Grudge match is not about the building

Following my letter of Sept. 23, several people have asked a good question. Why did I suggest that Edgewood build a new Community Center on town-owned land when the existing Community Center is underutilized and the old administrative building is sitting vacant? I was reminded that Edgewood residents have access to quite a few activities already. And, we enjoy access to a wealth of both public and private venues. However, the options of refurbishment versus new construction have been made irrelevant by the latest news out of Edgewood Town Hall.

It appears that Commissioner Audrey Jaramillo’s not-so-subtle hints at an impending Town of Edgewood v. Moriarty-Edgewood School District grudge match weren’t really about the fate of a worn-out building.

Is it a coincidence that the Town issued, but later withdrew, a Notice of Public hearing for October 11 which stated intent to invoke Town of Edgewood Zoning Ordinance 2019-03; Wellhead Protection Zone for two wells? One of those wells just happens to be located on the MESD land at Dinkle Road and NM 344.

At it’s October 4 special meeting held at Legacy Church, the Commission expressed reluctance to answer questions about whether or not it had conducted a cost/benefit analysis regarding the south building. The water issue was hurried over even more quickly. Judging from some of the comments, I believe there are two motives in play; the new town government is desperate to acquire water rights, and they are exploiting residual anger at MESD over the closure of Edgewood Elementary in 2014. There is still a lot of sentiment in favor of Edgewood splitting off and forming its own district.

The obstacles to forming a separate district will be formidable, and Edgewood took a large step back from that goal when it vetoed the efforts of the previous town government to buy back the old Edgewood Water Company (now Epcor) from the City of Edmonton. Re-establishing local control over our water supply will be necessary in order to foster economic development on a scale needed to build a tax base capable of sustaining a separate school district. It cannot be said too often that a town which does not have some measure of local control over its water supply cannot expect to govern its own affairs nor can it have a meaningful say in its development. The well on MESD’s Section 16 parcel is not sufficient to meet that goal. Will the town government succeed in taking it away from MESD, and if they succeed in doing so what happens then?

Meanwhile, under new Planning Manager Brad Hill, the town will be revising the zoning ordinance. He will be working with a new P&Z which has not yet received basic training in procedures and land use law. Anyone who holds water rights in Edgewood or within its extra-territorial jurisdiction should keep a close eye on proposed changes to the ordinance. Unfortunately, following this latest election, Edgewood has reverted to its pre-2002 configuration, where then as now, there is no meaningful discussion of issues taking place during meetings. Despite assurances of more transparency, when information is made available, it is apt to appear, disappear, and then reappear somewhere else without notice. There is an old saying that in order to understand what’s happening you must follow the money. In arid lands, money follows the water.

Janelle Turner

Former Secretary and Vice Chair

Edgewood Planning & Zoning