Commission Briefs (2/5/19): Road from Navajo Mountain to Oljato, CRAs, and a San Juan County Railroad?

Much of Tuesday’s county commission meeting focused on resolutions related to Bears Ears National Monument, which the Canyon Echo covered at length, but there were also other topics of discussion.

Natalie Randall, the county’s Director of Economic Development and Tourism, presented information to the commissioners on Community Reinvestment Areas (CRAs), which the school district declined to participate in last month. Although the school district receives roughly 70 of property taxes in the county, Randall said there is still an opportunity for the commission to offer its portion of the property taxes to developers who have applied to participate in the CRAs. Commissioner Grayeyes asked whether helping new developments could hurt existing businesses.

The commissioners approved Bluff resident Marx Powell to become a member of the county’s Water Conservancy Board. Grayeyes said he’d sit on the county’s Public Health Board, and the commission approved Bluff’s representative to the board, Lois Young.

During the commissioner reports, Commissioner Adams described a recent visit he took to the state legislature, and commented on Rep. Phil Lyman’s road closure amendment, which would criminalize the blocking of roads and RS 2477 claims in the state. “We’ll watch that,” Adams said. “We certainly don’t want access denied where access is truly needed.”

Adams also mentioned a revived effort to fund construction of a road from Oljato to Navajo Mountain on the Navajo Nation. Although they’re only 30 miles apart, the fastest route between the two towns currently requires making a 110-mile, 2.5 hour trip through Arizona. Adams said the point person for that issue is Utah Sen. David Hinkins.

Grayeyes serves on Utah’s Seven County Infrastructure Coalition and reported that railroad extensions were discussed at a recent meeting in Price. There is talk about extending rail lines from Price to the Vernal area to access coal reserves as part of the coalition’s 100-year plan. Grayeyes said he was toying with the idea of proposing a railroad extension through San Juan County and the Navajo Nation to connect the I-70 and I-40 corridors. “It’s a seed I put in the ground that may grow 100 years from now,” Grayeyes said.

Grayeyes went on to discuss negotiations with the Navajo Nation DOT to improve road conditions on the reservation.

Commissioner Maryboy also spoke about roads and said he’s conducting an inventory of roads in the county, including in Westwater.