July 22, 2009
Woodland’s heritage has always been about family farms and clean water. The Woodland Water Company was formed a hundred years ago, as the stories go, by some wonderful family farmers that obtained the rights to a natural, shallow spring that was present along the upper Provo River in a place they lovingly called "Woodland."
Also, the state of Utah granted an intricate system of irrigation ditches that has not only provided years of irrigation to these residences of Woodland but has greatly beautified, cleansed and protected our Upper Provo River water source.
The Committee to Incorporate Woodland has proposed a very narrow and long township boundary, with the entire southwesterly border being miles of the Upper Provo River, dividing Summit County and Wasatch County. The last tip of this township ends within several miles of the modern day Jordanelle Reservoir, a drinking-water source for the population downstream.
In 1939, when the neighboring town of Francis incorporated, the residents of Woodland loosely held their ground in the name of Woodland but did not legally incorporate and have remained under Summit County’s wing.
Through years of Summit County zoning changes, the remaining patchwork of family farms has become a nightmare to subdivide. In order to pass on the "Woodland heritage" to the committee member’s posterity, the committee members now want to be able to self-govern that subdivision process.
Currently the Woodland Mutual Water Company is nearly bankrupt due to neglect of the miles of metal pipe, laid many years ago, that have become paper-thin in places and need to be replaced to the tune of a million dollars (or seven?). The committee’s answer to that problem is that we will find it easier to get federal grant dollars if we incorporate. But the cost of absorbing this liability cannot be found on the proposed town balance sheet. The shoestring budget proposal to incorporate summarizes the same backward thinking of some of these missed opportunities.
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It is naive to think that the Woodland Township will not be required to provide some sort of sewage system to keep our stewardship of the Upper Provo River intact. I have been told that we can "self-govern" as a township, and we will be able to choose for ourselves whether or not we need a sewage system.
Woodland Township cannot be created in this bubble! Has the modern-day cost of meeting current and eventual state and federal standards for growth along the Upper Provo River even been considered? What is $7 million divided by 175 people, anyway?
I think Summit County knows the answer to that question. I think Summit County doesn’t even need to do a feasibility study to figure out the assets and liabilities of the Woodland area. Maybe they would even be happy to shift their responsibility to the people of Woodland.
I am one of the few business owners in Woodland and the word "bankruptcy" rings in my ear.
I will not be signing the petition to incorporate and urge my fellow friends and neighbors to refrain also.