Southern Delivery System update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

[Colorado Springs City Council] voted 7-1 to proceed with eminent domain, believing Utilities staff has exhausted all other avenues to solve the problem. Even at that, Mayor Lionel Rivera questioned Project Director John Fredell after it was revealed that Colorado Springs could spend up to $5,000 to help settle disputes of easement payments as low as $1,550. “There has to be flexibility in the real estate manual,” Rivera said. “You, the project director, can use your discretion.”

Fredell earlier explained that 120 of 133 properties or easements in Pueblo West are under contract, with new settlements on Monday with 2 of the 15 holdouts. All of the remaining properties are for easements valued at $1,550-$5,000. While Utilities will continue to work with the remaining 13, Fredell said they appear to have reached a dead end. There has already been one condemnation filed, approved at a meeting last October. “I believe we’ve reached a point where we cannot agree on compensation with the remaining properties,” Fredell said.

More coverage of the city council meeting, and the opposition to SDS, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Councilman Tom Gallagher, who has been at odds with the rest of council for years over SDS, took the opportunity to call SDS, “The greatest boondoggle that’s ever been conceived by this community.” At one point Gallagher, who is running for mayor in the April election, called SDS Project Director John Fredell to task for not including options to locate the pipeline in a less disruptive manner during the Bureau of Reclamation’s Environmental Impact Statement that evaluated the project. Fredell started to defend the EIS process, which determined the ultimate route of the pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs, when Gallagher cut him off. “This is a case of you deciding where you wanted it to go,” Gallagher said.

Dwain Maxwell, a property owner in Pueblo West whose Kirkwood Drive property is likely to be condemned for an SDS easement, goaded council by saying they were in a hurry to wrap up land deals quickly because the makeup of the council could change dramatically in the April elections. There are nine candidates for a new position of strong mayor and 22 candidates for seven open council seats. “I know you’re trying to get this done before the first of April,” Maxwell said…

[Sean Paige] later said Colorado Springs has gone out of its way to make accommodations on all parts of SDS. The first phase of the project will cost $880 million, including more than $133 million in concessions during the Pueblo County 1041 process. Scheduled for completion in 2016, the project will cost ratepayers $2.3 billion over the next 40 years in financing.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

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