Opinion Photo

‘Responsible government’ preaches fear


On Feb. 2, a local news source published a letter to the editor from the chair of “Carefree Citizens for Responsible Government” (CCRG).  

From the letter, one may conclude that the chair is Carefree’s resident expert on everything from the Carefree Water Consolidation Project, fire protection, proper land use and development and the town government members’ integrity.

The use of misleading catch phrases such as “consume every bit of open desert space,” “Hampton Inn designed for mass tourism,” “government seizure of private land,” “forced industrialization,” “Town Hall deciding what is best,” “Deception has been instrumental,” “ADEQ has never received a single complaint,” “costly new water tank,” “permit dense development,” “town officials in private emails,” “increase the water for the development of this corner,” “Town today faces an immediate fiscal crisis,” “chronic underfunding of our essential fire protection,” “automatic aid will run into the millions,” “unsupportable without a property tax,” and, best of all, “unbridled expansion, unnecessary infrastructure development and reliance on uncertain revenues” is very dark indeed.   

Reading all this malarkey would make one think the sky is falling in Carefree. Where is the specific evidence to substantiate these narratives? I believe there is a real motivation behind these claims. 

Could it be that all this fear mongering is camouflage because the chair and CCRG does not want the water storage tank that is to be buried and hidden with landscape on property set aside as a utility easement at the Boulders, just off Tom Darlington Road?  

It’s curious that after losing in court trying to stop the water tank, this letter appears telling us what a big mess Carefree has become. 

The tank must be installed to provide additional capacity for fire protection when West Carefree residents and businesses connect to Carefree’s water system.

The ideal location for the water tank and systemwide plumbing has been studied infinitum. Debt service for the cost of the new infrastructure will be serviced by the new Carefree accounts. 

In conclusion, and with all due respect, I believe the chair just wants their way — “No water tank in my backyard” — “Let West Carefree eat cake.” If this “unnecessary infrastructure” is not built, it will divide Carefree into water “haves” and “have nots” and be a slap to the face of all Carefree’s west side residents, which constitutes almost one-third of the town’s population and 550 connections.  

They have been waiting patiently and lobbying for years for this to happen.  

Also, they did not try to stop the removal of the waste treatment plant at the Boulders that caused everyone’s sewer rates to go up. 

Every westside resident I’ve ever spoken to is anxious to connect to Carefree’s water system and not happy. They can’t vote in Cave Creek but do complain to Cave Creek and Carefree about water quality; not ADEQ as suggested.       

I have some questions for the chair: 

Why would you possibly deny almost one-third of the Carefree residents’ access to water in the town in which they live?    

If you gain control of the town council what specifically would you change?   

Would you stop the Carefree water consolidation project?   

Would you stop all commercial development in Carefree? 

What commercial development would you propose?   

Would you study any and all options for fire safety or just secure Daisy Mountain hat in hand?  

How would you raise more revenues without a property tax or increasing the sales tax base?   

Would you ask the voters to approve property taxes to pay for fire protection?   

Mike Johnson

Carefree town councilmember

The upcoming ‘open space’ ballot initiative


The upcoming ballot in Carefree this summer will offer Carefree voters an initiative relating to “prohibit (the) use of eminent domain to develop privately owned land designated open space/recreational in (the) current general plan.”

But the initiative also continues: “Measure is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2021. Property condemned between Jan. 1, 2021, and effective date must be offered for sale back to original owner at price paid plus interest. If repurchased, town must restore property to condition at condemnation at town’s expense.”

Let’s be clear about what is being attempted here. This is not about preserving open space. It is about forcing the underground water storage reservoir currently under construction in the Boulders open space to be torn down and removed, thus forcing the rebuilding of a new reservoir in an alternative Carefree neighborhood at the expense of all Carefree Water Company ratepayers. 

After the Boulders HOA directors and their friends lost all 12 court decisions over the last year and attempts to delay and halt the construction of the reservoir in an area reserved for the installation of utilities on the perimeter of the Boulders, construction is now moving ahead. 

This so-called “open space” initiative is a last gasp effort to force the new reservoir to be torn down and removed, requiring a new identical capacity reservoir to be built in another Carefree neighborhood and presenting the estimated $8 million bill for this senseless undertaking to all Carefree water users, 85% of whom live outside of the Boulders. 

Why would the 85% of Carefree residents living outside of the Boulders want to pay for the removal of an underground fresh water reservoir only to have it placed in someone else’s backyard at a higher cost to all residents?

Les Peterson

Carefree resident