The Town of Cedaredge is challenging a 21-year-old written agreement for sharing irrigation water between Cedaredge Cemetery and Cedaredge Golf Club.
A cemetery district board member charges that the town wants complete control of the cemetery district's water, and it wants to dictate cemetery irrigation practices that could severely curtail watering at the cemetery.
Cemetery board members said last week they want the public to know that responsibility for the communication and other problems rests squarely with the town.
"We are under attack by the town. It is attempting to get complete control of the cemetery's water. The town wants to dictate if and when the cemetery can use its water," said LeRoy Black, a director on the Cedaredge Cemetery District board.
Another of the cemetery district's three board members, Mike Street, is in full agreement. Black adds, "There has been a significant amount of communication (from us) which has all gone through the town administrator."
Black was responding to remarks by the Cedaredge town administrator and by town board members that were made during two public meetings in May. Town officials at those meetings had placed responsibility for failed communication with the cemetery district board.
Not true, Black explained. "Communications from the town have come in the form of demands with deadlines," he said. Letters from the town are followed with "other letters threatening that action will be taken to force compliance with town demands," he added.
Black said that the town is seeking "absolute control and to dictate terms for (cemetery) irrigation. This is all stated in written communication from the town."
The cemetery — a tax-levying special district governed by a board of directors — and the town have for 21 years operated under a "letter of understanding" less than two pages long for sharing water between the cemetery, which irrigates during daylight hours, and the Cedaredge golf course, which uses water to irrigate at night.
That working agreement has been in effect since 1992. But the town began seeking changes to the agreement last September. That was the same month the town board adopted Cedaredge's first-ever Drought Response Plan.
The town sent a new, interim water-sharing agreement to the district last September. "It came out of the blue," said LeRoy Black. "We were blind-sided by it. There was never one word of a re-negotiation."
A district board member signed the interim agreement and returned it to the town. But then in February, before the interim agreement expired on March 1, the town sent another, wholly new water-sharing contract to the district to sign. "It's 10 pages long," Black said. "That's when we knew we were under attack," and that's when the district brought attorney Aaron Clay on board. Black said the district has now ceased communicating with the town except through Clay's office.
As one example of Cedaredge's hardball attitude in the matter, Black showed a letter that was sent to the dictrict by the town seeking a face-to-face meeting and setting a June 4 deadline. The town board, during a May 9 work session, had directed Sickles to send the letter and get a face-to-face meeting with district directors. The letter threatens "official action" by the town trustees in June if the district doesn't agree.
"Our attorney was in court on June 4," Black said. So the meeting requested by the town took place on Friday, June 7. It was a second meeting between the sides. (Clay said a first session had occurred in April where two draft agreements were discussed.)
At the June 7 session, Black and Street were accompanied by attorney Clay. On the town side, town administrator Katie Sickles, golf course Pro Larry Murphy and golf course groundskeeper Adam Conway were present. Black had notified press about the meeting and the Delta County Independent was also present.
If poor communication has been a problem betweeen the town and district, it was in clear evidence at the meeting. Clay had already asked, without reply, specifically what the town is wanting from a new agreement (i.e. payment of money or different watering hours). He then asked Sickles for the reason Cedaredge wants to change the 1992 water-sharing agreement. Sickles replied by sliding a copy of the September interim agreement across the table for him to view.
"What is it we are trying to fix here?" Clay asked.
"I will take your question back to our board," Sickles replied.
Clay probed further, noting that pumphouse plumbing can be redesigned if that is the problem. "The town (golf course) can have water 24 hours a day as long as we can get water 12 hours a day ...Otherwise, I don't see a problem and don't see why we are even here," he said.
"You invited us," Sickles said.
Neither Murphy nor his groundskeeper offered comments. Sickles added only an observation that the district had not posted an official public notice of last Friday's meeting. The meeting ended without any apparent movement toward resolution and no future meetings were scheduled.
Some other issues were brought out at the June 7 session:
• The town is trying to limit the cemetery to as little as 1.5 hours per day for watering, Black said.
• There is a 12-inch pipeline serving Cedaredge Golf Club and Cedaredge Cemetery. It will carry 1,000 gallons per minute, while the cemetery's needs are barely 60-70 gallons per minute, stated Black, a retired civil engineer.
• The town administrator's May 9 accusation that the district is running up the town's legal expenses is not true, Black said. He explained that attorney Clay, as a courtesy, sent document copies to the town's attorney who then, entirely of his own accord, billed the town for reviewing them.
• The district has been working under an agreement with the town since 1992 that has served both entities. The district is not convinced that it even needs the town's proposed new water-sharing agreement, as the district has its own water supply; it is an autonomous governing entity and not a function of the town; and the district owns a portion of the water delivery system that serves both the cemetery and Cedaredge Golf Club.
The Cedaredge Town Board will conduct a special meeting on June 13, following its normal monthly work session. The special meeting will include an executive session to discuss several topics including "cemetery agreements."blog comments powered by Disqus