Submitted by Fred Barcon
A lot of people have been asking me how I’m involved with the TCRSD project, what expertise I have to critique the project, and if I am for or against the project.
The Tri-City area has wastewater issues, that is a fact. Those issues need to be resolved, and I am very much in support of a project that solves the issues in the most logical, cost-effective manner possible.
Unfortunately, TCRSD’s current plan is NOT the most logical nor cost-effective solution. I am against TCRSD’s current plan.
There is a more cost-effective solution that has not been thoroughly and adequately explored. We need to resolve the wastewater issues in Tri-City quickly and effectively with the lowest possible cost being passed on to the residents and property owners.
TCRSD’s current project is nonsensical, outrageously expensive and they expect residents and property owners to foot the bill—and that’s WRONG!
Over two years ago, the TCRSD approached me for assistance with moving their project forward. They are aware that it was Alfredo Gutierrez and myself who secured the federal funding for the Town of Miami wastewater system project. I have 30 years-experience as a federal contractor and have worked on several wastewater system projects of the same magnitude.
After TCRSD requested my assistance, I started attending meetings and looking at their engineering plans. I immediately noticed several fatal flaws with the project and pointed out time and again that they were making needless mistakes that were adding tens-of-millions to the overall project costs.
Bob Zache and company refused to listen, they insisted on moving forward with a nonsensical plan. I called a meeting with USDA representatives Jeff Hays, Mike Luecker, and Robert Langford, to inform them of the fatal mistakes TCRSD was making. I tried to appeal to USDA’s fiscal responsibility and their duty to ensure the population could afford the project. A large percentage of Tri-City residents live on fixed incomes and cannot afford the project in its current form. The USDA representatives belligerently yelled, “We don’t care!”
During numerous TCRSD meetings, USDA representatives have threatened that the community either accept the project in its current form or forfeit the funding altogether. That’s wrong on many levels!
First, USDA is fully aware that TCRSD did not do community outreach for this project. They know this project has been moving forward behind closed doors and the public is not aware of the details of the plan. USDA is required to encourage full and complete transparency and proper community outreach which must be conducted BEFORE a project moves forward.
Second, USDA’s fiscal year starts on October 1st of each year. Jeff Hays’ threat that he will remove funding if the project isn’t advanced immediately is a lie. The only change as of December 31st is Bob Zache must step down from the TCRSD board. That’s it! USDA has plenty of time to work with engineers to get the project heading in the right direction before USDA’s fiscal year ends on September 30th. If fact, Jeff Hay is wasting time by his adamant refusal to value engineer this project and get it turned in the right direction.
Third, USDA is federal organization that was formed to solve problems and benefit communities, and their staff has an obligation to uphold that role. USDA staff must remain neutral (despite any opinions they might have), they must remain open, positive, transparent, and encourage community input. Ignoring the vast amount of opposition to this project, the rude and belittling comments USDA has made on numerous occasions, the lies and half-truths used to confuse the taxpayers rather than explain the project in simple laymen’s terms.
This should not be the manner in which USDA representatives interact with communities.
USDA should not advance the TCRSD project due to the numerous fatal flaws with the TCRSD project in its current form. The project has not met USDA’s Letter of Conditions, the 208 Amendment has not been approved by CAG, BHP has not singed a land lease. Tri-City’s PER includes areas currently being serviced by Globe and Miami, once those areas are removed from the District, the project will not have the population base to support its own wastewater treatment plant. USDA knows all of this.
I am in constant contact with Congressman O’Halleran’s staff and have been corresponding with USDA State Director, J.C. Sherman. Both Congressman O’Halleran and J.C. Sherman have assured me that they are investigating the TCRSD project and USDA’s behavior regarding the TCRSD project.
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