PINEDALE – At Monday’s meeting, members of the Pinedale Town Council expressed their dismay at the mayor’s lack of communication, particularly as it relates dirt work the council did not approve at the contentious Jackson Avenue Park. That work was ultimately shut down by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) last week.
“We were putting in a sprinkler system – or an irrigation system, if you will – and somebody complained and the DEQ came out and shut us down,” mayor Bob Jones reported.
Last year, the town decided to store dirt on the 5-acre lot, which is ultimately to be used as fill material for the bike path project currently in the works in the northwest part of town. But last fall, the DEQ issued the town an air-quality violation for failing to mitigate the accompanying dust. While the town council voted to water it daily, Jones said at the time that he made a “command decision” to stop doing so, thereby resulting in the DEQ violation.
At its April 24 meeting, the council decided, in a 3-2 vote, to hydroseed the dirt and agreed to water it daily in order to help the seeding get established. Surface irrigation was the primary method discussed – whether by water trucks or surface hoses – but following that meeting, Jones decided to install a lengthy water line about 5 feet under the surface.
“I don’t recall every approving a sprinkler system that goes underground,” councilman Jim Brost said. “What was done down there … was never approved by the town council.”
“We’re not putting in a sprinkler system,” insisted Jones, explaining that it was intended to be an underground line that would ultimately allow for three above-ground spigots.
“You’re burying a line and there was no discussion,” Brost replied.
“I made a command decision,” Jones said.
“I know that, and that’s where the problem lies – the lack of communication,” Brost said. “And then, to me personally, going away from what was agreed on, because at no time was any underground lines agreed on to be put in there. … Nobody gave approval for that.”
“How would we tie into the water?” Jones said.
“There’s a faucet there,” Brost said. “There’s water accessibility right there. That’s why I’m saying we don’t need to put in any underground stuff in anywhere out there because that dirt pile, as far as I’m concerned, is going to go away. So all we have to worry about is putting water over the top of it.”
Brost was opposed to hydroseeding the ground at the April 24 meeting, since the dirt – and seed – will have to be torn up and moved to the path project in the fall. And he argued last month that either way, the ground will need to be watered.
“Cost-wise, it’s cheaper to put that water on it until we move it and not hydroseed it twice because the soil that’s there is not conducive for putting hydroseed on it,” Brost said Monday night. “It’s too rocky. It’s too sandy.”
Jones responded by accusing Brost of reporting the town.
“You turned us into the DEQ,” Jones said.
“Don’t you say you’re accusing me of saying I turned you into the DEQ,” Brost fired back. “Don’t you be accusing me. You should not have gone and started that project without talking to the council. … That is an unacceptable accusation there. You’re lying and I’ll tell you that right now to your face.”
Councilman Tyler Swafford noticed the smirk on Jones’ face as Brost was talking and did not appreciate it.
“I know you think this is funny, Bob,” Swafford told him.
“No, this is stupid,” he replied. “This is absolutely insane.”
“Honestly, I was kind of pissed off myself because I was getting calls from everyone in that neighborhood,” Swafford replied. “I didn’t know you approved digging in that neighborhood. … All of a sudden, you just show up and dig without telling us. I think that’s the larger issue, right? You were doing heavy construction on Jackson Avenue Park.”
“I have a supervisory responsibility to get a job done,” Jones said. “You said you wanted water out there.”
“The DEQ shut you down again!” Swafford replied.
“We thought we were OK to do that,” Jones said. “Ed (Wood) turned in all the paperwork. We thought we were good.”
“Why weren’t we notified then that the DEQ shut you down and why weren’t we notified that the line was put there?” Brost asked.
“Be careful what you ask for. You might get it,” Jones replied. “You want water. I’ll give you water.”
“It goes back to the communication again,” Swafford said. “I had no clue.”
“You understand how ridiculous this is?” Jones said. “I don’t have to communicate that I’m putting in a simple pipe in the ground. … If you want to be the mayor, God help us, because you cannot run a town that way. Everything cannot be done by committee.”
Swafford pointed to the unique history of the park, particularly with the DEQ.
“Digging (in that park) is an entirely different beast,” he said.
Town attorney Ed Wood submitted plans for a “sprinkler line and hydroseeding” with the DEQ, but following the shutdown, he isn’t sure when the agency will give the green light to proceed with the project. What’s more, when the time comes to move the dirt to the path project, another plan will have to be submitted to the DEQ.
In the meantime, if and when the DEQ gives approval for the sprinkler line, the town is hoping to finish the installation and get the ground hydroseeded, though Jones contends there isn’t a serious dust problem in the first place.
“This whole thing is mindboggling to me,” he said, pointing to a nearby industrial lot that also has dust. “This is not a matter of an extra dust problem. It’s a matter of people just piling on because people think it’s fun.”
The council then voted, 3-2 – with Brost and councilwoman Nylla Kunard opposed – to approve $3,740 for hydroseeding on the lot.