As a resident of Moab for 23 years, I have witnessed tremendous growth and change during that time. Probably the biggest change for me is the steady increase in visitation, which now seems to occur throughout most of the year. Living close to Swanny Park, I experience up close and personally constant reminders of the number of special events and other activities that take place in our small community. It seems like just about every weekend, crowds gather for a race or car show or some other celebration.
I’ve heard many folks remark that they too are feeling the effects of this surge in visitation. Along with the people comes increased demand for services: lodging, food, space and available parking downtown. There are other services we may not consider, such as sewage treatment, clean water, and police and fire personnel. There is, of course, ongoing upkeep of all the infrastructure that supports this town.
Another set of services to add to that list is Search and Rescue, EMS and the ER. Here is a case in point. On a Saturday afternoon in early October I found myself in need of the ER, and apparently so did dozens of other folks. It was another weekend during which a big event was taking place so the town was full. While I waited to be seen, all sorts of people were being wheeled, carried and helped through the ER doors to be treated for various injuries and ailments. I watched as ER personnel scrambled to accommodate everyone, but space, equipment and staff were limited. Though my care was fine – no complaints – it was obvious that the resources in the ER were being stretched very thin.
So I wonder, are we as a community prepared and staffed to handle more growth and more visitors? Are necessary services sufficiently funded? It seems to me we have reached a point where we need to take a close look at how much more Moab can handle. Moab seems to have room to accommodate new hotels downtown, but people need more than a place to sleep.