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Mountain Trails Asks County Council To Improve Rail Trail


Summit County’s hearing Wednesday night on the 2019 budget drew no public comment, except for two representatives of the Mountain Trails Foundation who were invited to speak.

The county has proposed using some Transient Room Tax money for a study on enhancing the Rail Trail. But Trails Foundation director Charlie Sturgis said he thinks the funding could better go for improvements to the trail.

The Rail Trail, stretching from Park City to Echo, is officially a park owned by the state.

The county has proposed using $100,000 of TRT money for a study. But Sturgis said it would be cheaper for the county and North Summit citizens to organize a plan for the trail, which he said is super-under-utilized on the eastern end.

“The county staff needs to have a liaison with the state parks and the contractors that are involved. There should be a citizens committee for friends of the Rail Trail down in the Coalville area. Park City area gets super heavily utilized and the Coalville/Wanship area is certainly less utilized. I talked to Tom a little bit and Kim about how this is an incredible community amenity down there but it’s not being utilized for healthy lifestyle and just really good sensible programing for the community.”

He noted that the Mountain Trails Foundation had formerly been the manager for the trail.

“Our experience with the state parks was at times pretty positive but there was a significant change in staff and at that point it became a lot less positive. This is not sour grapes, we lost the contract after 13 years. The state parks is not real interested in the Rail Trail. I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus. They’re certainly not interested in an area that they see as underutilized already. I think it really comes down to the community citizen group and liaison representing the county to work with the state parks.”

Sturgis and trails manager Rick Fournier were asked what projects could be done on the trail.

“The ability to have little pump parks, mountain biking adjacent to the Rail Trail. Which is a little bit down Pat Putts design which I haven’t seen but we’ve talked about. I think the idea of little benches along the road with exercise stations.”

“The obvious would be paving additional sections of the trail, if not all of it eventually. There are bridges that need some attention. You’ve got the original underlying structures on the railroad bridges that are going to need some replacement.”

Charlie Sturgis and Rick Fournier from the Mountain Trails Foundation.

The second hearing on the budget, with a decision from the council, is set for next week, December 12th at the Coalville Courthouse.

Known for getting all the facts right, as well as his distinctive sign-off, Rick covered Summit County meetings and issues for 35 years on KPCW. He now heads the Friday Film Review team.
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