Alpine’s natural sliding rock permanently closed

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Alpine Natural Slide

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.

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Amie Rose has more than 14 years of experience writing and editing at newspapers in Utah and New Mexico. She graduated from BYU with a degree in journalism. She lives in Utah Valley with her husband, toddler and crazy dog.

35 Comments

  1. B. English Reply

    BOO!!! Boo to the whole thing!! We have been going there with friends and family for years!! It’s very disappointing!! And talk of destroying something so beautiful is alarming!! Boo!!!!!

    1. CHINCHUDO Reply

      I have to agree. If someone built a housing development near Delicate arch would they destroy the arch so people wouldn’t trespass? And they tout themselves at being so kind to nature. What hypocrisy. I have never been to the slide because I didn’t know about it.

      But at the same time if it is on private land they should be able to do what they want with it. On the other hand if it is public and Alpine is just doing this to make money, because they are, they shame on them. After public outrage Alpine will then say how the slide is a safety hazard to get what they want. Many times people are really sick and selfish when it comes down to their motivations. We will see how things go.

      1. AlonzoRiley Reply

        Look into easement laws. If people have been using it to recreate or to pass through, private property can’t ignore that. Of course, you have to have a few legal dollars. Most of the time those with money and property win over the rights of the public. But not always. Europe actually went through a long history with this kind of thing, which resulted in “freedom to roam” laws which means that as long as you are not breaking any laws, you can’t be cut off from access to land because it might be encircled by private land. There’s more details, of course, but that’s some of the gist.

  2. Mike Lewis Reply

    the fact these unnamed developers would even threaten to destroy the place makes me think it’s the Pattersons. It sounds like their kind of move!

    Why is the city of Alpine even tolerating threats from a developer?

    Stand up for something Alpine. You’ve already let them tear into Lambert Park.

    That’s a big Bowl of Porridge you sold out for.

    1. George Reply

      Alpine city is forcing the developer to make several millions of dollars in improvements to the city roads in order to even develop. The developer is also adding trails and enhancing the surrounding land of their own choice and expense in addition. This article is unfortunately lacking in some important info.

      Also Sliding Rock will not be destroyed. It’s actually going to be made better and more beautiful. Outrage because facts are not properly known.

      1. Yordanys Reply

        I live in Nevada and am trying to plan a fun trip to Utah without going to Zion. I have been there numerous times and believe there has to be more to Southern Utah.
        This is the 3rd time in 2 days where I have come across a location that is permanently closed due to legal issues between the landowners and whom ever else. This is really quite sad. What is going on up there??

  3. ACG Reply

    Freaking rediculous….Alpine is becoming more boring each year. Stuff like this pisses me off. Next thing they’re going to do is develop Lambert’s and then there will be absolutely no recreational activities for people to do around here. Keep making Alpine a worse place to live; I’ll be heading somewhere better soon if you keep this stuff up.

  4. Meesh Reply

    People are not understanding the issues at all. It has nothing to do with Alpine and the city trying to make money. It is not the city’s choice to begin with because it is PRIVATE PROPERTY. If you actually read the article you would see that the city council are bummed about it too. What would you do if you were the developer? I happen to know the developer is a really awesome person who has been allowing people to trespass on his private property for years and years!! His hands are tied on this one. People are trespassing on to his PRIVATE property and in so doing are causing problems. Also if you had a bunch of land and you were ready to develop it you are saying you wouldn’t just because a bunch of people like to trespass on to your property to play? Of course it’s partly about money. It’s TONS of land that he has put off developing for a long time. This is his job, it’s what he does! And it’s HIS! The developer/developers have been more than generous in allowing people to trample over his land for years and years and now he is going to do what has been in the plans all along. You can’t fault them for that. I guess they should have never allowed people on their property on their property in the first place hu? He should have just called the cops on every trespasser. Now that would have been a Patterson move. All I have to say is I’m sorry to see it go. But it wasn’t ever mine to begin with. Thanks for all the memories we were able to make the past years. Sheesh, talk about being selfish and greedy. All the previous comments are people who want to keep something that was never theirs to begin with.

    1. Elizabeth Reply

      The developer is Will Jones, as I see that you know already. It’s so funny how the Patterson’s who were under this exact same situation (owned their own rightfully bought property for decades) get angry people not letting them develop on their own land. I have known many people over the past few years that have gotten the cops called on them for using Will Jones land, and rightfully so! In fact, this summer, there was a cop that just sat at the entry way to Sliding Rock all day most days. It’s all about prescriptive easement for both Pattersons and Will Jones. If you don’t know what that is, look it up.

      1. AlonzoRiley Reply

        Private property is never as clear cut as you think. There have always been laws that allow these types of issues to be negotiated. It could easily be argued to be a causeway. If the public has used it in the past there are legal precedents to allow the public to use it in the future.

    2. CharityAprilL Reply

      Legal owner of “private” land doesn’t hold much weight. If someone- even only one person- has been accessing or using some property (say you walk across my land to get to yours) for this long, an easement overrides the owners right to then change that and prevent that person or those people from doing it anymore. The city can’t be that ignorant to easements, or government power. The government can essentially strong-arm you out of your property without even having a reason if it really wants to. This article makes them seem either spineless or sneaky, like they have some hidden agenda but don’t want to look like the bad guys.

      1. Garet Reply

        The other issue is that if people get hurt using sliding rock they can sue the land owners. That’s a huge liability to leave out there and is not fair to the land owners.

  5. mo Reply

    The government has the authority to force an owner to sell when it is for the good of the public, eminent domain. Generally I am of the mind that the government should stay out of our lives. However, there are time when we need the power of the government. This is such a time.

    One selfish landowner wants to block off and possibly rip out a natural landmark enjoyed by thousands. Instead of ripping it out, blocking access or both – the city should buy this, or the state, and turn it into a park. It does not matter that it is not for sale the city should force it. We need to preserve some of our outdoor fun not restrict access.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain

  6. Ty Reply

    Agreed with Jen and Meesh. This has always been private property and people have been trespassing for years. Alpine published a quick article on their site (http://www.alpinecity.org/) in response to all the outcry. The plan is for sliding rock to remain in “private open space.”

    Funny how this was voted on years ago by the residents of Alpine and they voted NOT to buy the property.

  7. David Reply

    Oh yes, what a saint he must be, letting the plebians defile his private natural wonder for all these years. I’m sure your’e right and his hands are absolutely tied– he’s probably being dragged towards those millions of dollars just kicking and screaming, just wishing on a falling star that there were some other option besides destroying the beautiful little natural wonder. Alas, what a tragic hero.

    Bottom line: nobody doubts he’s in his legal rights to destroy Alpine’s most interesting and unique natural landmark if he wants to. But if that’s his best defense for doing it, the case against his not being a greedy asshole seems pretty weak indeed.

    1. Garet Reply

      The land owner was willing to let people use it if it weren’t for the massive liability that he would be exposed to. He tried to give it to the city, the people voted no. He looked at ways to keep it open, but if one person came up there and fell or hurt themselves then he is liable for millions of dollars in lawsuits which would inevitably come. It’s easy to demonize someone when you don’t know the facts and don’t care to find out. The fact remains that Alpine slide is not very safe. It’s easy to get hurt there. Yeah it’s cool and beautiful, it’s also not a simple as your assumption concludes.

      Secondly the land owner is not destroying sliding rock he is improving it and making it much better to see and experience.

  8. Magaret Reply

    I was at the planning council meeting, and heard what was proposed. I do agree, that one of the City Council members, owns the property and has the right to do with it as he pleases. However, what was proposed was not what was brought forward. I didn’t attend the City Council meeting, because you are not able to make comments anyway. I thought it was going to be proposed as had been submitted to the Planning commission. That was to allow a limited number of vistors to the site. This is the second time I have seen this happen. What is proposed, is not what is voted and passed on. I think it might be time to have a few less developers on the city council.

  9. Royce Bartholomew Reply

    All waterways in the State (Nation) are controlled by organizations other than the land owners who own the dirt under the rivers and streams. Whether it is the US Army Corps of Engineers or a water users association or whoever, the water belongs to share holders other than the land owner and they cannot alter the course of nor impound any water without permits. The best the land owners can do is either enforce no trespassing on private property or fence the area which would create an eyesore. If walking trails are put in place as proposed, then they become public access corridors which invite public access. There may or may not be trails close to the creek but that would be the most scenic areas to do so. I think more public input and dialog with landowners is in order and also respect for private property needs to be honored.

  10. Thomas Reply

    Maybe the community should rewrite the standards which actually reflect their values. This sounds like open space and needs to be an easement. It’s also a historical part of our community with lots of memories of many, many generations. Replace it with a vinyl fence and a suburb?

  11. Ally Reply

    There was a time when the city of Sandy paid people the cost of the land they took over to widen a road. It was one 8200 south and about 1300 east. If alpine city really wanted to buy and developed that land for recreation I don’t see why they can’t? Just a little something for y’all to think about.

  12. Joe Reply

    Is this place really closing!?
    This is sad very sad to hear I mean I loved that place so much and we would go every year. Now to see it is closed just makes me pissed off about it all.

  13. Mike McCormick Reply

    I understand the landowners rights to the land but it is a shame that the city Council and the landowner can’t work something out that would be a win for everyone and preserve this natural wonder for several more generations.
    It truly is a natural wonder. If you have been there and watched the kids and adults slide down those granite rocks you would agree !

  14. Garet Reply

    Actually the land owner is making sliding rock even better. It will be landscaped and beautiful around that area. Sliding rock is not being destroyed.

  15. George Reply

    I know the developers and the homeowners. They are the biggest proponents of keeping Sliding Rock beautiful and even improving the entire area. They are spending enormous amounts of money in order to accomplish that. It’s been a labor of over twenty years for them. They want to keep it beautiful and improve the land where they can. There are and will be many examples of this if you look.

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