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Northlands moving closer

by Brian Orr

WALSENBURG- Representatives of the Northlands property owners and members of the Walsenburg City Council met on Monday evening, Feb. 25 to introduce new members of the Council to the Northlands group, and to bring everyone up to speed on where matters are since the death of Walsenburg’s attorney Jim Windholtz in January.

    Tom Cave and Bill Shepard took point on explaining the Northlands petition to create a Northlands General Improvement District (GID), an overseeing and managing body, which would issue $3 million in bonds to build a new sewer line linking to the sewage treatment plant for both Walsenburg and Northlands.  It is estimated it would take the Northlands GID 10 or more years to pay off the bond, and then turn the sewer line over to the City of Walsenburg.  All management and upkeep of the system would be up to the  Northlands GID, and Northlands would be a neighborhood of Walsenburg.  The Walsenbu­rg City Council would be the Board of Directors for the GID, but the GID would be a separate entity.

    There were three points in particular Cave wanted to discuss: the warranty on the sewage system, the potential of running a gas line in alongside the sewer and water lines, and the $10,000 bond on the project the GID property owners might have to put up to start the project.

    As Cave explained, any warranty on the sewage plant and lines would be moot, as the GID would be the owners of the system, and thus obligated to maintain and repair the system until the bond was paid off at some future date.  It would then be turned to over the City. The best warranty Walsenburg could hope for would be two years.  The GID would pay off the bond from tap fees and service fees on the system, with an eye towards business and residential growth speeding that process up.

    In the second draft of the annexation petition, there is wording about adding a gas line to the system, but as Shepard pointed out, the GID will be stretched to put in the water and sewer lines under the $3 million budget.  It was agreed perhaps the best solution would be to bring gas lines up to the district boundary for some future tie-in to the City gas system.

    The third point was, as Cave described it, “An emotional one.”  The property owners of the proposed GID felt “very very strongly” that the initial $10,000 bond should be waived.  Mayor Edi Sheldon could make no promises that the Board would go along with that, but with four councilpeople in attendance and agreeable, it looked probable.

    Overall, everyone in attendance were in agreement that the Northlands annexation should move forward, that it was a “win-win” situation.  “The Council is in general very much in favor of this,” concluded City Administrator Eric Pearson.