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Sandy and Salt Lake County leaders can't easily ignore opponents of a plan for a 3-mile stretch of pavement in a portion of the 646-acre Dimple Dell Regional Park in Sandy.
A group of outdoor-enthusiasts geared up to fight the proposal has organized and multiplied and on Tuesday delivered 6,400 signatures and a survey of 494 people to the county council and Mayor Ben McAdams.
"They have [thousands] of their informed residents saying we don't want this," said Monica Zoltanski, chairwoman of the Dimple Dell Preservation Community, and a resident who rides horses on the park trail.
Council members listened as one by one some of the two dozen residents attending Tuesday's meeting stepped up to the microphone to ask the county to drop the paved-trail plan.
Zoltanski says the group feels spurned by the latest push to develop even a portion of the park. City and county officials considered paving a portion of the trail when it released its December 2005 parks and recreation master plan, noting the growing population has meant a growing group of trail users with different needs and desires.
Part of the park, a narrow strip of parkland running through the center of Sandy, had in the past been considered for a golf course.
"Every year, the county will face greater and greater pressures on open space," Zoltanski said. "This should be the one park that remains wild and we keep it in its wild state so people can experience nature close up without having to go up the canyons."
The group surveyed nearly 500 people, most of them Salt Lake County residents opposed to a paved trail.
The respondents said they preferred better signage, improved picnic tables and a restored park headquarters to be used as a nature center. They also wanted better efforts at erosion control and reseeding native plants.
The group has the attention of state Rep. LaVar Christensen, R-Draper, who toured the park for an hour recently and attended the council meeting Tuesday.
The employees running the county parks department and local elected leaders renewed the idea of a paved path alongside the existing mulch one after voters approved Proposition A in the November election. The measure gave the county $90 million for maintenance and other projects.
The proposition listed the north rim of Dimple Dell first under the proposed items that would receive part of the $31 million dedicated for maintenance.
County employees say the idea is in an early form, and they're beginning to plan maintenance projects in Dimple Dell.
"Because Dimple Dell is a regional park, it serves a lot of people, not just the neighbors who are right there," said Callie Birdsall, a parks and recreation spokeswoman.
In response to the early pushback, the county and Sandy have hired a pollster to survey the region for what a spokeswoman said will show where the community really stands on the issue in the next month.