Something stinks in Parachute
Something smells in the town of Parachute. The controversy over placement of sewer and water lines to service the already-under-construction new high school reeks.
The Grand Valley Park Association, along with the Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District, is getting the blame for holding up construction on the new high school and costing the taxpayers more money because they won’t roll over and play dead for the town of Parachute.
The park association is expected to deed a piece of their private property to the town for above- and below-ground utilities, which can even include a fence and possibly a road and yet receive little in return but abuse and threats of condemnation and/or lawsuit if they don’t give the town what they want. We think this stinks!
The G.V. Park Association is a nonprofit organization which owns a six-acre piece of ground on which they have a rodeo arena. Their primary purpose is to host Grand Valley Days and put on the rodeos at that celebration. They do not receive any tax dollars. They rely on donations and the revenue received from Grand Valley Days. Some years they make money, and some years they lose. Any profit is put right back into improving the facilities, which in turn benefit the citizens of the Grand Valley area.
To my knowledge, the park association has no interest in future development of their property for any use other than as a rodeo arena. Their property was deeded to them in trust for perpetuity, and they are dedicated to maintaining that trust.
The park association was told early on in the discussion over off-site utilities that the easement was for sewer only and that the water line would go down South Frontage Road and that if we would just agree to let them go through the property, we could write the easement any way the park association wanted it.
Now we are being told that the town will accept nothing less than a full utility easement and that the master plan for the town says it has to go through the piece of property now developed into ballfields, soccer fields and a rodeo arena.
If the master plan is the Bible, why has it not been followed at other times? It appears to me that the town follows the plan when it is to the town’s advantage to do so.
Certainly, it is to the town’s advantage to get the taxpayers in the entire school district and recreation district to pay for improvements to the town’s infrastructure. (The many paying for the few). Future developers will also benefit financially at the taxpayer’s expense.
The Parachute/Battlement Mesa Park and Recreation District, a special district supported by our tax dollars, has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and grant monies to develop their ballfields and park areas, and they, too, are being accused of holding up construction and taking away from the kids because they want answers as to what other alternatives are available besides the destruction of their facilities and ensuing waste of taxpayer money to restore them to their original state.
The town engineer, Mark Austin, admits that there will be substantial infiltration into the sewer system by putting it through the irrigated ballfields, etc., and that this is not an ideal situation but that it is what the master plan calls for, so he hasn’t looked at other alternatives.
Time and time again the park and rec district and the park association have asked for information, costs, etc., and have yet to receive anything but evasive answers, vague promises and threats.
Last year the public was told that it was absolutely cheaper to build the new high school in Parachute because the water and sewer would be cheaper and that overall construction costs would be less. John Loschke, mayor of Parachute and school board member at the time, said the town would cooperate in every way in order to get the school built in Parachute.
Well, it is now time for the town to put their money where their mouth is and quit trying to make everyone else pay the price. School district taxpayers are footing the bill for improvements to South Frontage Road in Parachute, including the pedestrian walkway, both of which belong to the town of Parachute, and yet the school district taxpayers will have to provide and pay for snow removal forever on the pedestrian walkway. How special is this? Seems like just another way to get everyone else to pay for town amenities.
We are repelled, disgusted and frustrated by the entire situation. We are in favor of a new high school, but we don’t want to see other entities damaged in the process. Nor do we want to see taxpayer dollars being wasted.
From our vantage point, it seems that the town of Parachute is holding everyone hostage. They got what they wanted, which was the school, and now they want everyone else to pay the price. Construction has begun, and it’s too late to change locations, so they believe they have us over a barrel, and perhaps they do.
We think it’s time for the town to do a little compromising. They wanted the new school so badly because of sentimental and emotional reasons, evidently. Certainly there is no tax advantage to having the school in town as the school doesn’t pay taxes.
Perhaps they want the school district and recreation district taxpayers to foot the bill for future town development? Or perhaps there is already a developer out there just waiting to reap the benefits? The town has already admitted to that, what else is there that they haven’t told us?
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