|The signs on the restrooms in Spring Canyon show the ravages of vandals activities. The restroom itself also has a few holes in it from firearms. The county is exploring new ways to protect property like this that is out of sight, but obviously not out of mind for some people.|
Vandalism is not a new problem in Spring Canyon. Now, the destructive acts are focusing on government sponsored facilities.
"There has been a definite increase shooting things up in the canyon," indicated county recreation director Steve Christensen during the Carbon Commission's regular meeting. "And the more signs that are posted, the more targets they seem to have."
In recent years, the county has invested a significant amount of money putting a walking trail into the canyon and installing restroom facilities.
The restrooms have apparently become the target of at least one small group of vandals.
"It used to be that I would go up there and there was one or two bullet holes in the walls," explained Christensen. "Now there are dozens of holes."
Commissioners have struggled to keep the road to the top of the canyon open for access to public land, even though the majority of the property is privately owned. Owners have reported destruction of property, thefts and assault incidents in the area. Christensen said the Carbon County Sheriff's Office has committed to making more trips up the canyon, but he doubted that would solve the problem.
"The chances of catching anyone doing anything up there is very remote," said the recreation director. "In fact, we have had some really strange stuff besides shooting stuff up too. We have found three old televisions that had been thrown off the cliff where people go rock climbing and I have had to pick them up. One was a full size console television."
But the shooting is still the major problem.
"I picked up 140 45-caliber casings around the restroom facilities," said Christensen. "Maybe we should look at some kind of reward for reporting people who are shooting everything up."
Christensen also reported that all-terrain vehicles are starting to use the paved trail set aside for people who want to walk. He said when the county has put in posts to keep ATVs out, someone comes and pulls them out.
Ray Hanson, the county road supervisor, said he thought most of the problems were occurring on weekends and at night. County crews maintain the road in the winter and see a lot of what goes on first hand.
The suggestion of putting a gate across the road was made. But the county has hesitated to install a gate because of their desire to keep public access open. A gate would also not keep out people on foot.
"I'm wondering if there is some way we haven't thought of to keep this vandalism down," said Commissioner Steve Burge. "Maybe we should look at some studies and see what others are doing to control similar problems."
The commission asked county attorney Gene Strate to explore the legalities of installing a gate.
In an unrelated matter, the commissioners discussed using grant money for a study on a joint city-county-college recreation center. The county has to use the grant or return the money to the agency approving the funding.
"I would like to put some of that money to use so people can see what a center like this would be like if we build it," stated Burge. "I know we haven't totally agreed on a place for it, but putting it around the Price pool complex would cut the overall cost down, and the college also said they would be a partner there as well."
Burge said he had attended a number of meetings about attracting people into the area. Often, people express concerns about the lack of recreational activities. He believed a recreational facility would draw people to Carbon County.
"There's a pool already in place there and it just makes sense to me," said Burge. "With a plan in place, at least we would have a starting place."
Commissioner Mike Milovich said spending money on a plan the county may not use seemed to be a waste..
"I just think we are predisposing ourselves if we do this," stated Milovich. "We have no estimate on what such a facility would cost and we would be spending money on something we might not use."
In the last year, a design firm gave the county an estimate of $8,200 to draw up the proposal for the center and Burge felt the documents would give officials a chance to view what could be.
Milovich said that any kind of recreational center would provide direct competition to businesses offering workout facilities.
"How do we explain that to them?" asked Milovich.
But Burge was adamant about the center and said that studies have shown that when exercise activities happen in town it increases everywhere.
Commissioner Bill Krompel said that he has some reservations about such a center, but that he is not opposed to it.
"The fact that the entire thing would be on Price City property is of concern to me," he said. "We would have to look into the legalities of us supporting that. I also think we would need a letter of support from CEU and in addition we would need to look at what the maintenance and operations costs would be over the years."
With those extra suggestions in place the commission voted 2-1 to go ahead with studying such a center.
The commission also opened bids for asphalt for road work this summer season. The two bidders were Peak Asphalt at $158 per ton and Koch Asphalt at $159 per ton. The commission voted to accept the Peak bid.