Construction continues on new Bells Canyon trailheadApr 01, 2021 02:32PM ● By Justin Adams
Construction crews work on a retaining wall, as well as the road that will connect the new parking lot to Wasatch Boulevard. (Justin Adams/City Journals)
By Justin Adams | [email protected]
Hikers who have a hard time finding a parking spot to hike up Bells Canyon can celebrate. There will soon be a brand new trailhead and parking lot to accommodate visitors of the extremely popular destination.
The project encompasses 10.6 acres of land located to the southeast side of the intersection of Wasatch Boulevard and Little Cottonwood Road. For years, the land was home to two of the oldest families in Sandy: the Evans and the Richardsons. They agreed to sell the property to Sandy City for a discounted rate with the promise that it would be preserved and turned into a community resource.
“We were willing to look away from these other offers so children can have the same adventures that we had when we were kids,” said Chad Evans during a Sandy City Council meeting at the time.
Since then, the city has drawn up plans, held community feedback meetings and finally started construction last year.
One of the first steps involved an environmental cleanup. The property had accumulated a large amount of physical waste, such as tires, scrap metal and chemical supplies, which needed to be removed before construction could begin. That cost about $25,000-$30,000 according to Parks and Recreation Director Dan Medina.
Other obstacles have included numerous large boulders “the size of a Volkswagen” that have had to be cleared by jackhammer and of course, COVID-19 related setbacks. The contractor’s crew caught the virus and had to quarantine for a time, setting the project back about three weeks, according to Medina.
The project’s timeline was also changed by the death of Kyle Richardson, the last remaining member of the Richardson family to actually live on the property, earlier this year. Original plans for the project included two phases, the second of which would only be started after Richardson’s passing. Now the city is constructing both phases simultaneously, which added about three months to the project timeline.
Medina said the estimated completion date is now looking like sometime in July. The finished product will include about 130 parking stalls, bathrooms, a short nature loop with picnic tables and a helipad. (The area is expected to serve as the base of operations for forest fires or search and rescue operations.)
In January. Medina was promoted to be the head of the Parks and Recreation Department. He replaced Scott Earl, who retired last year.
While studying to become a stockbroker in college, Medina joined the city’s parks and rec department as a seasonal worker over 30 years ago. But his versatility was quickly noticed by the department and they quickly started to move him up the ranks.
“They needed someone to do some computer programming stuff. Being a college student and being into that kind of stuff, I helped with that. Then they said, it’s nice having someone who understands budgets so they made me a budget analyst,” he said.
Medina said that what has kept him working for the city all these years is the great people—both fellow city employees and residents.
“It’s been great because I love Sandy. I love the people that I work with. I think we have an awesome team. That’s why I stayed here.”