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Herriman Journal

Could Herriman City Disallow Swimming at Blackridge Reservoir?

Mar 05, 2020 01:45PM ● By Justin Adams

It may be too cold for swimming now, but the Blackridge Reservoir is an extremely popular destination for both Herriman residents and visitors alike during the summer months (at least when it's not forced to close due to algae bloom). (Justin Adams /The City Journals)

By Justin Adams | [email protected]

The Herriman City Council discussed the possibility of closing Blackridge Reservoir to swimming during its February 26 meeting. 

The popular summer destination has become so popular that city leaders say it draws large crowds from outside the city that cause enough trouble to warrant a police presence, which constitutes a considerable expense for the city. 

“I’ll be honest, on holiday weekends it’s a mess. It’s awful,” said Herriman Police Chief Troy Carr during the meeting. “We have problems with parking, we have problems with neighbors, people doing awful things in yards, like changing clothes and urinating.”

City finance director Alan Rae said the city spent about $13,000 last year for the police presence at Blackridge Reservoir, though it would be a higher amount if it weren’t for the reservoir closing for an extended period of time due to the algae bloom. 

Mayor David Watts said there’s an audible sigh of relief throughout city hall each summer when the reservoir is forced to close. 

“I think that’s an issue,” he said. “In my opinion, if our staff is having that much problem with one of our facilities that wasn’t even initially designed to be a recreation facility, there’s a bigger issue that we need to deal with.”

Council members Sherrie Ohrn and Jared Henderson also expressed concern over the costs of maintaining the reservoir as a recreation destination, but stopped short of committing to an attempt to close the facility this year. 

“I don’t like the swimming there either. I don’t like the cost of it. It seems like such a short term benefit for the cost that goes into it,” said Ohrn.

“My opinion is the cost is not worth the benefit, but for this year I’m fine with the status quo,” said Henderson. 

In a limited canvas of the homes bordering the reservoir, the Herriman Journal was unable to find any residents who supported the closing of the reservoir to swimming. 

Former city council member Mike Day, whose property borders the reservoir, said he would strongly disagree with any decision to limit its recreational uses. 

Both Day and other residents the Herriman Journal spoke with said there used to be parking and traffic problems along the streets leading to the reservoir. But ever since the city put up no parking signs a few years ago, they said they haven’t had any real problems. 

Day also said he believes the majority of the complaints about the reservoir and its impacts on the surrounding neighborhood came from just one person who “always hated it,” and has since moved away. 

Another question that would arise if the city were to disallow swimming is how they would enforce such a ban. 

Carr said that people continue to swim in the reservoir even when there are signs warning about the algae bloom. So any enforcement of a swimming ban would still require an expensive police presence in the area.

“I don’t think we’re going to stop people from using it by saying swimming is prohibited,” said  Ohrn. 

Ironically, the discussion about whether or not to close the reservoir started with a question leading in the opposite direction: whether or not to allow a third party to operate a concession stand at the site.

The city itself had previously operated concessions from a small building constructed for that purpose, but did away with it because of problems that ensued. However, the city has received requests from residents who would like to pick up where the city left off.

“I would be open to the idea,” said Councillor Clint Smith. “It’s not advantageous for the city to operate any concessions up there. However there are facilities in order to do that and there are people who would like to do that… If you have someone that’s willing to put in the effort and take the risk, and there’s potential revenue sharing, that’s something I’m willing to consider.”

To help inform their decision - whether to move towards disallowing swimming or expanding the reservoir’s role as a recreation destination by approving concessions - the council directed city staff to return at a later meeting with information about the two options.

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