An Open Letter To Councilman Robert Henley

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In Friday's Roundup, you tried to tell us why 1,900 Payson citizens who signed petitions against bringing water from Star Valley to develop Payson properties are wrong.

What is right about Payson growing by taking water from its neighbors? What is right about paying $750,000 to assist a developer who is taking water from a community of 2,500 people four miles down the road?

It may be legal to buy land and sell the water under it, but it's not moral. This idea of stealing water from an established community does not pass muster.

Whether through ignorance or intent, you are acting as a shill for Michael Horton. You are writing as though he is a local businessman with a small company, wanting only to do right for the community. This is not true.

Terra Capital is a company headquartered in Reno, Nev. It has invested a lot of money to buy land and dig wells. And you and a majority of the council have voted to help them.

You say that construction, tourism and its citizens drive Payson's economy. Then you tell us that construction accounts for 18.2 percent of the taxes collected, and try to make it into a big deal.

By my math, the town's citizens and tourists pay nearly 82 percent of the taxes collected.

It would seem that stimulating tourism and making the town more attractive might better serve Payson's citizens. A small town focused on its current residents would mean less construction, but it would also mean less pollution, more trees and green spaces, less traffic and fewer municipal employees.

Payson is a major stopping point for Phoenicians, and as the Valley grows, tourism will increase -- enough to offset a decrease in construction taxes from 18 percent to around 8 percent. Increased tourism is a constant.

We already have parks, a library and basic street maintenance. Public safety costs will stay the same or decrease if the community stays the same size.

If Payson is presently solvent, then wait five to 10 years for Blue Ridge water. Take the time to look into the minds and hearts of residents, and develop new plans for less growth.

Payson doesn't need to steal its neighbors' water. Payson doesn't need more development, more traffic, more people and more pollution.

The requirement for developers to "bring their own water" to Payson is a mistake. Yes, Mr. Henley, Payson is at a crossroads. The question is: where do you stand?

From what I have seen, you are concerned about the town's future, and you can help lead the town down the right road. Help curb the ambitions of those who would pit one community against the other for personal gain. Their motives are sincere, but out of sync with communities that value quality of life.

Derek Pratt, Star Valley

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