Herriman city council candidate answers: Blackridge Reservoir
I would like to sincerely thank the four candidates for taking the time to address my questions. I have included links to their respective websites and/or Facebook pages below.
My question to the Herriman city council candidates for district #4 about Blackridge Reservoir was the following:
Blackridge Reservoir has been a hot topic this year and has been covered in the news media as a popular destination for people, not just in Herriman, but from all over. Many Herriman residents that live near the reservoir are upset because the reservoir lacks the necessary parking for the number of people using the reservoir and because the reservoir sits inside a residential neighborhood, there is no easy way to expand parking.
Several ideas have been suggested to address the problems ranging from restricting use of the reservoir to Herriman (and maybe Riverton) residents only, charging an entry fee, reducing congestion by marking the residential streets near the reservoir as parking only for residents, or, my own silly idea: Set up a shuttle bus running from Butterfield Park to the reservoir every half hour.
If elected to city council, what measures will you push for addressing the problems surrounding Blackridge Reservoir?
Herriman has plans to work with a developer to build another, larger reservoir off Juniper Crest Road which will eventually be accessible from Mountain View Corridor but it won't be finished for at least another three to five years.
If elected, would you push to move development of this reservoir up so that it is available for use sooner?
First I would push to help the city and the council understand there is a major problem here. This is obstacle number one. As I have sat in on meetings, I am astounded to hear time and time again that this is merely a small inconvenience that will pass in a few weeks. Honestly, at present the council doesn't seem to understand the gravity of the issue at hand. I live close by and have seen and experienced first hand what is going on. I see the issue first as a safety concern, and second as a quality of experience issue. This is a wonderful amenity in our community however, it was never anticipated to have this kind of draw. The streets were never designed to accommodate parking on both sides of the street and emergency vehicles. This creates not only a nuisance for residents but a true safety concern for children crossing roads, residents accessing their property, and safety for those accessing the reservoir. With the last drowning, I would hate to think what might have happened if police were not on site, as emergency crews couldn't get past the traffic when the drowning occurred. I would work to have the council visit the reservoir a few times during and after peak hours to see first hand what is occurring. Next, I would propose large boulders be placed near the entrance and exit to prevent people from driving around the gates after hours. This would be followed by installing tire rippers placed at the entrance and exit to prevent people from going the wrong direction as well as entering through the exit. This would be followed by doing a capacity calculation for the reservoir. Just like any other public space, there is a capacity that supports safety, and enjoyment. With this calculation in hand, I would propose capping it below this calculation knowing some people would inevitably sneak in. This allows us to keep it at a safe level. I believe we should have attendants at the gates and charge a nominal fee per carload. This fee would offset the cost of the attendants. I would support the city running a link with a live webcam so visitors can see how busy it is and judge if they want to come. I would remove the curb and gutter on the south side of the parking lot and expand this to the fence to allow two rows of 45 degree parking. This would be followed by changing parking on the streets to indicate no reservoir parking allowed and enforcing it. Lastly, I think the community has to be part of the solution. We need resident input. The solution is not one change but a series of changes to create the desired outcome. This too applies to resident access vs. non resident access. I think this would be a community choice. As far as providing a shuttle service, unfortunately I don't know that this would be economically feasible or useful given the amount of gear people are usually hauling with them.
As far as accelerating a second reservoir, this would be based off of revenue coming into the city. As it stands the reservoir currently is a recreational facility costing residents money, but not generating revenue as it is free. At current over capacity levels it will continue to cost even more to maintain it. My take would be it could be a great asset to the community if planned correctly and was a fiscally sound investment that produced positive revenue to support it.
Blackridge Reservoir is a wonderful addition to our community, but we do have a problem with the amount of traffic and safety concerns that this brings. For immediate relief, I think that homes within a half mile or mile of the reservoir should have a residents-only street parking and car window tags could be given to each house for guest use. Cost for this would be minimal and it would reduce the amount of traffic because when the reservoir parking is full, people will venture to another location. People coming from other cities may be hesitant to travel this far if they knew they could be turned away due to parking. I would love to see something like this implemented immediately - August 1st. Homes along the restricted parking section could be given a park strip sign indicating Resident Only parking, and/or a sign at the beginning of each Resident Only parking section could be placed in the park strip similar to a Cross Walk size sign. This could be just seasonal. There will be a meeting next Tuesday at 6:30 in the City Council room to address this and hear the solutions from the community. Whatever decision is made, we need to keep in mind that this is a seasonal problem (June-August) and that the cost and the safety of residents should both be considered.
One of the aspects that I feel Herriman is known for and should be known for in the future is our wonderful outdoor amenities. In my mind, Blackridge Reservoir is one of those, with some significant issues that need to be solved. Most of the problems stem from the fact that while the reservoir itself was planned for, the added amenities and turning it into a park, were an afterthought. It is never ideal to have the ingress/egress of a highly popular amenity be nestled within a neighborhood. It was also impossible to know how popular the lake would become. I mention that for the simple fact that I want to make sure the city uses Blackridge Reservoir as a reminder to always be thinking ahead, bringing residents into discussions well in advance of action (particularly those in the affected area) and to have a 30,000 foot view that contemplates consequences in an area while weighing it with the needs of the city, as a whole.
I'll start with the positives first. Every city hopes to have attractions that will bring in traffic from surrounding cities because it will inevitably aid in sales tax revenue. I believe Blackridge Reservoir can continue to be a beneficial outside draw for our city, be a highlight of our park system enjoyed by residents and become less of a concern for those in the "impact zone".
I'm not in favor of closing the reservoir or making it a resident-only amenity. I think those are knee-jerk reactions out of frustration. Admittedly, residents have every right to be frustrated as I do feel their property rights have been infringed upon, but I don't feel the city ever benefits from a "Not in My Backyard" mentality. That being said, I also realistically know there is no easy solution to this problem. The complexity of this problem is going to require a comprehensive solution.
I would like to see a solution based on the principles of education, engineering and enforcement, with all three key to making significant progress. We've already seen great progress with added enforcement, but this alone will not solve the problem. Not for the least of which being that the UPD cannot continue to absorb added enforcement costs without an increase in cost to the city.
Continue with enhanced enforcement, particularly in the areas of parking and alcohol/tobacco violations. I would continue the heavy-handed approach to establish very clearly that Blackridge has rules that will be enforced and it is not an "anything goes" place to party. Fines that are given will help discourage some of these activities.
I support installing a fence and charging a modest fee (with a reduced rate for residents of Herriman and Riverton). There is the underlying principle that we all respect something more and increase its perceived value when we have to pay for it. Charging establishes an "entertainment value" for the lake, it will also inevitably limit the frequency of users due to a cost versus no cost and, most importantly, it generates revenue to maintain the facility. There is certainly a cost to the fence and I know there is a concern that it increases the liability to the city, but I think it's worth seriously reviewing.
I also support a parking permit program that restricts, to some degree, the spillover parking. We've done restricted parking on the roads around Alta High School in Sandy and have found it successful in controlling students parking in the residential neighborhood, blocking driveways, etc. Once the parking lot is full, I'd support other thoughts on parking, such as you've described or down on Juniper Crest. I do believe the parking solution is one we're going to have to try a variety of solutions until we find the one that fits. In addition, if we begin to charge, even modestly, we may find the parking solution fixes itself.
Increased signage and outreach about the behaviors that are and are not acceptable at the Reservoir, along with the enforcement to show "we mean business".
For me, the best solution will be the construction of the new reservoir. I would absolutely support moving that amenity forward, but designing it in such a way that we learn from our mistakes at Blackridge Reservoir. I'll discuss this more later, I'm sure, but I believe in a city council member having the ability and the mentality to establish working relationships with property owners and developers. The city's relationship with Sorenson is a good example of this and one of the reasons we have two of the largest amenities in our city: The J.L. Sorenson Recreation Center and the Rosecrest Pavilion. I have a good relationship with Sorenson and I would work with them to see what we could do to move up the construction on this larger reservoir to help alleviate problems we're having with Blackridge.
For a detailed view, my website has an entire article on my feelings on Blackridge. I will say that the UPD enforcement for the last month or so has made a very big difference. I support the continued use of UPD officers at the reservoir, although we may need to scale back how often they are there based on need.
Before we start making large changes like closing the park, I think we can start with some small changes, and move from there.
I like Valarie Kingsbury's idea to limit parking on the streets around the reservoir. I agree with her it would be relatively inexpensive to provide residents with passes, but enforcement is a cost that is generally more expensive than people expect.
David Watts seems to have been the most active on this issue and has made a clear impression on residents around the reservoir as being actively involved in this issue. He has pointed out UPD has already established a presence at the reservoir and that has made a positive difference there.
While Mr. Watts has identified many different areas of concern related to Blackridge Reservoir, his proposed solutions seem to center around leveraging UPD to enforce parking, speeding, and drinking regulations.
I'm not sure about Kurt Hurdman's proposal to charge a use fee at Blackridge Reservoir. As I understand it, operation of the reservoir is already funded by a fund that is derived from park fees collected from residents. This is one reason many residents have called for restricting use of Blackridge to Herriman (and Riverton) residents. In my view, a study would need to be done to determine if the reservoir's operational cost exceeds that which is available in the park fund before considering instating a use fee. Alternatively, the city could collect more for a park fee. Neither one of these seem like attractive options.
Nicole Martin's response conveys at least as good a grasp of the problem as Mr. Watts', but is more articulate and includes more specific proposals. Ms. Martin brings up the use fee similar to Mr. Hurdman and does a good job of explaining its possible justification.
On the issue of Blackridge Reservoir, for me it's a toss up between Nicole Martin and David Watts.