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Big turnout for Coalville rail-trail open house

Bailey Edelstein Summit County
Rail Trail Corridor Future Open House

A community open house at the Ledges Event Center in Coalville Monday night attracted dozens of people who wanted to talk about the Union Pacific Rail Trail Corridor Master Plan project.

Master’s students from the University of Utah City and Metropolitan Planning Department and Summit County planners hosted the event. Community members talked about what they envision for the future of the rail trail in Summit County from Quinn's Junction to Echo Reservoir.

University of Utah master’s student Sophie Frankenburg said the focus is to identify how people access and use the trail, and how they want to see it evolve in the future. She said people expressed diverse interests for future trail use and access.

"I've noticed primarily that this is a regional trail. It's not a community-specific trail. So, when looking at it from that scope, distinctly different communities exist along this corridor. And so, trying to figure out how the county can best represent each community is probably the biggest challenge with this master plan, but also the greatest opportunity because it allows for so much creativity, partnerships, and hopefully a very connected and purposeful vision."

Bailey Edelstein Summit County

Most people in Monday's forum did not want to see amenities other than benches and restrooms along the 30-mile corridor, saying they preferred the quiet, natural environment. Coalville Mayor-elect Mark Marsh said trails provide health benefits, build a sense of community, and enhance property values.

Bailey Edelstein Summit County

“I think the amenities are there. They're already in place. But I think people in the towns and communities just need to spruce it up a little bit and make it a little bit and make it a little bit more available and a little more inviting. I think that the more open, the more clear the trail is, gives you more of the rural feeling."

Master's student Marly Kapacinskas said amenities in the towns along the rail trail could add vibrancy to already established businesses.
"So, some of these amenities that we listed like restaurants and breweries or coffee shops and food trucks, like our thinking was to actually have them be established in Coalville or in Wanship.  And then potentially direct people to those locations."

Gay Stoner lives in Hoytsville and uses the rail trail all year long. Stickers causing flats and injuries to dogs' paws are a shared frustration with the current rail trail maintenance.

"This is the only trail in eastern Summit County, where Park City has a lot of trail. So, we would like to see more energy put up here with packing it in the winter and grading it more--a little more care. And I really strongly object to the use of herbicides on the trail because it is wetlands."

The students and Summit County Planner Maddy McDonough created the survey. They've had more than 300 responses so far. McDonough said they want as much input as they can get before the survey closes on December 19.

"After the deadline, it will probably take us about two weeks to get a, basis for our next step, which will be taking that information to focus groups, which people have been signing up for and still are able to sign up for if they're interested in joining a focus group, where we're going to start to get more specific about what the plan should focus on and how we should sort of start reaching these goals."

The state and the county don't have any active negotiations or agreements about controlling the Union Pacific Rail Trail from Quinn's Junction to Echo Reservoir. Recently, officials with the county and state parks have discussed ownership and responsibility, but jurisdiction currently falls to State Parks. The County will continue its work on the Rail Trail master plan as discussions proceed with the state.

Find links to the survey click here. If interested in joining the focus group, clickhere.

Corrected: December 8, 2021 at 10:01 AM MST
Clarification update on Summit County and State Parks discussion on Rail Trail jurisdiction and management.
KPCW reporter Carolyn Murray covers Summit and Wasatch County School Districts. She also reports on wildlife and environmental stories, along with breaking news. Carolyn has been in town since the mid ‘80s and raised two daughters in Park City.