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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Many Mesa del residents oppose adjacent plant

By Jim Keyworth
Gazette Blog Editor

Contrary to implications in the local newspaper, the WTP2 site for Payson's Blue Ridge Reservoir (C.C. Cragin) water treatment plant is not preferred by everyone.  Most residents of Mesa del Caballo, who very much want the treatment plant located near their community, do not favor the WTP2 site which directly adjoins the community.

The site across Houston Mesa Road near Shoofly Ruins, WTP1, is already cleared, and many residents are expressing this site as their preference in response to the draft environmental assessment performed by the Forest Service.  In fact, the Mesa del Caballo Community Center/El Caballo Club, which represents over 80 Mesa del households, last week adopted a position in favor of the Shoofly location and so notified the Forest Service.

The WTP2 site would butt up against 8-10 homes along Mesa del's eastern boundary, effectively blocking the views of those homeowners.  It would also require cutting down many trees to clear the site.  Homeowners have also expressed concerns about noise pollution emanating from the plant.

The text of President Jim Keyworth's comments to the Forest Service:

"As president of the Mesa del Caballo Community Center/El Caballo Club, a civic organization with over 80 Mesa del Caballo households as members, I would like to express our displeasure with WTP2, the water treatment plant site that adjoins our community. This site was not even mentioned at the public scoping meeting held at Julia Randall Elementary, and introducing it as the favorite at this late date seems unfair. We prefer the Shoofly site, WTP1, which is already cleared and will not have a negative impact on our community, especially those households directly behind WTP2. It doesn't make sense to impact the lifestyle and property values of our community when a much preferable site right across Houston Mesa Rd. is available."

Mesa del Caballo, located 1.8 miles northeast of Payson off Houston Mesa Road, is the largest community along the Blue Ridge pipeline route.  The community has approximately 400 homes and 375 water hookups serviced by Brooke Utilities.

The Mesa del Caballo Water Committee, sponsored by the Community Center/El Caballo Club, is working closely with Brooke Utilities on a number of water issues, including the Blue Ridge/Cragin project.

The Blue Ridge/Cragin pipeline, when completed in 2013 or 2014, will deliver up to 4.5 million gallons (3,000 acre feet) per year to Payson.  Mesa del and other northern Gila County communities are entitled to 500 acre feet.

The deadline for public comments on the Environmental Assessment is March 4, 2011.  For additional information, contact Larry Hettinger at the Payson Ranger District, 928-474-7948.

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