The Blanding 4th Reservoir looking up to the Blues.  Brett Saunders photo
The Blanding 4th Reservoir looking up to the Blues. Brett Saunders photo
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Monticello hears report about water use, reserves
Sep 25, 2018 | 74 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
by Rhett Sifford Monticello Public Works Director Nathan Langston’s water report was the subject of much interest for a packed house at the September 18 Monticello City Council meeting.  Langston may have dispelled some of the excitement when he stated that the city is better off than it could have been after a summer of extreme drought. Langston said Loyds Lake contains 1,075 acre feet of water, which is 30 percent of its capacity.  The large culinary pond is at 60 percent of capacity, and the small pond is at 20 percent.  Langston said the city usually allows the culinary ponds to deplete this time of year. Then they are filled during the winter. Langston said secondary water conservation efforts over the summer by Monticello residents and businesses produced very positive results.  He said July usage was the lowest one-month total ever in Monticello.  He reported the secondary pond is holding steady at more than 50 percent of capacity. City water collection for the year is 66 percent of average.  Combined culinary and secondary use from January through August is 75 percent of average.  From May through August, secondary water use is 64 percent of average. Langston reports that the Hideout Golf Course is already watering well below average, and a late-August irrigation pipe break further reduced that usage.  He estimates that eight to ten million gallons of water was lost in the 30 minutes it took to stop the leak in the pipeline. Since the pipe break, the golf course has been watered by the city culinary system. Through August, the course used 39.1 million gallons of water, which is 83 percent of the multi-year average and 68 percent of the recommended use for a course of that size. Langston said the 24-inch pipe that burst is owned by San Juan Water Conservancy. It was installed in 1980 and has experienced several breaks in recent years.  In the past, the Water Conservancy District elected to repair the line rather than replace it. Langston said the city typically provides labor and the Water Conservancy District provides equipment for the repairs.  But he explained that a permanent repair is needed or the problem will continue. Following Langston’s report, members of the audience asked the council if the city has plans to increase water collection and storage capacity.  Another concern is whether the city has looked at alternate collection sources. Karla Eberling spoke about the personal pain and struggle of local ranchers and farmers in a drought year and asked if it is justifiable to continue watering the golf course at the current level. Langston said that since he began working for the city, there have been constant efforts to secure more water.  He detailed the renovated collection system, the failed wells, and other projects. Langston explained that Loyds Lake has been full only twice in its 30-year history and that storage capacity isn’t necessarily the problem Monticello faces. Mayor Tim Young said there is a current water study underway by the city engineering firm, Jones and DeMille.  City Manager Doug Wright added that if Utah Governor Gary Herbert declares an emergency, the city would be eligible for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to help with water projects. Wright added that the city is looking at options such as repairing existing Monticello wells and obtaining water from the North and Spring creek drainages.  He said the city is pushing for the Jones and DeMille study to be completed, so the city will be in position to take advantage of any option that becomes available. Young said the city has spent several million dollars on water projects since he became mayor.  He explained that even if the city purchases water rights, actual water is not guaranteed.  He said the process is expensive, and the city’s main priority is to pursue projects that will provide actual water. In a related item of business, the council scheduled the secondary water system shutoff for the first week of October, unless the pond runs dry first.  The city will not supplement the pond for the remainder of the season. In other business, the council approved a zone change for several properties east of Main Street and north of 100 North.  The properties, originally zoned  R-2 Residential, become A-1 Residential/Agricultural. Monticello City Recorder Cindi Holyoak reports that several land owners in the vicinity of the rezoned properties were already using their land for agricultural purposes when it was discovered they were in an R-2 zone. She said the Monticello Planning Commission conducted public hearings on the rezoning application for the properties and recommended that the city rezone the property.  The owners of all the properties in question were present at the hearings and supported the commission recommendation. Wright reports that the San Juan County Commission requested a representative of the city be appointed to serve on the Bears Ears Advisory Committee.  He recommended the city nominate Councilmember Bayley Hedglin for the position, and the council agreed. The council reappointed Troy Butler to the Airport Committee and Steve Young to the Victims of Mill Tailings Exposure Committee.  They appointed Gordon Reeve to fill a vacant seat on the Planning Commission. Several residents offered public comment that many areas around Monticello have been neglected this year.  Some of the concerns included flourishing weeds, dying trees, and illegal trash dumping. Wright explained that due to the drought, there were no weeds in the early part of the summer, but they sprang up when the rains arrived.  He said crews that would usually handle these duties were employed for most of the summer assisting construction of the new bike trails at Loyds Lake and the mill site. Wright said that some of the problem areas have been cleaned, but some still need work.  He added that it’s an area the city will improve on going forward.  Mayor Young encouraged every Monticello resident to do their part and work together to keep the city beautiful.
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A new Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites may be built on the north entrance to Blanding. Developers seek up to $1.25 million to develop “horizontal infrastructure.”   Courtesy photo
A new Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites may be built on the north entrance to Blanding. Developers seek up to $1.25 million to develop “horizontal infrastructure.” Courtesy photo
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Governments making slow progress on CRAs
Sep 25, 2018 | 74 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A new Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites may be built on the north entrance to Blanding. Developers seek up to $1.25 million to develop “horizontal infrastructure.”   Courtesy photo
A new Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites may be built on the north entrance to Blanding. Developers seek up to $1.25 million to develop “horizontal infrastructure.” Courtesy photo
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by Bill Boyle
San Juan Record Editor It may take a while to work out the details, but a new economic development tool may be created for use in San Juan County. A Community Reinvestment Agency (CRA) could allow local business ventures to partner with taxing entities to develop infrastructure. Two projects have already expressed an interest in using the CRA funding mechanism to develop infrastructure for their projects. They include Bluff Dwellings, a 54-unit resort that is under construction on Highway 191 in Cow Canyon. Jared Berrett is developing the project, which would cost approximately $6 million. The second project is a 70-unit lodging property on the north end of Blanding. The project, which may be built as a Marriott Fairfield Inn and Suites, would be located west of Highway 191 across from the Blanding Cemetery. Phil Lyman is developing the project, which would be a $9 million investment. Berrett and Lyman presented information regarding their projects to the San Juan School Board at the July 10 school board meeting. Since a CRA project would require approval from the taxing entities, the school district is taking the lead in developing the criteria for a CRA. The school board discussed the projects at length and started the process of addressing the issues. The board did not make a decision at the meeting and has initiated a long-term process to look at the CRA concepts. “I’m feeling under pressure, and I don’t like it,” said School Board President Steve Black at the July 10 meeting. Over a series of meetings, the school board is developing a series of guiding principles to lead the process. One school official estimated that it may be until December before the school board is ready with a recommendation. One of the challenges faced by the taxing entities is determining what projects are eligible for a CRA. That challenge is compounded in rural areas and smaller economies. The CRA concept has been used in larger areas on the Wasatch Front, in some cases to build sports venues and convention facilities. Box Elder County has used a CRA for projects in industrial parks. The CRA has not been used as often in rural or frontier areas. There are a host of challenges in extending the CRA to smaller areas. The basic concept is that a CRA “loans” funds to an approved project and the loan is repaid through property tax collections over the subsequent years. For Bluff Dwellings, the developers are seeking approximately $458,000 to develop turn lanes into the property from Highway 191. Over the next 20 years, a portion of property taxes from the new entity will be used to pay down the account balance. School board members suggested that one of the challenges with this project is that it is already underway. Jared Berrett explained that he received notice of the need for turn lanes after the project had started. He added that without the turn lanes, his project can get approval to open only 18 of the 54 rooms. Berrett said his project only works if all of the units can be used. “Unless I get 50 plus rooms, it won’t work,” said Berrett, who added that he would “close down, move away, and teach” if he wasn’t able to complete the project. The Blanding project would seek up to $1.25 million for a variety of “horizontal infrastructure” improvements, including roadways, parking, curb and gutter, storm drains, utilities, and landscaping. Lyman explained that the project is still in the developmental stages and a CRA project “changes our ability to get financing for a project like this.” Lyman described the project as a “flagship hotel at the gateway to Blanding.” School board member Lori Maughan asked if one business will have to pay the full share and others will get a break. She suggested that a government subsidy is being paid by the other taxpayers, including competitors. The developers suggested that the projects will pay 100 percent of the infrastructure costs in subsequent years through the property tax payments. The school district guidelines are under development and may include an analysis of the business model, the effectiveness of project leadership, feasibility of the project, and benefits of the project to the community, to the school system, and to future growth and development.
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A new presidency has been named for the Monticello Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  They include (left to right) Reid and Stephanie Chapman, Brenda and Dwight Rawlings, and Diane and Calvin Balch. They begin on November 1.  Staff photo
A new presidency has been named for the Monticello Utah Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They include (left to right) Reid and Stephanie Chapman, Brenda and Dwight Rawlings, and Diane and Calvin Balch. They begin on November 1. Staff photo
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