New trailhead approved for Silver Summit Parkway
May 1, 2015
Sharon Kellner typically walks her dogs in Round Valley twice a day and considers herself an "incredibly frequent" user of the area.
The Silver Summit resident often sees elk herds during her walks and said she has grown quite an affinity for the aesthetic value they add.
However, Kellner said a new trailhead will threaten that.
Kellner recently attended a hearing during a Snyderville Basin Planning Commission meeting to testify against City Hall’s proposal to build a new trailhead off Silver Summit Parkway, saying the new trailhead would encroach on the elk herds. The trailhead, to be located east of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church on Silver Summit Parkway, is slated to accommodate 10 parking spaces, two restrooms and an information kiosk.
"As active and healthy as people are in this area, they are incredibly lazy," Kellner said during the hearing. "There is convenient parking, restrooms and trailheads within two-tenths of a mile of where you are proposing to build this. I question if that is unprecedented in the city or in the county to have parking lot trailheads with restrooms so close to each other. Is that the direction we are heading when we buy up open space?"
Despite the misgivings of Kellner, the Planning Commission unanimously voted to forward a positive recommendation to the Summit County community development director, Pat Putt. The property that houses the future site of the trailhead is in the county, but the property owner is City Hall.
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Planning Commissioner Chuck Klingenstein said a low-impact permit can be approved by the community development director. But sometimes when the director senses that an application needs more opportunity for public input, he will send it to the commission for a recommendation, Klingenstein said.
"It sounds like circular reasoning, I know," he said. "But some things are straightforward and some aren’t. This one, because it is so close to a neighborhood, my assumption is he wanted the neighbors to have more of an opportunity to present input to the commission."
Putt approved the permit Wednesday with conditions: City Hall re-evaluate the site and its impacts annually; no lighting is approved as part of the permit; and any expansion will require an amendment to the approved permit.
The trailhead will be accessible from Silver Summit Parkway via a paved driveway, according to a County Courthouse staff report prepared in anticipation of the meeting. Operation and maintenance of the site will be performed by the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District, the report states.
The purpose of the trailhead is to provide public access for the trails that are planned for that area and to connect them to the rest of the trails in the Round Valley network, according to Heinrich Deters, who is City Hall’s trail coordinator.
"We’re excited to be able to provide some more recreational opportunities," Deters said.
He said although the Highland Drive and Trailside trailheads are within less than a half mile of the new trailhead, it’s "not just about trail access." It’s about providing parking, information, dog-waste bags and restrooms, he said.
"All of these factors were thought out diligently for about a year and a half to get to this process," Deters said. "We try to put trailheads in places and in manners that will have the least impact.
"We want them to access it where we want them to access it," he said. "There is a conscientious plan that goes into this."
Summit County planner Amir Caus said another benefit of the project is the reclamation of approximately six acres of land.
"There is about a six-acre site of disturbed land that will be reclaimed and re-vegetated," Caus said. "It’s another benefit that wouldn’t have happened without the trailhead being there."
Trailside resident Chris Hague attended the hearing to voice his support for the trailhead and to commend the work of city and county officials.
"I want to congratulate a number of people," Hague said. "This has been a year in the making and started out as a much grander proposal than it is today. Heinrich has shown a willingness to accommodate and accept constructive input and we owe him a lot, I think, for the end result."
Now that the permit is approved, officials can begin drafting construction documents and considering bids on the project, with the hopes of breaking ground sometime this summer.
But none of the benefits associated with the new trailhead quelled Anni Robertson’s concerns.
Robertson, like Kellner, frequently watches the elk herds as they pass within view of her bedroom window. The Silver Summit resident said she is concerned about the effect the trailhead will have on the herds during the winter and their migration.
"Those are stressful times and these animals are very close to my heart," Robertson said. "I’m just really opposed to this."
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