By Robert Stevens
Gunnison committee considers three concepts for G-Hill renovation
GUNNISON—Gunnison City’s longtime plan to improve the G-Hill moved along at a special meeting last week.
On Wednesday, Sept. 19, the mayor, the council and the newly formed Gunnison Trails Steering Committee gathered at the work meeting to discuss options for improving the G-Hill area.
“This has been kind of a long road, but it’s ok to take our time and think about these things,” said Gunnison Mayor Lori Nay before the meeting began.
Brandon Stocksdale from the National Park Service was at the meeting along with representatives from the Utah State University landscape architecture department. Gunnison City leadership had requested their help with the planning process and the work meeting was mostly to show the fruits of their labor to the council and trails committee.
“Our goal is to help you develop a plan to protect access and provide recreational opportunities of all kinds of users there at the G-Hill,” Stocksdale said “My hope with this process is to present a plan that doesn’t just sit on a shelf somewhere. I want to help see this project be successful and identify sources of funding and resources that can help see this project through.”
In fall 2018 a series of public input workshops were held during the creation of the new Gunnison City general plan. During the input sessions, Stocksdale and the city collected feedback on how the G-Hill could and should be improved upon. The presentation at the meeting was a development of concepts that came from that feedback.
“Based on the feedback we have heard a lot of emphasis is placed on maintaining this as an iconic location for the community,” Stockdale said. “Our goal is not to close access to anyone, but we want to look into how to manage access for everyone better and improve the overall experience.”
According to Stocksdale, the public feedback also placed high priority to being able to light up the G so it could be seen from fair away at night as an icon or symbol of the area, like Beaver currently does.
Stocksdale introduced Jake Powell from the Utah State University (USU) Extension Department of Landscape Architecture. Powell brought three G-Hill plan concept variations to show the council and trails committee.
“These are concepts, our way of throwing a ball into your court to see what you think,” Powell said. “If any of these ideas resonate with you that is what we want to know. We want something to grab hold of and work towards.”
Powell said they used drones to make maps of the G-Hill to use in the process of creating the concepts, and employed a variety of analysis methods to determine the most common users and uses of the area.
“Our first impression was ‘what a special place the G-Hill is,’” Powell told the room. “It’s an icon and rightly so it has a G on it to represent the community.”
Powell explained that the significant network of current trails in the G-Hill area were constantly eroding and being replaced. The concepts presented were all variations on the same general idea.
The most central feature of the concept variations was an access area where people drive to the top and park. From the parking area, trails would lead you to different things, such as shade structures, picnic benches and scenic lookouts. They also said solar power could be used to light up the structures, and interpretive signage could be added for educational value.
In addition to the amenities and structures, the three concepts all had variations on a trail system to accommodate hikers, mountain bikers and OHV riders.
Powell said to maximize enjoyment and minimize conflict, it would be optimal to arrange the trail system so that the different kinds of trail users would not have to share the trails with each other (IE: hikers and bikers would have separate trail systems).
As Powell showed the concepts to the council and committee, he asked for feedback from the group.
Gunnison Valley High School Asst. Principal Rhett Jackson said that students at the high school have wanted the ability to light up the G on the hill at night for a long time, and he didn’t want anything else in the G-Hill area to be lit up so much that it would compete with the G for attention.
Stocksdale responded by saying the public feedback sessions had shown that “lighting the G” was a reoccurring wish from members of the community when asked what could be done to improve the G-Hill area.
After going over the concepts, the group adjourned with the goal of addressing the matter again in an October meeting of the Trails Steering Committee.