St. George in talks to mend hillside gash

Jun 10, 2013

Some residents in St. George are tired of seeing the scars of haphazard development, and are looking for ways to mend a giant gash in one of the city’s hillsides. Matt Jensen reports.

St. George – famous for its year-round sunshine and towering red rock buttes – is in talks about how to cover the dark red slash on Black Hill, next to the iconic white-washed letter “D.”

On June 6, a citizen group called the Hillside Reclamation Committee presented to the city council a number of options to restore the gouge. St. George Councilwoman Gail Bunker says it’s long past time to address the issue.

This Google Earth image shows the eastern side of Black Hill with its excavation marks for a residential project that was never completed.
Credit Google

"It's really a blight," she says, "because it's a beautiful hill. We love our mesas and the buttes that surround us. And to have that great big scar there, it's just been very difficult to live with."

The earth at the base of Black Hill, just west of Bluff Street, was excavated back in the 1980s to make room for a residential development that never happened. What’s left is a reminder of the importance of civic planning.

"People ask all the time why we allowed that, and of course that was before I was on the council," she added. "But there wasn't a hillside ordinance (back then). Now we have some very strict ordinances and we evaluate every time anything is brought that disturbs any hill, regardless of whether it's a beautiful one or not."

Options to restore the hillside include building homes tall enough to cover the mark and to rebuild parts of the butte with fill and concrete.

"One of the things they brought up in our city council meeting last week is that if we could approve a three-story condominium, that would cover up a lot of that scar," said Bunker. "And then the other portion that's south of there, if there's a way of putting back some of the soil that was lost, we might can make it look like it hasn't been disturbed."

Bunker says the project is still in initial planning phases. For Utah Public Radio, I'm Matt Jensen.