April 18 marks open space acquisition kick-off event

By Linda Bentley | March 25, 2009

Shovel-ready arsenic remediation project gets in line for stimulus funds

open landThe town, in partnership with Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department and the Desert Foothills Land Trust, is holding an open space acquisition kick-off event on April 18 at Cave Creek Regional Park to raise funds to purchase land designated as open space in the annexation area. Photo by Linda Bentley

CAVE CREEK – During Tuesday’s Call to the Public, Korina Riggin jokingly said the mayor had volunteered her services while announcing the town’s website (www.CaveCreek.org) now has a section for art galleries, outdoor recreation, history and more under the “Visitors” tab.

Riggin said she has added over 900 events from now through September under the Calendar & Events sections and asked council to keep her posted of any events in town so she can add them to the website.

Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the application for a $285,000 Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Loan from the Water Infrastructure Authority of Arizona (WIFA ).

Ralph Mozilo, as chair of the Water Advisory Committee, said the committee had concerns about taking on an additional $285,000 in debt. However, because WIFA looks at the Desert Hills Water service area, which, by itself is profitable, it qualifies for a revolving fund loan that can be paid back through water revenues. Mozilo said the committee recommended approval with caution.

Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow stated the funds would be used to install infrastructure to allow the blending of CAP water with the well water in the Desert Hills service area, which, at 13 ppb, does not meet current arsenic requirements. In October 2001, the EPA lowered the allowable arsenic content in drinking water systems from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb by Jan. 23, 2006.

According to Marlow, the town shuts down some of the wells during the winter months. However, she said that would create supply shortfalls during the summer months.

Mozilo said, “Step one is to see if we can obtain stimulus funds for a loan to put in infrastructure allowing to blend CAP with well water to reduce arsenic, a less expensive alternative to arsenic removal.”

Marlow said until the town submits an application to WIFA, they won’t know what they might qualify for in the way of funding.

Since the town previously submitted its “shovel ready” infrastructure projects for stimulus funding through Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), Marlow said the town might qualify for a partial grant, a zero interest loan or possibly a grant that does not need to be repaid. However, she said, the town must first submit an application to WIFA for review.
The motion passed unanimously as did the resolution approving the official canvass of the March 10 Primary Election results.

Lopez and Councilwoman Grace Meeth requested the 2007 Infrastructure Improvement Plan (IIP) and process of approval be placed on the agenda.

Planning Director Ian Cordwell said the IIP was initially brought forward as the town was revisiting development fees, but during the current economy staff didn’t believe the town should move forward with the plan.

Meeth confirmed the IIP was never adopted by council and asked if the town wasn’t required to have a capital improvement plan in place.

Cordwell responded, “No.”

Meeth’s motion to direct staff to bring the plan back before council failed by a vote of 3-4 with Meeth, Lopez and Brennan voting yes.

Council also unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance amending the town code regarding placing items on an agenda, allowing the mayor, or the town clerk upon the written request of one member of the town council, to place an item on the agenda.

Francia explained the ordinance was written quite some time ago to prevent the mayor from blocking things from getting on the agenda and said, “The mayor has no veto power.”

The mayor announced April 18 will be the open space kick-off event to raise money for the purchase of the 4,000+ acres of open space in the annexation area. Tickets are available at town hall for $25.

The event will be held from 2 – 6 p.m. at the Cave Creek Regional Park Nature Center at 37019 N. Lava Lane (1 mile north of Carefree Highway and 32nd Street).

Francia said he has invited KNIX Radio to speak at council about its upcoming ultimate cowboy and cowgirl promotion.