VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 10   |   MARCH 9 – 15, 2011


Council approves IGA for Cave Creek Wash hazard reduction project

Morning Star Road paving project moves forward with federal funds

CAVE CREEK – Call to the Public brought Bob Moore to the podium during the March 7 council meeting to first thank the town for cleaning up the debris on Galloway Drive and then to complain about the music from the Hideaway, which he said could be heard from every home on Stevens Drive.

According to Moore, one homeowner was finally able to sell his house after two years, with four other homes on Stevens Drive currently up for sale.

With Councilman Ralph Mozilo absent, council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the town to enter into an intergovermental agreement (IGA) with Maricopa County Flood Control District for a small projects grant that would pay up to $250,000, for the Cave Creek flood hazard reduction project, also known as the Cave Creek Wash Bank Revetment Special Assessment Project #3.

wayne adnersonTown Engineer Wayne Anderson (pictured, right) provided council with a brief overview of the January 2010 flood event in Cave Creek Wash that ran at 17,000 CFS and destroyed part of Morton and Janice Copenhaver’s home when the wash eroded away approximately 80 feet of their property and placed seven other properties in jeopardy as the wash changed course.

A USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) grant would pay up to 75 percent of the project with the balance of the estimated $1.4 million to be paid by the eight affected homeowners.

Anderson reminded council they approved the design work to be engineered in July 2010 and said after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers became involved in the review, cost estimates doubled, with the project now estimated to cost $2.5 million.

And, the increase means significant cost increases to the homeowners as well.

Because the town is only facilitating the project through an IGA on behalf of the homeowners, as Maricopa County would not agree to enter into eight separate agreements with the homeowners, the property owners would become part of an assessment district with liens against their property.

Responding to Councilman Adam Trenk’s query about the town’s financial obligations if NRCS doesn’t come up with the funds and the homeowners backed out, Anderson said, “None.”

Councilman Dick Esser asked what the timeline was.

Anderson said there was a waiting list for money to come through from the federal government.

Vice Mayor Ernie Bunch confirmed the project was addressing a 25-year flood event. He asked what would happen if there is a 50-year flood event that washes the $2.5 million worth of work away and if there was any way the town would be left on the hook.

town attorney marlene pontrelliTown Attorney Marlene Pontrelli (pictured, right) responded, “I wish we could say 100 percent but the agreements have been structured to limit the town’s liability."

Trenk said, “The issue is if the value of the property is not as much as the homeowner’s share.”

Anderson said the homeowners’ share would be approximately $50,000 to $52,000 each.
Trenk conceded each of the homes is worth at least that.

While Anderson said the $2.5 million was a conservative high-end estimate and hoped the project would come in at much less, they are also requesting additional funds from NRCS.

Anderson told council the 1993 flood was bigger and lasted longer than the January 2010 event but didn’t cause this kind of damage. He also said no one yet has been able to come up with an explanation as to why.

Councilman Steve LaMar moved to approve the IGA and stated it was a great service by the town to facilitate the project. Councilman Jim Bruce, who seconded the motion, concurred and said there was minimal risk to the town.

Bunch noted how destructive the power of water can be and said, “It could be a lot worse if we didn’t do anything.”

Although he voted in favor of the motion, Trenk said he was doing so with reservations as it was something flood insurance would otherwise cover.

Council also voted unanimously to enter into an IGA with the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to utilize federal CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement) funds to pave Morning Star Road.

According to Anderson, Morning Star is the longest stretch of unpaved road with significant use in Cave Creek.

Although the paving project had been planned for some time, Anderson said federal grant money that was to become available through ADOT was placed on the back burner with stimulus projects becoming a priority.

As a follow up, council voted unanimously to approve the award of contract to YS Mantri and Associates for design and project management of the paving project.

According to Anderson, YS Mantri, which the town has worked with before and has environmental clearance with ADOT, has reasonable costs for those services.


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