SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly three months after its reopening, Allen Park will be closed for the winter because of potential safety risks, the city announced Wednesday. The park — commonly referred to as “Hobbitville” by nearby residents — has attracted thousands of visitors since its reopening in October.
Despite its popularity, Salt Lake City Public Lands Division said it made the decision because of expected snowfall.
“The winter season presents unique challenges at Allen Park,” the division said in a statement. “Allen Park has only one walkway, and having snow and ice on it presents obvious safety hazards.”
A highlight of 2020 was the acquisition & opening of Allen Park. Unfortunately, due to anticipated challenges with snow removal on a new & unique property during the 1st year of ownership, SLC is implementing a provisional wintertime closure. More info: https://t.co/z6Y6K4ytqh pic.twitter.com/Tdxm9J9qbC
— SLC Public Lands (@SLCPPL) December 30, 2020
The road that sits along Allen Park Drive makes snowplowing “impossible,” according to the city; salting isn’t an option because of the park’s proximity to Emigration Creek. According to the Public Lands Division, they can’t shovel by hand because of the time commitment required and “the numerous other properties that our crews must keep clear from snow during the winter.”
“Considering these challenges and the snow that is expected in coming weeks, Salt Lake City is implementing a provisional wintertime closure of Allen Park for public safety purposes,” the division said.
It’s not clear how long the closure will last, but the city said it could extend until the end of March 2021.
The odd, but whimsical, history of Allen Park
This comes just three months after Allen Park reopened to the public for the first time in roughly half a century. The quirky neighborhood has long been a beloved site in Sugar House, with longstanding myths surrounding its history.
For years, high school and college students frequently trespassed the area claiming to look for the dwarves who live there. Neighbors even coined the 7-acre site “Hobbitville” because of its signature small cabins and houses.
The park bears the name of its founder, Dr. George Allen: A prominent local surgeon who served on the Salt Lake Zoological Society and played instrumental roles in the creation of Utah’s Hogle Zoo and the Tracy Aviary.
After several years, the bird sanctuary became a refuge for Utahns who wanted to escape the growing city.
However, residents vacated the area in January after the landlord and site owners died — leaving the park’s future uncertain. The park — located on 1300 East across from Westminster College — hosts several historic buildings and pieces of artwork, prompting pleas from nearby residents to preserve the site.
Not long after, Salt Lake City purchased the area in March 2020 — with its reopening just seven months later.
“The preservation of this one of a kind space in our city is an important milestone for us, and for generations of Salt Lakers to come,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall in a statement Oct. 1. “I am happy that the day has finally come when everyone will be able to see and experience what a special place Allen Park is.”
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