Didn’t get to Alpine’s sliding rock this year? Well, you’re out of luck — forever.
On Tuesday night the Alpine City Council gave preliminary approval to an amendment to a revived subdivision, and part of the development plan is to permanently close sliding rock, which is on private property within the development. The developer even may destroy the rock formation — a natural water slide — so new residents of pricey homes don’t have to deal with people trespassing to get to the popular spot.
Sliding rock has been a popular spot in Alpine for generations and in recent years has become a magnet for people from outside the area, too. It’s so popular that it’s been a problem for people who already live in the area, with hikers illegally parking, even right under no-parking signs along the street.
Members of the city council said they understand why the community is upset about the closure and possible destruction of sliding rock. But they say there’s nothing they can do — the land isn’t for sale.
“It’s not ours and it never was ours,” said Councilwoman Kimberly Bryant. “We have borrowed this property for years and years and years and have been able to use it.”
Several years ago sliding rock was for sale, she said. The city put the issue on the ballot and voters rejected the purchase.
But Bryant and Councilman Troy Stout asked the developer to refrain from destroying the natural wonder.
“We’re accommodating your plan,” Stout said. “We ask that you refrain from doing anything that’s long-term irreversible.”
Though the council didn’t take any public comment — and no one asked to speak — during the meeting, it did hear from a city planning commissioner who was upset that the plan it OK’d and sent to the city council was not what the city council considered on Tuesday night.
Bryce Higbee said when the subdivision was being debated by the planning commission, the plan was for sliding rock to become public open space, as long as the city was willing to take it.
“We were completely taken aback and shocked when it was there at the meeting all of a sudden proposed as private and a notice that they’ll destroy it,” he said.
Bryant said that there’s been so many problems with parking and disrespect for private property that she thinks the developers felt their hands were tied and had to close the area.
There was also an issue of liability for the city, had it taken on the property. City attorney David Church said if the city owned the land it would put up no trespassing signs and warnings that people sliding were doing so at their own risk. “It would not meet any standards for a recreation facility.”
Bryant said that now this is done, the city should focus on the good coming from the development. There will be new public trails built by the developer and hundreds of acres of open space.
And if the developer decides to destroy sliding rock, it won’t be able to do so without permission. Church said the developer would need a stream alteration permit from the state.