Jeanne Shizuru guest column: Waterline issue could cost millions
In a recent presentation to the Douglas County Republican Central Committee, Commissioner Barry Penzel reported that pipeline construction on Jacks Valley Road has stopped because of an easement issue involving the crossing of Washoe tribal land. The county knew full well that this issue had not been resolved, yet plunged forward with a pipeline that now can’t be completed. Worse, the pipeline construction had been holding up road repairs on Jacks Valley. This costly scandal could potentially end up costing the taxpayers even more than the estimated $1 million tire-gate theft.
This pipeline was supposed to create a loop around Carson Valley and serve the development on the west side of Jacks Valley Road. Now it has become a pipeline to nowhere. Construction was started and abruptly halted in 2016, and apparently no progress has been made on procuring the easement. This situation points to another instance of gross negligence of certain County employees, who are never held accountable for their incompetence. The taxpayers are expected to go along with these blunders and to accept that funding is never available for fixing the local roads and flood control.
Commissioner Penzel owes us an accounting of how the easement issue will be resolved and who will be getting fired or demoted for this fiasco.
In another revelation Commissioner Penzel informed us that the Lands Bill has stalled because there is an impasse between Douglas County and the Washoe Tribe on the upkeep of Dance Hill. This is Forest Service land south of the Ranchos, where the tribe celebrates girls’ rites-of-passage. The Washoe Tribe has long wanted Douglas County to take over the upkeep from the Forest Service because the Service does not have any money for this, but Douglas County has refused in the past because it does not want to be saddled with this responsibility.
The Lands Bill is the legislation that the county has been working on for six to seven years to get BLM land turned over to the county. This bill is a priority because this land is very valuable and would produce good tax revenue for the county. Our Washington politicians, such as Sen. Dean Heller, have previously been in favor of the Lands Bill but some are now reconsidering their support until these awkward problems with the tribe are resolved.
The mishandling of the easement situation has put pressure on Douglas County, which may end up costing the taxpayers millions of dollars if they can’t get the easement from the tribe and end up relocating the pipeline around Indian land in addition to the expense of taking care of Dance Hill if they want the Lands Bill approved.
Jeanne Shizuru is a Gardnerville resident.