Neighborhoods press Council on dredging
Fed up with a City Council that has thus far refused to take decisive action to green-light dredging or stop an environmentally-destructive and potentially coffer-draining cross-county dam-and-pump water plan, even though its cost has probably ballooned to over $200 million, six city neighborhoods have united behind a resolution they hoped Council will pass Monday, November 3.
"It's really become a movement," says Betty Mooney, one of the leaders in what's become known as the "Dredge first, dam later" movement. "Dredging is both feasible and affordable, and our politicians will look very foolish not to get detailed costs of both the dam pipeline and dredging."
The resolution–- by the Martha Jefferson, North Downtown, Fry's Spring, Jefferson Park Avenue, Woolen Mills, and Starr Hill neighborhoods–- calls attention to the fact that despite mounting evidence of problems with the official plan which has caused the mayor and other Councilors to complain, City Council has thus far avoided any official act. (Even the City Council's June 2 demand for a dredging study–- which now appears derailed by a Task Force–- expressed confidence in the official plan.)
The lead backer of the official plan, Tom Frederick, the director of the Rivanna Water & Sewer Authority, says he's received no direction to change course even though he and his board have acknowledged that one key part of the plan, the 9.5-mile pipeline, remains in the conceptual stage. Despite an earlier offer, Authority chair Mike Gaffney declined to discuss the pipeline at the board's last meeting.
Mooney had hoped Council would pass the 96-word resolution as offered. Instead, Council unanimously passed a much longer resolution that tops 500 words, calls for creation of a three-engineer panel, and appears dependent on a possibly dredge-averse Task Force.
"It's completely confusing," says Mooney. "It's unfortunate the public couldn't read this and comment before they voted."
The approved resolution was not immediately available electronically. The proposed neighborhood resolution read as follows:
It is hereby resolved that the City Council of Charlottesville, in order to insure that City taxpayers and water-rate payers are not subject to unnecessary water-rate and tax increases, and to protect the integrity of the City-owned Ragged Mountain Natural Area, will prohibit any excavation, de-forestation, or road construction activities related to the proposed Ragged Mountain Dam, unless studies clearly demonstrate that the construction of such a new dam and pipeline is less expensive and less environmentally destructive than dredging of the South Fork Rivanna Reservoir as part of the Fifty Year Community Water Supply Plan.
–last updated Tuesday, November 4 at 4:44pm