Fred is Outside Washing the Car
(A Sight I Didn't Think I'd Ever See on the Santa Fe Trail Ranch)
Hail to the hearty. We have city water on the Santa Fe Trail Ranch.
How many times have we had to assure our neighbors that it was possible?How many times did our fellow ranch owners and Trinidad
locals try to discredit the possibility and make fun of us for even trying?
How many people have had to endure lies and nastiness as they tried everything humanly possible to keep the process going?
Well, I can't let this part of our ranch history pass by quietly without some reminder of what we've all endured to get to this point. And I can never salute enough the people who sacrificed to make it possible:
- Will Potter, Ted Novakowski, Jim Davis, Eddie Gieske, David Hulstine, Al Tucker, Michelle Minion, Janice Hines, Walt Wolff and others who sat on the early POA Boards and decided to find a way to make our lives in nature just a bit more comfortable and definitely more safe by installing phones and a real water system; negotiated with the city for the water and got the process started.
- Then the next group of inventive volunteers came on board. Tom Stephens, Dave Schroepfer, John Woods, who, along with Jim Davis and Will Potter, found a way to finance and design "a better water system" and found a design engineer and contractors who signed contracts that they could do the job for the money we had.
- Some other ranch owners got involved in the process who I now feel worked on the process only because they wanted to prove it wouldn't work, and, out of respect for them, I won't mention their names.
- Then things started going wrong, and the process started to take negative turns. The naysayers became relentless, and attacks on the ranch owners who were trying to keep the process moving forward brought the process to a virtual standstill. That's when Rick Johnson and I joined the fray. I give us credit for lighting some fires and getting the old engine moving forward again. A new water committee was organized, with Rick as its leader and me asking questions and holding up the contract to the reluctant contractor.
- After a year of checking pump station heaters, designing insulation for valve housings, and attending weekly meetings, as we tried to figure out how to complete the system ourselves, I gladly turned over my hard hat to better volunteers when Mike Shelton and Dennis Scott joined the team.
- And now the sixth generation of water watchers is at the helm: Jim Davis continues to monitor the legal battle, Mike Shelton keeps watch, and newcomers Bob L. and Bob T. Scott, without much flair or fanfare, are the ones who finally pushed the process through to completion, along with contractor Robert Nelson.
- Throughout the entire process have been cheerleaders on the sidelines. There are many of you out there, but I want to pay special tribute to Patrick Roehl, Michelle Minion, Carol Rawle, and Joyce Wolff who defended the frontliners when we most needed some positive support:
- When we found out the Developer wasn't going to come through with a potable water system as we all thought we had paid for.
- When we traded off a water system in order to gain mineral rights.
- When we decided we could find a way to fund a potable water system by ourselves and took our first leap of faith in creating a Metropolitan Water District.
- When we realized we had hired a contractor who could install phone systems but was incapable of installing a water system, even though we had paid for both.
- When we tried to do it ourselves by combining the talents and experiences of our neighbors.
- When we discovered that everyone was an expert on water systems but that all the experts disagreed about how to create one.
- When we came to the point that we had to either dump all the money already invested and quit the process or take a second leap of faith and consequently discovered that we were still the adventuresome pioneers that we thought we were when each of us decided to leave our city lives and move to the SFTR wilderness. We grabbed hands, closed our eyes, and leaped again.
- When we found Pete Schrepfer and his skilled water systems crew who were able to take over the project and record each item of previous bad workmanship along the way, aiding greatly our court case.
- When we found Robert T. Nelson who was willing to take over the project with the dwindling funds we had remaining.– a day laborer back in the original days who had worked on the aborted system, knew the problems that were buried all along the 80+ miles of SFTR roads, was willing to get the know-how needed to finish the project, and was willing to accept the challenge.
- When the water committee gained enough overseers determined to put in the hours necessary to watch over every inch of dirt as our final contractor located the remaining leaks, completed and sanitized the system.
What remains of this amazing story? The completion of our suit against the original contractor and its bonding company and the rest of you hooking up to the system.
I encourage all of you to think about hooking up to the system before your window of opportunity is gone. Remember that we have a ten-year period to tap into the Trinidad system, and we're on year six right now. After that time, there's no guarantee that you can get a tap. Thirty-one parcels are currently hooked up to our system. Once we reach 50 taps, our system could start to make a profit. After a couple of years of conservative use, we'll have a good idea of what it will cost to maintain the system. Then our Metropolitan District funds can start to fund other projects or come back to us as refunds. It's a very, very good deal!
I know hauling water or having Art deliver it is a fairly inexpensive process. I can't speak for others, but that process had gotten very old for the Vaugeoises and especially for our trusty old truck that was about at the end of its ability to haul the liquid stuff up our bumpy mountain roads. I don't think I'll ever be able to let water just run down the drain and I still take very quick showers, but I also love languishing in a hot bath after hauling brush up the hillside in the never-ending fire-safety process. The cost of the hook-up becomes very reasonable when you compare it to the long-range alternative.
Just remember … Fred is outside washing our car!
Fred and Harriet bought property in 1994. Started building in 1996 and moved here permanently in 2001. Harriet served on the POA Board from 2001-2004, was President for one year, and served on the Water, Road, Communication, and Covenant Committees. Any inaccuracies or omissions in this article are inadvertent and should be attributed to Exhaustive Volunteeritis.