For purposes of this editorial, I will introduce a new acronym, SWIPE. (Surface Water Improvement Project Exposed) I will also advance a logical theory that SWIPE is completely unnecessary in the first place, and that the city utilized subterfuge (conceal, escape, or evade) as a primary underlying factor to launch this lavish scheme at an astronomical cost to the "average Joe" in Bend. High water costs will also drive business away to places like Prineville.
As an opposition leader to the city's boondoggle at Juniper Ridge for the past decade, I understand how the city operates "behind closed doors" to pursue private Council agendas that defy public interests. For example, citizens rejected BAT on multiple ballots, but the city forged ahead anyway utilizing funds from the general fund that could have been dedicated to public safety.
It is highly probable that the City contrived SWIPE, at least in part, to serve a set of dubious objectives that have not been made public.
First, they have long coveted a massive water transfer station to serve Juniper Ridge despite a decade of futility, frustration, and failure of that project to achieve any stated objectives including zero new jobs. We don't need more water for a development that cannot attract new tenants.
Secondly, the city bungled condemnation of Juniper Water Utility resulting in a $9.6 million judgment and fees against taxpayers. The project will also require millions for future repairs. Then, inexplicably, they took two performing wells serving 1200 homes off-line before announcing a "pressing need" for additional water from SWIPE.
Finally, the City's growth expectations as evidenced by the defunct 9,000-acre UGB expansion plan are ludicrous as they were predicated upon "boom year" data from 2006-7. As citizens, we have an absolute right to learn and Bend should publish the growth factors utilized to justify SWIPE.
Juniper Ridge is a massive failure by any quantitative or qualitative assessment. For example, they have missed their 2007 forecast of $120 million in revenues by Q-1 of 2012 by an astounding 92%! Juniper Ridge is not a viable proposition now as evidenced by the absence of any sale since October of 2008, and those transactions involved existing, i.e. not new, businesses - resulting in no net benefit to Central Oregonians who are stuck with a massive pile of debt.
The City has proven that it cannot manage water resources through the failed condemnation of Juniper Water Utility, costing average citizens some $11,000.00 for each of 1,200 homes in the Mountain High area. ($13.2 million/1,200 homes) Why should we trust them with SWIPE given the propensity for massive cost overruns, including millions for dubious consultants that have conflicts of interests with the project?
Bend overstated the need for UGB expansion lands by a factor that could easily approach 50-66% given current economic realities, and the Department of Land Conservation Development sent them back to "square one" two years ago. The City has little credibility with economic assumptions.
Dissolve the Urban Renewal District at Juniper Ridge and "mothball" the project in its entirety until 2050.
Sell Juniper Water Utility to a private entity and recoup some taxpayer losses.
Implement the "turnkey" 4,000-acre UGB plan that was prepared in 2007 with no provisions for Juniper Ridge expansion.
Abandon SWIPE immediately in favor of a downstream ground water well below the pipeline.