City Reduces Western Channel Pipeline Solutions to 4

The land along the West Canal includes underground sewage, sewage and water pipelines from the Town of Gilbert and overhead power lines from the Salt River Project. (Tom Blodgett / Community Impact Journal)

The town of Gilbert presented residents with four viable approaches to a pipeline replacement project along the West Canal that sparked an uproar over homeowners losing much of their backyards.

However, some residents said after the November 15 meeting that they believed the city would decide to implement its original preferred solution of using a prominent estate to claim the city’s easements on their property, where neighbors would lose 7 to 26 feet of their properties from their current fences.

The project involves repairing a deteriorating section of a 36-inch sewer pipe that runs along the West Canal, about 20 feet underground, on land owned by residents, but for which the city and the utility d Electricity Salt River Project have easements— a legal right to cross or access someone’s land for a specific purpose.

SRP’s easement is to maintain the overhead power lines that run along the canal. For the city, it’s about maintaining the sewer – a 24-inch drinking water pipe and an 18-inch recycled water pipe – all located underground. These lines serve about 25,000 homes in Gilbert, city spokeswoman Jennifer Harrison said.

City officials said they believed the three pipelines, built in the 1980s, would need renovations soon. Affected residents live along Hemlock Avenue, Commerce Avenue and Honeysuckle Lane, according to city officials. They run between Village II Park in the west and Lindsay Road in the east.

The four options the city presented this month were among 10 developed after neighbors organized against what they called the city’s “land grab”. The city agreed in April to look for other options.

However, of the 10 options developed, six were scrapped after coordination with SRP due to Bureau of Reclamation ownership constraints in the Western Channel, city officials said.

Resident Kirk Nelson said in an email to Community impact journal some of the removed solutions were some of the best for the neighbors, completely removing the lines from the neighbors’ properties. He called the meeting a joke.

“We really felt the meeting was a way for them to say, ‘we listened’. We made 10 dream plans, but SRP tied our hands. Now we’re going to do what we wanted to do from the start, ”Nelson wrote.

The remaining four options include:

  • Option 1: the city’s original solution: acquire the existing easement fresh and relocate the walls / fences to the north side of the easement;
  • Option 2: Create a utility corridor “lane” by installing a gate on the north side of the easement, a block wall on the southern property line and gates on the side property lines;
  • Option 3: Acquire land at the manhole locations and install a block wall around the manhole to provide permanent access from the south;
  • Option 4: Install barriers only at manhole locations to allow access.

Nelson said most neighbors found options 3 and 4 to be the least invasive for homeowners.

“But they said they would decide what was best for the city,” Nelson said. “We all understood that to mean they would do what they had planned from the start.”

The reassessment of options is now entering a second phase, depending on the city, in which it will study further and provide a more detailed design and cost estimates of the remaining options.

A synthetic presentation will be made in April or May.

About Jefferey G. Cannon

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