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11:43 AM Thu, Dec. 13th

Friday Catchall: Deep in growth, dirty dark money

Crews work on the infrastructure where the future Deep Well Ranch subdivision is planned to be centered. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

Crews work on the infrastructure where the future Deep Well Ranch subdivision is planned to be centered. (Les Stukenberg/Courier)

The Friday Catchall:

• CLOSE THE DOOR? — When I moved my family here more than 20 years ago, I never imagined our rural “ranch” would be surrounded by hundreds of homes.

We were second on the street, and now we often hear vehicles driving by rather than the crickets that echoed through the night before.

Still, I realized I cannot close the door to growth.

I read with interest about the Prescott City Council’s approval of the Deep Well Ranch subdivision this week. Atop my mind were challenges with density, traffic and water.

I received a few answers, and am glad the property will not be only a bunch of lot splits – which could have happened.

What surprised me the most, leading up to this week’s vote, were the mentions of the Big Chino pipeline project.

The Center for Biological Diversity released results of a new study that concluded:

“Local groundwater pumping to support sprawling development in Prescott and Prescott Valley, including a proposed $400 million pipeline, will dramatically and permanently reduce the upper Verde River flow, according to a new study. The findings undercut claims from those communities that the water can be replenished.”

And, the growth of Deep Well — rather, the number of houses – at some point is dependent on more or new water. So, when did the city take the pipeline off the shelf? I don’t recall that.

Bottom line is I don’t believe the pipeline will ever produce even a glass of water. It’s become cost prohibitive at least.

Even if Deep Well does not need more water, I wonder how growth will continue. We’ll continue to examine the issue.

• DIRTY MONEY — Prescott voters grew tired of hit-piece mailers this election season, and the money behind them has largely been hidden.

It is called “dark money” (the hidden part), but an initiative filed this week with the state – deemed “Dirty Money” – looks to turn on the lights.

Recall that Terry Goddard, former state attorney general, is spearheading it; they have until July 5 to collect and file 225,963 signatures to get it on the 2018 General Election ballot. I previously called it ineffectual for local elections, since it had a $10,000 reporting requirement (any contributor giving that much or more).

Well, it now reads: “Anyone spending more than $10,000 to oppose or support candidates or ballot measures must disclose everyone who contributed $2,500 or more…”

That changes things a bit. Here’s wondering if they’ll use paid circulators or if this is hot-button enough to succeed.

As an aside, Gov. Doug Ducey is opposed to the initiative, saying it would interfere with the ability of people to participate in campaigns without fear. “I’ve always been a fan of more transparency … (but) I think people have a First Amendment right as well to participate and not be bullied.”

I disagree for the most part. While I detest bullying of that sort, there’s something about digging up dirt in the eleventh hour of an election that turns my stomach more. Let’s call that bullying too.

• NICE TREE! — The Courier’s Christmas Tree Contest is underway. You have until 11 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10, to enter; voting begins Dec. 11.

Visit dCourier.secondstreetapp.com/Frontier-Village-2017/gallery/ to upload a photo of your decorated tree, to win gift cards provided by Frontier Village shopping center.

• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): It’s Christmas time in “Arizona’s Christmas City”! Prescott’s Christmas Parade and Courthouse Lighting are Saturday, Dec. 2. They begin downtown at 1 and 6 p.m., respectively.

Enjoy!

Follow Tim Wiederaenders on Twitter @TWieds_editor. Reach him at 928-445-3333 ext. 2032, or twieds@prescottaz.com.