Each day is different at Annie McVay’s new job as Moab’s Parks, Recreation and Trails director, which she started on June 14, 2021. Her role oversees the management and development of all city parks, as well as supervising the recreation department, the Moab Arts and Recreation Center, the Moab Aquatic and Recreation Center and the Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission.
The director role hasn’t existed for at least five years at the city, McVay said, so her job now is to pull all of the departments under her umbrella together to make a big picture view of how to expand and upgrade. The Moab Sun News recently sat down with her for a Q&A and brought along some reader-submitted questions.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Moab Sun: How has the job been going since you started?
McVay: It’s going really good! I’ve been here for about two months now. I’m getting settled into Moab and doing some exploring and getting to know the town. It’s been really great.
Moab Sun: What does your typical day look like?
McVay: It’s a lot of things. There’s a couple different departments that I manage. Right now I’m spending a lot of time at the pool (the Moab Aquatic and Recreation Center), just getting organized there and getting to know our parks team as well as other sports and rec. So it’s kind of all over the place.
MS: Something new every day! What are your current projects under the recreation sphere?
M: We just finished our registration for the fall sports (on August 23). So this week, they’re training new coaches and getting organized and getting uniforms. We’re excited that we can have and actually run a fall sports program this fall with COVID restrictions.
MS: What about for city parks?
M: For city parks right now, we’re pretty much in full operations and maintenance mode. We spend most of the week just really maintaining the parks. We have been short staffed, so it’s kind of a push to get all the watering and mowing and edging done. When things start to slow down, we can start working on some more fun projects.
MS: Do you have any future plans to expand? Will we be seeing any bigger changes to city parks soon?
M: Yes, and that’s something we’re going to start working on right now. There currently isn’t a master plan for the park system, so it’s going to be really exciting to gear up. With the funding this year, we’ll be in planning mode, so any new projects that come on board will wait a minimum of a year as we get organized. There’s so many opportunities with all of the departments, so we’re getting a master list together. Then we can assess our priorities.
MS: What are some of your future goals or aspirations as director?
M: Well, I definitely know that there are certain amenities that we want to add to the system. We know that pickleball is a huge use out there that needs more permanent courts. We would love to expand, although land opportunities in Moab are limited. So that can be a challenge of how to provide new amenities with limited land. A lot of our system could be upgraded, we have bathrooms and facilities that are definitely dated. We could use some modernization.
MS: Do you interact with the community to take their questions or concerns?
M: We haven’t started that process yet. It’s still pretty new. But yes, it is our plan to, within the larger master planning processes, get feedback from the community.
MS: We recently posted on Facebook asking if anyone had questions about the parks. Someone asked: How will the city lead the way demonstrating responsible, conservative and efficient water practices, and where applicable, prioritize the ecological health of our parks, waterways, and public spaces over traditional uses and practices such as three-season green lawns? And is there a plan to evaluate opportunities to transition any existing parks to more drought-tolerant, resilient models?
M: That’s a great question. Right now, we don’t have an official water management plan for the parks. But our park staff, who have been working on the ground for years, are very aware [of the watering issues]. We have a system where you can change the watering daily, so the park staff is in tune to when the grass doesn’t need watering when it has rained. But we are looking into partnering with USU [Utah State University] to come up with a better water management plan with different watering strategies and different types of grasses that we might be able to use in our parks. We might put some science into how we water our parks.
MS: Another question from Facebook: Will we see 15 mph speed limit signs on the multi-use paths?
M: Yes, actually, that’s something that we’re doing currently. I think it’s a good idea, especially with e-bikes. We’re working on that right now.
MS: So what’s the timeline? I know earlier you mentioned a year—do you think that’s a good timeline for making these bigger changes?
M: I think it’ll take at least a year of planning. And then obviously funding is limited. Once we have the larger plan, we’ll be identifying our priorities, and I think that’s going to be the most challenging part. There are so many opportunities, all in different divisions, and they fight for the same pool of money. It’s exciting, and I think the fun part of the planning is that you can dream big.
MS: Do you have anything else you want to add?
M: Just that I’m really excited to be here. Trails have always been a passion of mine. I’ve been making some key connections here in town; I think improving the transportation is going to be great, and I’ve been working with the swim center to maybe offer more activities to engage the community and use that space a little better. But our programs have done really well—sports and rec serve over 1200 children every year, which is really great. So the first part is just getting to know everyone, and then we can start implementing our biggest priorities.
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