In less than a year, Star Valley and Payson have gone from enemies to friends. With a new “monumental” agreement on the table, this relationship could be solidified in writing.
At Tuesday’s Star Valley council meeting, Mayor Bill Rappaport proudly announced the two towns have drafted “an agreement to agree.”
Under the arrangement, Star Valley may finally acquire a reliable water source to protect its residents during drought, protect its delicate groundwater supply from extended pumping and possibly allow for fire hydrants along the highway.
While a legally binding intergovernmental agreement has not yet been crafted, Rappaport said this resolution is the starting point for one.
Water and Sewer Commission Chair and Councilor Vern Leis agreed adding an IGA will benefit both towns.
“We need each other,” Leis said. “Our proximity as neighbors, we share practically everything.”
Leis added that Payson’s acquisition of the Tower Well tore the two communities apart.
With this resolution, the two towns can finally work together on water, Leis said.
“This opens the door and changes the spirit between the two towns,” said Town Manager Tim Grier. “It does not have any legal ramification, but it changes the direction we take with Payson.”
If the Payson council approves the resolution in February, Leis expects the two town’s staff to began crafting an IGA that will include several obtainable goals, including:
• Providing an emergency back up water supply for Star Valley using existing Payson water systems.
• Payson selling or gifting several wells located within Star Valley’s boundaries to the town of Star Valley.
• Setting an agreeable limit to withdraws from wells in Star Valley.
Accomplishment of these objectives would allow Star Valley to quickly become a municipal water supplier because it would finally have infrastructure in place. This would give the town access to its share of Blue Ridge water.
“In three months we could have a public water works and within five months we could identity how much Blue Ridge we get,” Leis said.
Leis was quick to point out no financial commitments have been made.
“We know no costs nor can we establish them,” he said of the project.
Most Star Valley councilors think the resolution is a great idea.
“They are out neighbors and if they needed water I wouldn’t mind giving it to them,” said Councilor George Binney.
Although Councilor Gary Coon supported the measure because it would solve a lot of Star Valley’s water concerns, he said he did not understand what Payson was getting out of the deal.
“They told us they want to establish a working relationship,” Rappaport said. “At this point I am taking them at face value.”
Several Star Valley residents stood and thanked the council for passing the resolution.
Also at the meeting, the council tabled a resolution that would have allowed Grier to procure bids for an engineering plan on a crossing at Valley Road until March 2 and approved Bobby Davis and Roberto Sanchez as Water and Sewer Commission alternates.