Blanding opposes Bears Ears expansion

The City of Blanding addressed an expansion of Bears Ears National Monument at the December 8 Council meeting.

A motion passed, in part as a response to a San Juan County Commission request that President-elect Joe Biden restore Bears Ears National Monument to its original boundaries.

Councilwoman Cheryl Bowers said, “When this goes out to the media, the media makes it sound like all of San Juan County wants the Bears Ears to be increased, but it’s just not so.

“I would like to make our position...clear and sent to our local and federal legislators and also to the news media so that they understand this isn’t the entire county, that there are people here that feel differently than the Commission does.”

The Blanding City Council also reached out to Monticello concerning the resolution. It will include references to the initial monument process in 2016 and the boundary reduction that took place in 2017. It will point out that the city views have not changed.

One concern to be addressed is the boundaries changing with every change of president. The council agreed to the process of creating a motion.

In other matters, the City of Blanding could see some restoration of recreation facilities. The play ground at Centennial Park will undergo a new surface repair at no cost to the city.

According to the council, the last surface was installed in too cold of weather and now shows a 20-year wear and tear instead of a few years. The installing company will return to redo them, this time in warmer months.

The council also noted that recreation center users have been gracious and respectful of COVID-19 rules and are excited to still use the Rec Center.

Another project in the research phase is to replace the baseball and softball fields. It was stated that the fields are not up to par for players and are hard on the kids that play on them due to the dirt mixture.

City Councilmember Logan Monson read a statement sent by a passionate citizen, whose name was not shared. It read, “The baseball/softball fields are a tremendous asset to the community, however they desperately need functional baseball dirt to realize their full utility.

“If the city has a desire to make these upgrades to the fields, I am willing to donate $5,000 towards the cause. I know this is not a ton of money, but this is something I am passionate about, and I want to put my money where my mouth is.”

The city has sought bids to have the old dirt removed, reused elsewhere, and place the appropriate mix of dirt.

Mayor Joe B. Lyman said the city should look for advice from people who understand the sporting aspect of it and check if there really is a problem with the dirt. If so, then pursue its replacement.

The mix recommended should be 10 to 15 percent clay, 10 to 15 percent silt, and 70 percent a good sand. Professional fields use 30 percent more clay because it is easier to maintain and doesn’t get too hard when wet.

The council expressed interest in the project and suggested that the school would be willing to contribute due to high school players using the fields. The city will move forward to collect more data and explore different options.

The police department reports a significant increase in speeding in the city. The theory is that due to COVID-19, people aren’t taking highways as much and are found to be speeding “like crazy” on the main roads in small towns. There have been 171 citations so far this year compared to 62 last year. There is also a continued rise in citations for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Kim Palmer presented the 2019-2020 audit report for review and approval. There were no non-compliance findings in the audit.

In years past, the county has provided a dumpster for the community for post-Christmas needs. The county, due to COVID-19, will not have the staff to help out this year.

The council would like the service to be available to residents so they can carry out for service needs on Monday and have them dumped on Tuesday.

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