Strawberry Hollow Well owner Loren Peterson is upset with the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board and its attorney David Davis and he’s not holding back his feelings.
Peterson delivered a terse statement to the board and attorney David Davis during an Aug. 21 meeting in which he said Davis was trying to stall an agreement the board had with Peterson to purchase the well for $450,000.
“Now your attorney wants to renegotiate the deal, he will not stop asking for more changes to the contract,” Peterson said.
The well owner described the changes Davis is asking for as substantive and ones that could be potentially deal breakers.
Peterson said he had an agreement with the board that if he spent money to improve the well, which he said was about $90,000, and the board did not buy it, he would be reimbursed.
He accused Davis of trying to take that clause out of the contract.
Davis was given an opportunity to respond, but did not clarify what his contract recommendations were to the board.
Peterson said he and the board had agreed on the details of the purchase 11 days earlier and he considered it a done deal, but now Davis was arguing “everything is open to negotiations again,” including the reimbursement for well improvements.
Peterson said Davis never raised the reimbursement issue until after the purchase agreement was made and by following Davis’ advice, board members were were going back on their word.
Peterson also said that reimbursing him for the improvement costs was no different than the board spending more than $120,000 on improvements at the Milk Ranch Well, which the board also has plans to purchase.
The $450,000 purchase price for the Strawberry Hollow Well has been a controversial issue in Pine and Strawberry mostly because the well was appraised for $163,000 to $210,000.
Pine resident Sam Schwalm has been critical of the decision to purchase the Strawberry Hollow Well and the Milk Ranch Well for prices above the appraised value.
The Milk Ranch Well has not yet been appraised, but some contend its appraisal will be about the same as that for the Strawberry Hollow Well.
Schwalm has also criticized the board for spending $120,000 on the Milk Ranch Well, which is owned by Ray Pugel and Robert Randall.
Schwalm contends the board should not be spending taxpayer money on improving the wells of private citizens.
Regarding the Strawberry Hollow purchase, a board member said Peterson’s allegations would soon become a “moot point” because members would approach the bank this week to apply for the money to complete the purchase.
Board President Gary Lovetro also said district officials would meet in midweek at the Milk Ranch Well site to evaluate the quality of water being produced there.