First, allow me to thank the five elected directors of the board of the Pueblo West Metropolitan District (PWMD).
These citizens invest many hours per week preparing, reading, assessing, and meeting on our community’s behalf.
While I am grateful to the directors for their service, I must address an issue which recently arose and for which I believe some unnecessary drama and posturing occurred.
Last month, officials from School District 70 attended a Pueblo West Metropolitan board meeting.
It was to be a procedural meeting for the purpose of obtaining a waiver regarding a requirement that water for fire suppression be on a line separate from drinking (potable) water for the new addition at Sierra Vista Elementary School in Pueblo West.
This requirement exists because water in a fire suppression line, if not regularly purged, may become stagnant and could impair its potability.
However, D70’s plan, which was approved by state of Colorado authorities, was to install back flow check valves to prevent stagnant water from entering the potable water source.
The Pueblo West Metropolitan District Board of Directors did not want to assume any liability in the event the check valves failed and children suffered some illness as a result.
Disapproving the waiver was within the rights of the Metro District.
However, one director indignantly accused D-70 of trying to avoid paying the district another $58,000 tap fee, while possibly jeopardizing the well-being of students.
This is a complete distortion of the facts.
There is no requirement to pay an additional tap fee.
This would be akin to requiring a homeowner to pay another tap fee merely because they added another room onto their house.
This was confirmed by PWMD Director of Water/Utilities.
In order to abate the issue, D-70 said they would simply tap on to the potable water supply currently in use by the school and avoid the fire suppression line in its entirety.
This will cost an additional $23,000.
Not in the mind of one of the PWMD Directors who continued to assert the necessity of another tap fee even after PWMD staff assured him that existing rules and regulations did not require such action.
It is disturbing that this “poke” in the chest of a local partner, the school district, is in spite of their neighborly, and mutually beneficial efforts vis a’ vis the PWMD Parks Department.
D-70 and the Pueblo West Parks Department have partnered over the years for grants (aggregate total receipts of approximately $900,000), trails, and the joint use of athletic facilities for the benefit of the entire Pueblo West community (note: D-70 serves the entire county outside of the city limits which includes the communities of Rye, Colorado City and the Mesa area.)
An examination of expenditures made in Pueblo West by D-70 over the past few years, which are amenities available to all residents of Pueblo West, exceeds $9 million.
In addition, the impending completion of the $8 million auditorium at Pueblo West High School will be another community gem suitable for diverse Pueblo West events.
What should have been a routine administrative action turned into populist grandstanding.
Pueblo West is one part of a larger community — our mutual economic fates are tied together.
The PWMD should strive to build consensus and goodwill with our local partners, rather than creating unnecessary controversy and drama.
Sean P. McCarthy
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