Pete Apicella

Is this letter a Hail Mary pass or a lament?

Over the years, I’ve been hired to paint 10 murals along the Parkway and worked to remove graffiti. At one point, the subtitle of my job was “Steward of Mill Creek Parkway.” Still, along with others who care about the Parkway, I wasn’t told about a proposed bike skills park planned to replace one of the quiet, green corners along the path.

I oppose the location of the proposed bike skills pocket park planned in the most natural area of that section of the Mill Creek Parkway. This shady, tree-diverse natural habitat is such a great place to relax and enjoy people walking and biking by and has other, more subtle assets: it is a flood plain, an archeological site, a sound buffer, bird sanctuary, green space, etc…

This bike park was planned under the radar and will cost more than $50,000 over the long term. Many locals are doubly upset because of this aspect.

The sales pitch from planners is that it will be a new, urban pocket park. That is misleading: it already is a park! A new park would be something carved out of urban space and made greener, not carved out of green space and made more urban.

Mill Creek Parkway is such a rare natural public gem for a downtown desert town to have. Pack Creek, the other downtown riparian corridor, is gobbled up by private properties and filled with garbage and thickets.

It’s really hard to buy more public green space in an urban space, and the hard work that locals put into protecting this area should not be ignored.

Why not plan the bike park for the northeast corner of Swanny Park, which is just a giant swath of blank, unclaimed asphalt right where kids currently hang out near the bike/skate ramp park. It’s safer and more visible for youth, which would encourage more use. Even other sections of Mill Creek Parkway seem better!

The current online designs seem incomplete, hard to read and unclear even after a year and half of planning. The current plan has the skills park wrap around the Parkway’s corner, which seems excessive in size and totally destroys the grove’s current human function as a place to chill out in the trees. Once again: good idea, bad location, and a lack of full attention to certain details.

I’m certainly a super bike advocate and am probably one of Moab’s most prominent town bikers. I’ve requested more than the current 4 bike parking spots for 280-seat Star Hall and spoken out about where town bike/stroller/roller improvements can be made, like ramps, curb cuts, linkages, proper curvature of routes, paving gaps, erosion/safety problems, radar activated tunnel lighting, bike parking, etc. People seem to dig all these ideas, emails have been sent, discussions had, but these projects are all still pending after years. Sigh…

I’ve been told the skills park is paired with a grant for a bathroom and that’s why it’s green-lit and planned to go where it is. I can’t find the bathroom on the site plan, but I could understand the reason to build a bathroom.

I do remember when the outhouse was built at the end of Powerhouse Lane to address increased visitation. Instead of the planning designers placing the development on the side of the canyon so the big rock-like permanent structure would blend in with the earth landscape, they plopped the building right in the middle of the canyon’s viewshed on a freshly plowed platform. Considerations like this mean something.

I know it’s political and there are compromises and complexities based on design and budget and timelines. Generally, it’s better to spend a little more time and money to do a longterm permanent project in the best way possible, not shoehorning in a controversial, partially-conceived plan without hearing from people in the community. The idea for the project seems totally neat, but the site is not such a great choice. Can the billion-dollar mountain biking industry contribute some extra funds for a better-sited skills park to help train its future customers?

Thanks for hearing me out.

Pete “PiMo” Apicella is a Moab muralist, steward of Mill Creek Parkway, and local Lorax.