Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Little Indio residents eye city service options

Water services would add fire protection

Express Staff Writer

    Last week, Hailey staff members showed seven residents (representing four property owners) of Poulsen Road in the Little Indio neighborhood in west Hailey options for connecting to the city’s water and sewer system, and how much it would cost them to do so.
    No consensus was determined as to the neighborhood’s goals. Further informal community meetings on the issue are expected to continue.
    “Different property owners have different needs,” said Public Works Operations Director Mariel Platt at a City Council meeting Monday.
    The Little Indio neighborhood, located between Hop Porter Park and the Big Wood River, is home to about 30 residents. The neighborhood was developed many years ago as a private fishing village.
    Today, Little Indio is an eclectic neighborhood, made up of cottages, upscale homes and vacant lots. Half the neighborhood is located in Blaine County along Little Indio Road.  The other half is located in the city along Poulsen Road, with 14 separate property owners.    
    None of the houses in Little Indio are hooked up to the city’s water and sewer system. They instead use wells and septic systems. As a result, Little Indio homes have no fire hydrants, which would provide more protection by city and county fire departments.
    Hydrants would also allow for fire insurance, thereby allowing some residents to develop vacant lots more economically.
    In a response to requests from some Little Indio residents, city staff drew up preliminary plans for using a 30-foot-wide easement for infrastructure improvements to hook up to all the houses along Poulsen Road.
    Platt said an anonymous vote taken among property owners at the meeting indicated a preference for locating utility lines on private property under Poulsen Road, with a hydrant located at both ends of the road.
    Community Development Director Micah Austin said it would cost Little Indio residents $15,000 to $18,000 each to connect to city services, a sum which would include the required $8,000 hook-up fee.
    Austin said he would like to see the neighborhood connected to the city sewer system because there is a risk that sewage could contaminate well water and the river.
    Also discussed at the meeting was the need for a turnaround for fire trucks within the Little Indio neighborhood.
    “Trucks can get in, but they can’t turn around to get out,” Hailey Fire Chief Craig Aberbach said.
    One Poulsen Road resident who did not attend the meeting, and who declined to be identified, said a hydrant proposed for the north end of Little Indio would cost him money but also provide fire protection for the Little Indio Road residents in the county.
    Austin said a “cost-sharing” option between city and county residents in Little Indio could be discussed as a way to please all members of the neighborhood.
    Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said he would like to see a “global solution” for bringing the entire Little Indio neighborhood into compliance with city standards, but the city would not initiate further proposals.
     “If we’re going to move forward with this, it will have to come from the neighborhood,” Haemmerle said.
    In other Hailey news:
- The City Council entered into a contract with Galena Engineering and Benchmark Associates for ongoing public works support.
- The council discussed the possibility of enlisting the Planning and Zoning Commission to serve as the city’s Development Impact Fee Advisory Committee.
Tony Evans:

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