PERSPECTIVE: An open letter to the citizens of Taos

From the Citizens on Gesina Drive in Taos for Mutual Support of the voter approved sewer system

On Jan. 20, we received an anonymous letter from Concerned Taos Citizens relative to the voter-approved Taos Sewer System. It is apparent to those of us on Gesina Drive who received this letter that it was sent to most of the households in Taos except the mayor and two members of the Board of Aldermen.

Even though Concerned Citizens did not identify themselves in this letter, they were asking those of us who received it to sign our name to a petition requesting that the voter approved sewer system plan be “stopped until a full discovery and discussions can be accomplished.” We were then asked to drop the petition off at a drop box in the local grocery store before today’s (Jan. 25) public meeting, which will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 6 p.m. A representative from DNR will also be in attendance to discuss the sewer plan and funding.

We would like those who are interested in community improvements in Taos, as well as anonymous Concerned Citizens, to respectfully consider our thoughts and observations regarding this anonymous letter, the proposed sewer plan, and the state of public discourse within our community.

Anonymous letter

We believe a splinter group in our community — Concerned Taos Citizens — are responsible for this letter, as we have a good idea who some of them are. They are law-abiding, God-fearing individuals like the rest of us.

We fully appreciate their concerted efforts and understand that some of their issues are indeed legitimate, which we share, and some may be questionable, which we find problematic. Might we suggest that these concerns can be reconciled by a renewed, sincere and forthright effort on the part of Concerned Citizens, the mayor, and the Board of Aldermen?

It simply defies common sense to stop the progress of the sewer plan as we understand it at this stage of the process. Let us reiterate our belief that Concerned Citizens have our respect and empathy for whatever their perceived issues are. We want Concerned Citizens to understand that although we support the existing plan, which was overwhelmingly passed by the citizens of Taos, we are not insensitive to some of their concerns. But we feel sending an anonymous letter right before a publicly scheduled meeting without notifying the mayor and the Board of Aldermen hints at the pursuit of some ulterior motive which does not bode well for the quality of our public discourse. We hope we are wrong with this assessment.

Voter-approved sewer plan

We believe almost all knowledgeable citizens agree that the infrastructure (or lack thereof) in Taos will be enhanced by the development of a sewer system. As stated above, the sewer plan was approved by a huge majority of those who voted in the 4/6/10 election — 87.5 percent (152 Yes votes versus 22 No votes). We continue to believe that a significant majority of the citizens in Taos want this sewer system. Even Concerned Citizens stated in their anonymous letter that a wastewater treatment and collection system would benefit our community.

We simply do not agree that efforts towards development of this plan should be stopped. We strongly encourage Concerned Citizens, the mayor, and the Board of Aldermen to resolve to work together on an individual basis to ameliorate their differences and allow the pre-implementation phase to continue as planned and ultimately approved.

Public discourse within our community

We would like to address the state of civil discourse within our beloved community. We believe that implementation of the development of a citywide sewer system for the first time, on this scale, is a complex and burdensome challenge that requires many, many hours of donated time from our public officials. Valuable time taken away from their families, and yes, even their day jobs, in the hope that perhaps they can make a meaningful contribution to the common good.

These public officials are just like the rest of us, who have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and a job to hold. They are human, just like all of us, and will make mistakes. We agree with Concerned Citizens, that some mistakes were made. But we believe an honest effort has been made, and continues to be made by our elected officials. However, we reiterate our strong belief that the nature of whatever perceived mistakes have been made does not justify bringing this worthwhile sewer project to a halt. We realize that the elected officials don’t have all of the answers yet for every type of situation, but we are confident in their ability to work through these critical path issues in a determined, although painstaking and stressful manner, with Concerned Citizens.

Finally, our writing this letter brings to mind a comment made by a citizen at one of the public hearings in 2010. He stated to the Board of Aldermen that “You can be replaced.” We feel those kinds of comments are regrettable and distract from the real issues at hand. We would encourage all Concerned Citizens to actively seek a position on the Board of Aldermen, and work to make our community better. You will surely get a taste of what it feels like to address the challenges of a small, underfunded community such as Taos.

Let us all agree to move forward in a hopeful, collaborative and open manner. Thank you for your consideration of our thoughts and observations.

From the Citizens on Gesina Drive in Taos for Mutual Support of the voter approved sewer system: John and Jean Decker, Donna Dickey, Stan and Jackie Forck, Luke and Holly Hodges, Ralph and Darlene Jobe, Bado and Linda Tobar.

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