Last Friday, I attended the soft opening for the Moab Boulder Park at the redesigned Lions Park. Over a dozen children, teens and adults were scrambling over three boulders so massively beautiful I could not help but experience a childlike giddiness. The park, providing exercise and pure fun for all ages, is such a refreshing break from the ubiquitous sanitized playgrounds. But, before we get carried away “oohing” and “ahhing” these monolithic wonders, I want to reflect on how the Boulder Park came to be.
The first thing to note is the welcome sign, bench plaques and bricks paving the way to the boulders reveal the park was funded almost entirely (80 percent) by local business and individual donations. The other 20 percent came from the Utah Governor’s Office for Outdoor Recreation and the Grand County Recreation Special Service District (GCRSSD).
In total, over $300,000 was raised. This effort was entirely orchestrated by one individual: Christina Sloan. Three years ago, she saw a need in the community for accessible, all-ages recreation. No need for expensive equipment or even a car; you can bike there in 15 minutes and climb in your tennis shoes.
Christina pushed for her vision, even though she was met with resistance from our local governments and elected officials in the beginning. She had to attend 15 hours of meetings with the GCRSSD before it gave her $37,500 in funding. By comparison, the ball fields south of town received more than $2 million in funding through GCRSSD.
When Christina needed a letter of support from the Grand County Council to accompany her grant application to the governor’s office, two council members voted against supporting the Boulder Park, even though Christina was not asking the county council for a single penny.
The city, which was initially supportive of the project, tapered somewhat in its support as well. Original plans for the feature to accommodate toddlers were cut by Christina due to an expanding list of requirements from the city’s engineering department. The grand opening of Lions Park did not wait the two months before the Boulder Park was finished, and then, Christina was not asked to attend.
We need to change the culture of how individual initiative is treated in Moab. Motivated, ordinary citizens are assets to this town. If someone from the community donates countless hours, and if local businesses and individuals donate many thousands of dollars to improve our parks, then shouldn’t our local governments and officials provide them with additional resources and support, or even just a big thank you?!
It is time for the city and county to step up and begin this culture of community support. The ball is in your court as they say…