He thinks Colorado Springs Utilities may have done just that when it approached him and his neighbors to “negotiate” the sale of 50-foot permanent easements across their land to bury a 66-inch water pipeline as part of the $2.3 billion Southern Delivery System project.
So he was well-prepared with questions for CSU’s negotiators when they came to visit to explain their need for his land as they build a 66-mile pipeline from the dam of the Pueblo Reservoir north to Colorado Springs.
They apparently were not prepared to give him or other neighbors answers.
Dwain said they were polite, professional and friendly. Still, they were insulting in their responses, he felt.
He wanted assurances, in writing, about how CSU would handle the dust its construction equipment would generate.
How it would protect his grandhcildren playing in his backyard from equipment and chemicals.
How it would safeguard pets and wildlife.
How it would prevent stormwater from ruining his septic system and flooding his basement.
CSU’s answers were less than satisfying, Dwain said.
“It was ‘My way or no way’ to everything,” he said.
Next-door neighbor Herbert Walsh was angered by utilities’ approach to him.
“They think John Q. Public down here is stupid,” Herbert told me. “We we’re not stupid.”
Maxwell, Walsh and other neighbors decided to stand firm against CSU and refused to take the $2,200 or so they were offered for a permanent easement to bury the pipeline and a temporary, one-year 50-foot easement for construction.
Walsh figures his land is worth much more. And he wants to be compensated for the loss of his property value, which he said is diminished by the easement which prevents him or any future buyer from building a horse barn or shed.
Neighbors say CSU shouldn’t appraise their land as “unimproved” because that implies there is no home, utilities or landscaping.
And they want written assurances about how things will happen during construction and promises of how it will look when they are done.
Here’s an aerial view from Google Earth of the area:
Here you can peruse the Gazette’s archive of stories on SDS.
Read a timeline of the project at this link.
Here’s a link to an interesting engineering story about the project.