Editorial: Time for unity
March 8, 2013
We hope Shadow Mountain residents support an effort to create a special improvement district that would fund the replacement of water and sewer lines on individual homeowners’ properties.
It's encouraging to see major improvements on the horizon for Shadow Mountain, a subdivision on the outskirts of Craig that for too long has suffered with deteriorating infrastructure while hanging in an awkward balance of governmental jurisdiction.
That said, there still are plenty of wrinkles to be ironed out before work can begin in the mobile home neighborhood originally built in the 1970s as a temporary home for workers constructing the Craig power plant.
Shadow Mountain is outside of city limits and therefore hasn't necessarily been maintained to city standards throughout the decades. For that matter, it was never built to city codes. The neighborhood is plagued by poor street conditions, buckled sidewalks and water and sewer lines that need to be replaced. Although Shadow Mountain is under the purview of Moffat County government, its water and sewer services are provided by the city of Craig.
The city and the county have talked for years about how to best handle neighborhood improvements, and who would be responsible for what. And while we maintain that it's long past time an agreement is reached for the long-term oversight of Shadow Mountain, we're pleased that county and city officials are working toward accomplishing capital projects in the near-term.
This week, the county hired a contract attorney to help it with the potential establishment of a special improvement district that, when formed, could secure a loan to cover the cost of homeowner water and sewer line replacements. The city has agreed to upgrade its water and sewer mains, but homeowners would be responsible for replacing the lines that extend from their homes out to the mains. The estimated cost for the line replacement is about $4,000 per home, or about $1.3 million for the entire subdivision.
The city and the county plan to partner on a total of $4.5 million in Shadow Mountain improvements, including the water and sewer main replacements as well as replacing roads, curbs, gutters and potentially sidewalks. The county has budgeted $2.5 million for the work, with the city expected to pick up the remaining $2 million, of which it has committed $1 million from its water and sewer enterprise fund. But getting going on the project depends on two things: first, the city being granted a $1 million Department of Local Affairs grant to cover the remaining tab; and second, a funding mechanism being established to pay up-front for individual homeowners' water sewer line replacements.
That's where the special improvement district comes in, but it's not yet clear whether Shadow Mountain residents are on board with having an estimated $10 to $15 fee tagged onto their monthly water bill during the next 20 years to pay for the improvements on their properties. It's likely that homeowners who have replaced their sewer and water lines since the subdivision was first built would be exempt from the requirement.
Residents ultimately will have the final say, and we hope the folks who call Shadow Mountain home band together to join the much-needed infrastructure project that should result in a significant upgrade in their quality of life on the west side of Craig. The next step will be getting the city and county to agree on long-term maintenance and capital improvements for the neighborhood.