Proposed changes to Willow Creek Park pose safety issues in neighborhood
This is an edited version of an open letter to the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission
The Snyderville Basin Recreation District is currently requesting a Conditional Use Permit to allow construction of a dog park and an additional 45 parking stalls at the Willow Creek Park. We, the Board of the Willow Creek Estates Homeowners Association, would like to share with you our concerns regarding approval of certain aspects of this Conditional Use Permit.
We count ourselves lucky to be Willow Creek Estates homeowners with such wonderful access to the great parks, trails and recreational activities in our area. But with each passing summer, we grow more concerned about the safety of our children and neighbors as they cross the street (Split Rail Lane) to access a park that has seen a significant year-over-year increase in events and traffic.
According to The Park Record article by Caroline Kingsley, by approving the Conditional Use Permit, the Planning Commission approved "35 new parking stalls within the existing Willow Creek parking lot" and an additional 10 parking stalls along Old Ranch Road (as proposed by Basin Recreation and yet to be approved).
A few dozen parking stalls is not the answer to a neighborhood that is already overstressed with 100-plus cars scattered along the park trail onto Split Rail Lane and into our adjacent neighborhood streets due to the large-scale events scheduled any given summer or fall weekend. The Willow Creek Estates HOA met with staff from Basin Recreation this last summer to voice concerns over the proposed dog park and current safety issues surrounding the park. The only change made by Basin Recreation to the plan presented to the Planning Commission is the addition of the parking along Old Ranch Road.
Unfortunately, at the public input session on December 18th, the idea of any parking along Old Ranch Road was opposed by numerous commission members. The idea for parking on Old Ranch Road was not necessarily well thought out, as reflected on the submitted plans by Basin Recreation, but the idea of an entrance to the park there should be.
Why, if Willow Creek Park is truly a commuter park, is the only access to the park through the Willow Creek Estates neighborhood? Along with a review of current policies with regard to scheduling sporting and other large events at the park, serious consideration should be made with regard to the parking lots and pedestrian safety when accessing the park from the road AND the trail system from all directions. With its current configuration alone, crossing Split Rail Lane safely on high-use days is simply not possible. Additional parking stalls in the current location will only increase congestion in the area and the likelihood of a pedestrian accident.
Lastly, contrary to what was written in The Park Record after the December Planning Commission public hearing, an online survey conducted by the Willow Creek HOA showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents do not support the plan for the dog park. This was reflected at the public hearing where no one publicly voiced support for the park and additional parking.
The recommendation and support (by Planning Commission members) regarding the dog park was quite palpable at the public hearing. This plan seems to be moving forward unopposed. The idea of additional parking and its impact on traffic and safety, however, was never really vetted.
We feel a traffic study is paramount and should be required of Basin Recreation prior to approving any additional parking. Furthermore, the idea of parking and possibly even a second entrance along Old Ranch Road could be considered and weighed by the study. Safety and quality of life are being negatively impacted by the current parking situation; adding more parking is only going to worsen this.
As our designated planning officials, you now have a chance to make a positive difference in the safety of all park patrons. Please don’t wait for someone to get hurt to make the changes that need to happen now.