The “Open Space” Ballot Initiative

Mayor Responds With Facts

A letter from a Carefree resident that recently appeared in the Sonoran News has prompted two responses from Town officials that Carefree Unity has been asked to publish.  We believe the responses contain information in the public interest.

This is the second of two posted responses, and was submitted by Carefree Mayor Les Peterson:

Addressing the Facts 

The author of a recent editorial titled “Response to Open Space Ballot Initiative in Carefree” continues a “smear” campaign making categorically false statements and continues to promote a misinformation campaign regarding a well-documented, long anticipated and publicly vetted water infrastructure project that addresses concerns raised by over 1/3 of Carefree’s population. 

I would like to address the facts: 

1. The purpose of the buried fresh water reservoir under construction along Tom Darlington Drive is to provide water capacity and appropriate water pressures to the Carefree residents on the southwest side of Carefree. It has been explained to the author of the previous editorial, as well on the public record, that this underground reservoir will not and cannot provide water to the property located at the northwest corner of Tom Darlington Drive and Carefree Highway. There is existing water infrastructure near this property that will serve any future development of this undeveloped property. Any inference to any nefarious act by the Mayor or any one associated with the Town is categorically false and simply a despicable smear campaign to distort the merits of a well-documented and publicly vetted water improvement project. 

2. Over the past two Mayoral and Town Council elections, the water consolidation project was the number 1 issue within the Carefree community. Those candidates that were elected each represented to the citizens of Carefree that they will get the project done. Each step of the way this Council has maintained that promise. That is called representative and effective government. 

3. The author of the editorial suggests that the Town should have waited for a vote on the eminent domain initiative (deceptively called “open space” initiative) before proceeding with construction of the water reservoir. Once again, the water consolidation project has been in the public light for over 5 years and 2 Mayoral and Council elections. This just did not happen overnight. One third of Carefree’s population have waited patiently for this long awaited and publicly vetted water improvement project. The Water Company and their professional engineering team have gone through extraordinary efforts to appropriately locate the tank in the most efficient and effective location, to bury this tank and restore the desert over top of the reservoir. The pictures on the Town’s website illustrate this restoration project. 

Furthermore, surrounding communities of Cave Creek, Phoenix and Scottsdale are all working on similar water improvement projects. It is interesting to note that each of these communities are building fresh water reservoirs, along major arterial roads and nearby residential properties. The difference is that the reservoir under construction in Carefree is significantly smaller, buried and revegetated. Carefree is taking every effort to do this right and mitigate any impacts. 

The common thread between each of these aforementioned communities is their desire to take advantage of generational low interest rates. This helps to ensure minimal impacts in water rates. As Carefree’s nationally recognized rate expert, Wildan, presented at previous public Carefree Water Company Board meetings, Carefree’s past annual rate increases of 4% will be maintained and is well below the national annual water rate increase of 6% per year. Yes, any infrastructure investment has financial implications but Carefree elected leaders ensured that a conservative financial plan was put in place that had minimal impact on the community. 

In summary, as a community, there are always different perspectives on issues. Indeed, there are varying perspectives on any infrastructure improvements as some see benefits while others see the expense side of the ledger. In the case of the water consolidation project, this project was extensively publicly vetted and our elected representatives are delivering on their promises. Those promises include a solid financial plan supported by historically low interest rates, an industry leading construction team to deliver on a quality project and, finally, ensuring all Carefree residents having representation over our most precious resource – water. 

Les Peterson 

Carefree Mayor 

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