At its regular August 10 meeting, Moab City Council heard updates on employee housing projects and the Canyonlands Regional Airport; and discussed and voted on approving a project with the Utah Department of Transportation to design and build a new roundabout in the city. The council also discussed and tabled a motion to adopt a new property tax. [See our coverage on page 1 of this edition. -ed.]
There is a serious shortage of affordable housing in Moab as current projects, such as Walnut Lane, face construction issues. Potential employees of Moab businesses, including the police department, are struggling to find housing.
On August 10, the board continued discussions on a short-term plan to increase employee housing. Nora Shepard, the Planning Director for the City of Moab, put together a list of ideas with timelines, feasibility and priority rankings.
Top priority strategies included adding accessory housing units, allowing RVs to park off-street in residential neighborhoods, simplifying act restrictions, and using American Rescue Plan funds. Act for the Walnut Lane project to offset material costs and labor shortages. Other ideas included allowing small host villages, allowing dormitories or dormitories, or trying to get local businesses to partner with the Walnut Lane project in order to fund the project.
Board member Mike Duncan asked about the longevity of RV parking – the board should consider licensing long-term RVs, he said. “You could have an RV parked there for a couple of years,” he said, adding RVs and camping was how “Moab started”. But Shepard spoke about the fact that residents might not support a permanent allowance.
The full list of strategies has been approved by the board and will be referred to the Planning Commission for further discussion.
Airport feasibility report
Andy Solsvig, Airport Manager of Canyonlands Regional Airport, presented an airport economic feasibility study prepared by UDOT. The study found that the airport created both directly and indirectly 488 jobs, $ 45.9 million in annual economic activity and $ 2.1 million in annual revenue from sales and income taxes.
During the pandemic, the airport received three federal stimulus grants of $ 1 million each, which “kept us afloat,” Solsvig said. He expects the airport to be able to count on stimulus money over the next few years.
Swanny City Park Roundabout
City Engineer Chuck Williams presented the design for a roundabout at the intersection of 400 North and 100 West, adjacent to Swanny City Park.
The city received a grant from UDOT for the project, but is expected to provide a share of the costs of $ 78,329.
The city has been considering a roundabout in this area for some time, Williams said. The roads at the intersection are staggered and a roundabout would help slow traffic and improve pedestrian safety, Williams said. The design would move crosswalks away from the flow of traffic and allow “pedestrian refuge islands,” where pedestrians could stop walking halfway through the crosswalk to check vehicles.
“It’s for pedestrian safety, bicycle safety, and it’s a traffic calming device,” Williams said.
Mayor Emily Niehaus commented that a large hollow in the roadway on 100 West contributed to flooding in the public park. She speculated that the “hollow of despair” could also be corrected during the construction of the roundabout.
Council member Rani Derasary noted that the city has already reworked this intersection and would like to review crash data before investing more money in the area.
“Is this where we should put $ 80,000?” Derasary asked.
Board member Karen Guzman-Newton brought forward a motion to approve the design and construction of the project in the amount of $ 78,329. The motion was carried, 4-1, with Derasary voting on dissent.
Moab City Council meets on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. Meetings are streamed online on the City of Moab Youtube channel. Times, agendas and opportunities for public comment can be found at www.moabcity.org