Only in Cave Creek – $39 million is better than $89 million

By Linda Bentley | September 17, 2008

‘Wastewater treatment plant’ is fighting words
CAVE CREEK – Monday night’s Call to the Public began with Gerald Kretsch, who said he lives behind the Neary water tank, and stated, “It’s a dump. You’ve basically destroyed our art district – they’re all gone.”

While telling the town to “fix it up” and “clean it up,” Kretsch said the $1.2 million lot was now worth $50,000 with all the junk.

He said, “For a town this size, I think it’s pretty gross mismanagement.”

David Phelps said he had two items he wanted to bring up, one concerned an item from the Aug. 4 consent agenda regarding an easement being provided to the town in exchange for providing sewer service to six lots. He asked what value was placed on providing that service and to what extent service was being provided.

The other was to renew his March 31 request for a public workshop with the Arizona trust land folks regarding the details of the annexation.

Councilwoman Grace Meeth asked to pull an item from the consent agenda, which, upon request of Maricopa County Election Volunteers, would cancel the Nov. 3 council meeting.
Meeth said it would be the sixth month council would be having only one meeting and it was at a time when a lot of business was coming before council, including several general plan amendments.

Town Manager Usama Abujbarah pointed out there are five Mondays in November, which would allow for another meeting in November.

Councilman Thomas McGuire said he was approached by Carefree Councilman David Schwan to conduct a transportation survey of Cave Creek’s citizens to determine what sort of public transportation needs they might have.

McGuire said the survey will be included along with the town’s water bill.

Felicia Terry, project manager with Maricopa County Flood Control District (MCFCD), presented the town’s drainage master plan.

When MCFCD first assessed the area, it determined a large area along Ocotillo Wash was in a Zone A floodplain.

After HDR was retained to do a more detailed study, the area was redelineated as a Zone AE.

According to Terry, that removed 14 homes from being in a 100-year floodplain, leaving only two.

David Phelps spoke during public comment to say he attended one of MCFCD’s public meetings.

Referring to an all-weather bridge crossing presented as an option for School House Road that was 650 feet long and 16 feet high, he asked, “Was this the design people wanted?”
Phelps went on to say everything he heard from those in attendance indicated they wanted “low impact, subtle improvements and culverts.”

He said it was fortunate the town’s planning commission took one look at the bridge and nixed it.

Town Engineer Wayne Anderson got up to clarify why the bridge was presented and said the town asked for them to provide estimates. He also said the town would never build something like that if the cost couldn’t be justified.

Reg Monachino, chair of the Planning and Policy Sub-committee, and member Dan Baxley presented the committee’s recommendation to council for a Drought Preparedness Plan, which Baxley said is mandated by the state.

After some discussion, council determined there were a few items requiring further clarification and voted unanimously to continue the item to a future meeting.

Town Accountant Marian Groeneveld and Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow presented council with an overview of the water and wastewater WIFA loans, the expenditures for each and the status of the projects.

During public comment, Charles Spitzer balked at the $39 million the town has spent to procure the water company and fund improvements, citing, “That’s about $12,000 per customer.”

He said, “The people of this town deserve for you to control the purse strings of this town better.”

That brought Janet Mohr to the podium. After determining there are about 4,200 water customers being served by the town, with calculator in hand, Mohr said, “Forty-two hundred times $20,000, which is how much it costs to drill a well, comes to $84 million. Thirty-nine million is better than $84 million and we needed the water.”

Water Advisory Committee Chair Ralph Mozilo stated, “The only concern I have about delaying the wastewater treatment plant is cost increases,” and asked council to be sensitive to the issue so the town doesn’t end up in the same situation as a previous council.
That brought Phelps, who was serving on council at that time, back up to the podium.
Phelps stated, “We were told by our engineers we could build what we needed and couldn’t, to lay that lie to rest.”

After the meeting, an angry Mozilo walked up to Phelps and said, “Don’t ever call me a liar,” which cued Town Marshal Adam Stein to intervene and prevent the discussion from escalating into something else.