The Blanding City Council discussed the various alternatives for Recapture Canyon at the October 11 council meeting.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) seeks public input on several alternatives for the canyon, which has been closed to motorized traffic since 2007.
The Council accepted Alternative “B”, that allows access to the canyon for motorized vehicles and slightly alters some trails to avoid impact to cultural sites. The alternative supports new trailheads that will include parking and educational material on archaeological site etiquette.
Councilman Joe B. Lyman requested the council accept Alternative B with the addition of recognizing the pipeline road. Lyman said that mention of the road had been omitted from all 312 pages of the environmental assessment. The motion passed.
Lyman said Alternative B would help create a sustainable and manageable trail system, provide stops, and protect resources.
“The goal is to provide for outdoor recreation and human use and B is the alternative that does those things,” said Lyman.
Lyman expressed frustration that the BLM is calling Alternative A the county proposal. “Calling A the county alternative is not true,” said Lyman. “This is designed (by the BLM) to confuse people and split local support.”
A full copy of the motion is available on the San Juan Record website at www.sjrnews.com . City officials said they would like to encourage local residents to voice their opinion to the BLM on the Recapture Canyon proposals.
The City Council passed a proposed Special Events Policy, which will result in several changes to use of city parks and city land, including the requirement of liability insurance paid by the renter.
While you will not need a million dollars to rent a city facility, you will need insurance to cover up to a million dollars in damage and liability.
City Manager Jeremy Redd said this stipulation is added to protect the city and its taxpayers from liability and financial loss due to accidents or negligence. It could change almost everything about how city residents use the parks.
Here is what you can expect. A special event permit, including the insurance, is required of any event where all of the following items apply: 1) a private function such as a fundraiser, party, race, over-sized group picnic, etc. that 2) intends to use City property such as roads, sidewalks, parks, etc. 3) in a way that may interfere with the public’s typical use of this property.
City Manager Redd said the parameters are intentionally vague to help promote use of the city parks for things such as family reunions, birthday parties, ward parties, and yard sales that would all fall under typical use of park property.
Decisions on what is typical use or special event will be decided on a case-by-case basis. For events that do not fall under typical use, such as the San Juan Freedom Fest or The Renaissance Fair, renters may need to plan on additional fees beyond the usual facility rental fee, from $25 per hour for street service to hundreds of dollars for event insurance.
Redd said the city will walk renters through the process to apply for a special event permit and obtain the required insurance. The city suggests using TULIP (Tenant Users Liability Insurance Policy) for easy access to insurance polices.
For example, an event of 50 people with no vendors can plan to pay up to $100 for insurance. An event of 300 people with 10 vendor booths could pay closer to $600. The cost for a group of 500 with 20 vendor booths could exceed more than $1,000.
The city expressed the desire to encourage entrepreneurship while also protecting its assets and taxpayers. Redd suggested that smaller events could find a sponsor to help with additional costs or approach the city to host the event. A city event would be covered under city insurance.
Typical use will be determined on a per case basis, as decided by city officials. The policy is vague about what is and is not a special event. Mayor Calvin Balch requested that the policy more precisely define permitters. However, the policy was passed with minimal changes.
To learn more about the changes that will be shortly taking place in the city and city parks, first, come to the city council meetings. You can also learn more on the city website.
In other matters at the October 11 council meeting, it was announced there will be no in-person voting in Blanding for the November 8 general election. The closest polls will be at the San Juan County Clerks office in Monticello, or at Montezuma Creek, Oljato or Navajo Mountain.
Officials ask residents to look for ballots in the mail. Voting is important, even if you don’t love anyone on any ballot, so get your ballots mailed back in.
The landscaping contract for city parks has expired and the city will be accepting new proposals. They are happy with the current provider but would like to open for other proposals. They ask that each proposal include individual monthly amounts for each property. The contract is a three-year contract.
The City Council discussed the Halloween safety program at Blanding Elementary School. Chief of Police Jason Torgerson is working with the San Juan High School Drama Sterling Scholar candidate to put on a program for the elementary school kids about Halloween safety.
Chief Torgerson encourages residents to lock their vehicles. Items are being taken out of cars, but these are crimes of opportunity. Torgerson said no damage has been done to vehicles; the thieves are just checking doors until they find one that is unlocked.
Chief Torgerson stated that when they find $200 once, they are going to do it again. Lock your doors. Just do it.
City Manager Jeremy Redd asked the council to start thinking of projects to incorporate into the project plan for next year. Mayor Calvin Balch suggested walking and biking trails north of town for the community to create a safe place for people to run and get them off the roads.
If you have the best idea ever, go find a city council member and get them on your side. What do you want to see in the community in the years to come? What would be amazing? What would make Blanding the best ever?