The most economical of 13 potential Cedaredge sewer plant locations has been sent down the drain by the town board.
Trustees meeting on March 21 eliminated three possible sites for the new sewer plant, including the one favored by engineers and which is the least expensive of the 13 options studied.
Eight other potential locations had already been scratched from the list of finalists. Only two now remain.
The project engineers' top pick, a now-rejected site along the 10th fairway of Cedaredge Golf Course, was the only one offering the substantial cost advantage of being town owned. All of the other 12 potential sites studied would have required acquiring land.
The 10th fairway site also had strong political opposition from residents who live in housing at the golf course.
Town board members didn't give any reasons for scratching the engineers' choice and choosing more expensive options for study. It was a decision that none of the town board members tried to justify; not on the basis of economy nor by any other standard.
There was no voice vote on the action. The voting was by show of hands that wasn't visible from parts of the meeting room. The trustee votes were not recorded. The engineers' top pick site on the 10th fairway did not get even one vote, until Mayor Pat Means raised her hand for it.
Cedaredge resident Bob Page gave the board some reasons why they should have picked the town-owned site.
Page, who owns apartments in Cedaredge for seniors on fixed Social Security incomes, reminded the board of the continual rate increases in recent years. "We have seniors and low income people in town and rates just keep going up, and up, and up."
The cost of a new sewer plant should be the main criteria in the board's decision, Page said, "I think you are making a mistake taking the number-one choice off the list."
The 10th fairway location would save on land cost and will be the least expensive to develop and operate, he pointed out. "You have got to think of the people who pay the bills. There are a lot of seniors in this community and a lot of people who aren't very wealthy."
There are two sites still under consideration: one is on the 11th green of the golf course and is the town board's own number-one pick. The 11th green site is about 500 feet further from golf course residences than the 10th fairway site is.
There is another finalist site located further south of the golf course, outside of town. It is about a half mile west of Old Goat Trail Road and is not favored because of high development and operation cost estimates.
Both sites are showing significantly higher costs than the rejected engineers' first choice does. But now the numbers are being changed almost daily as "additional study" is done to try to include new cost scenarios, such as $609,080 for tunnel boring between Old Goat Trail and Surface Creek.
With the town's most economical but most politically unpleasant option now off the table, trustees are free to try to put together a deal for the 11th green site which, for reasons unstated, has become the most desired one.
The DCI learned following the town board's meeting last week that a land swap deal is in the works. The town needs land for a new 11th hole to replace land taken by a sewer plant. Trustees want to get the land for a new 11th hole by swapping for access with a neighboring property owner – Alpine Bank.
Town officials think that by simply swapping land for a new 11th hole they will be able to lower cost figures on the 11th green location enough to quiet citizen objections for having rejected the more economical 10th fairway site.
But to get that free piece of land, the town would be giving up access to multi-million-dollar developable property on the golf course's east side, Trustee Ray Hanson explained to the DCI. Owners of large parcels in the area are Ensley Properties, Inc; JWL Associates LLC; and, the bank, according to county records.
Any land swap deal is only a possibility at the moment. But a deal like that might be what Mayor Pat Means meant when she told the public after the trustees' decision, "There's a lot more to it." And, Hanson added, "It's called 'horse trading'."
It is not clear how opening property east of the golf course to new development would benefit the town. Only two weeks ago the trustees were in agreement that the hundreds of undeveloped building lots now sitting empty in Cedaredge need to be built out before any annexations or other new development takes place.
The 11th green site was a late comer to the town's site evaluation process. It rocketed to the top of the list and became the town board's unanimous choice only a week after first being proposed at a work session on March 14.
The 11th green site appeared on the list following a months-long study process, paid for with help of a $20,000 state grant, that had turned up substantial technical drawbacks or political liabilities with the first 12 siting options that were proposed.
State grants for site studies are given out normally as a prerequisite for the town applying to get more grant funds to build. Acceptance of grant funds for a site study does not normally obligate a town to accept the study's recommendations.blog comments powered by Disqus