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Sandy • Diana van Uitert moved to Sandy 30 years ago so she could ride her horse through Dimple Dell Regional Park whenever she pleased.
But then van Uitert received a notice on her door, she said, about a proposed golf course smack dab in the middle of it. She couldn't accept such a fate for her beloved park.
She and others fought hard against the plan, she said, and eventually it was sidelined.
Now, in 2017, she finds herself facing a similar fight, she said: elected officials are planning to pave over the 3-mile North Rim Trail with asphalt. Currently, the trail is made of wood chips.
"We were told in the old days when the golf course was being proposed that it was going to happen and there was nothing we could do about it," said van Uitert, a member of the Dimple Dell Advisory Board, on Saturday. "I want you to take a look: we did do something about it."
Van Uitert was among at least 100 people who gathered at Wrangler Trailhead on Saturday to march in opposition of that plan, estimated to cost $4 million. That and other projects were funded through a $90 million bond approved in November by Salt Lake County voters.
But Monica Zoltanski, founder of the Dimple Dell Preservation Community, said many voters, including herself, were unaware that trail maintenance equated to asphalt.
"Every resident we have educated about the park and the proposed asphalt trail is vehemently opposed to the asphalt," Zoltanski said.
So now those who frequent the park are putting up a fight in an effort to derail the project and "Keep Dimple Dell Wild," as their signs boasted Saturday.
For Matthew Ostrander, 40, the current mulch trail allows him to exercise his dog, a Boxer-Mastiff mix, all year round something he's been doing with various dogs for 10 years.
"In the summer, the black asphalt will burn his paws," Ostrander said Saturday. "It just seems like one more way the city is restricting dog owners."
Robert Simpson's home overlooks the park and he worries that a paved trail will be just the first step toward more and more development in the area.
"This is a beautiful, pristine piece of land ... in an area that is very developed you could even argue overdeveloped," Simpson said. Simpson and his wife, Sandy, walk the park two to three times each week and often are joined by their children.
"This is the last wild place in Salt Lake Valley," Sandy Simpson said. "I was raised on a farm and exposed to nature, but we don't have those places for kids anymore."
Callie Birdsall, Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation spokeswoman, said paving the trail was identified as a need by community members more than 10 years ago so that it would be more accessible to people in wheelchairs and strollers, for example.
But in no way is the project a done deal, Birdsall said, adding that officials have been meeting with and talking to park users about their concerns.
"We want to make sure everyone knows that we do listen and we do appreciate their passion for the park," she said. "We're always willing to listen and adapt if necessary."
County and city officials also plan to conduct a poll to better understand community members' wishes for the park, she added.
The preservation community is urging people to contact their county and city elected officials, and have started an online petition against the project, which they plan to deliver to some of those same officials. As of Saturday morning, they had more than 2,600 signatures.
"Before the bulldozers and backhoes destroy the park, we need to tell our elected officials that we oppose their pavement!" the petition states.