else. Doing so requires breaking (or amending) agreements:

– On 2/14/2019, the Mayor wrote the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, Outdoor Recreation Dept., declaring city support for the BSP (at its Mill Creek Parkway location).

– On 2/26/2019, the city manager at that time, David Everitt, signed the grant application written by the Active Transportation group in the Grand County Economic Development office, acknowledging city responsibility of BSP.

– At a City Council meeting 3/26/2019, City Council approves an Interlocal Agreement between the city and county to provide city funding for Active Transportation, an agreement drafted in December 2018. While the language of the ILA is not specific to the BSP, my understanding is that much of that funding went towards it.

– In June 2019, city manager Joel Linares commits additional funds to Active Transportation for a bathroom at the BSP site.

Thus, backing out of this site is, obviously, a mess. Could it be done? Certainly, but at a financial and reputational cost to the city.

Hope this helps, 

(Councilmember) Mike Duncan