Parachute town trustees explain sewer/water lines
Parachute’s Mayor John Loschke and the town trustees feel a responsibility not only to the new high school but also to the residents of the town of Parachute. Bearing that in mind, we would like to offer the following comments.
The town of Parachute’s master plan and land use regulations are used as guides for present and future development as protection assuring improvements and safety to the town of Parachute. These were used as our guide for the Garfield County School District 16’s Step I and II applications.
The School Board obtained a state Department of Local Affairs grant for off-site utilities for the new high school. In that grant, a looped water line was part of the off-site utilities. When the school district applied for the Step I land use permit, it was shown there would be a looped water line. The looped water line was dropped in favor of the 2,800-foot, dead-end water line in the district’s Step II land use application. The town denied the water line portion of the application until this could be resolved.
From the beginning, Parachute town engineer Mark Austin stated that the Public Works Improvements Manual does not allow a dead end water line more than 1,000 feet long. Water in a 2,800-foot line could potentially become stagnant. Maintenance costs could be high. Safety and fire prevention could become a problem in the event of fire, such as the potentially destructive one already experienced at the school construction site.
Once the lines are dedicated, only Parachute residents will bear the responsibility of future safety and long-term maintenance costs of these water and sewer lines. Therefore, those of us on the Parachute Board of Trustees felt we must protect the town residents from these possible costs by having a looped water line.
Since the Grand Valley Park Association has already approved the sewer easement, the Trustees feel it necessary and practical to place the water line within the same five-foot easement as the sewer line, saving time and money. The town has only requested easements, not deeded property. This easement would cross over two small corners of the Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District’s property, which it leases from the town of Parachute for $1 a year. These areas would be reclaimed to the original condition immediately after laying the sewer and water lines. Any problems of ground settling will also be repaired.
The town is not asking the Park Association for any above-ground utilities or to deed any portions of their property to the town. The town is only asking for easements for below-ground utilities for water and sewer to serve the school, at which time the town of Parachute would give the Park Association a water and sewer tap. Also, the Park Association’s easement area would be reclaimed immediately.
Organizing this work to be done during the same timeframe would be a savings to taxpayers and would entail no permanent damage to existing facilities for the Grand Valley Park Association or the Park and Recreation District.
Construction of the “north loop” under the freeway and railroad tracks as the school had originally intended was found cost and time prohibitive for the school and the town. As explained above, a dead-end water line would be too unsafe and expensive for the school and the residents of Parachute. Therefore, the “south loop” became the only alternative for a looped water line.
As to costs of the looped water line, the school district has agreed to contribute the state grant money allocated for a looped-water line, and a developer is willing to match that amount to allow the town to construct the needed loop. It has been the trustees’ position that development pay its own way.
All of the town meetings regarding the looped water line have been open to the public. The town of Parachute has made every effort to meet with the various entities involved in securing water and sewer availability to the new Grand Valley High School and will continue to do so.
Many people in the community have served hours on end to complete the school, including the School Board and administration, the town of Parachute administration, Mayor John Loschke and the Board of Trustees, Planning and Zoning Board, Park Association, and Park and Recreation District board. We hope each board’s members will continue working together in solving these issues to the best interest of all entities involved.
Billie Sue Koch
Town of Parachute trustees
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