With the Star Valley-Payson relationship still in transition, it may take awhile before the two towns tackle controversial issues, like water. Nevertheless, Star Valley Mayor Bill Rappaport said he is excited to see the towns are beginning to communicate.
And with election packets hot off the printers Thursday, Rappaport said he plans to pick up one as soon as possible in the hopes to continue as mayor so he can build this critical partnership.
Rappaport, who took over after former mayor Chuck Heron resigned in March, said the council has so many good things going forward now that he could not fathom not running.
“The relationship between the two towns is getting better,” he said. “Since I became mayor we are talking to each other and establishing a relationship.”
Rappaport said fostering a relationship with Payson is crucial because Star Valley “cannot survive without them.”
Payson offers schools, shopping and restaurants that Star Valley residents depend on, he said.
Payson may also hold the key to solving one of Star Valley’s biggest needs — water.
Payson is in the final stages of securing the Blue Ridge Reservoir pipeline, which will flow through through the Rim Country in 2015 and deliver some 3,000 acre-feet of water annually.
Besides providing Payson with water, the pipeline could deliver up to 500 acre-feet of water to outlying communities like Star Valley and Mesa del Caballo.
While this would bring welcome relief to a community that could see its water table drained dry in a drought, Rappaport said that even if Star Valley got water, it would have no way to deliver it because most of the town is on wells.
Star Valley faces this same problem with sewer. While most residents rely on aging septic systems, only a handful are hooked up to a sewer system.
These septic systems could become a problem in the future if they fail and percolate waste into the town’s water table.
It would cost at least $70 million in infrastructure to connect the town to one system, Rappaport said.
“So cost is prohibitive.”
Asked what the town could do about sewer, Rappaport said it has two options. The first is to go after a private/public partnership or get help from the federal government.
Without a sewer system, the town’s growth is limited, especially on the commercial front where restaurants and stores would require a reliable and adequate sewage service.
“I don’t think we are going to change much in the next 10 years,” he said pointing to the general plan draft, which was recently completed.
In it, the town plans to keep commercial growth limited to where it currently exists, in the center of town.
Even if they did want growth, the town cannot approve many projects due to sewer concerns, he said. However, most people moved to the area to get away from major development.
“It is the reason I moved out here,” he said.
Besides looking at waste and water, the council is working on improving the town’s streets. Recently, the council approved a major street paving program that would asphalt a dozen or more streets by the end of the year.
Rappaport said he would like to continue the paving program next year by paving private streets.
Besides the mayor’s seat, those of vice mayor Del Newland and councilors Stephanie Whetten and Vern Leis are up for contention in the March 2010 election.
Whetten said she has made no decision if she will run and an e-mail to Newland was not returned.
Stephanie Jones, Star Valley town clerk, said only Rappaport and Leis had taken out election packets as of Monday.
The all-mail primary election sis March 9, with the general election on May 18.
If you are interested in running, pick up a nomination form at town hall, 3632 E. Highway 260. Candidates must return nomination forms by 5 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 9 to town hall.