About two years ago, Josh and I were sitting with some of our very dear friends, Tara and Laif Larson. They relayed what we thought to be just some hill gossip. It went something like, “My parents friends said you will NEVER get water and wastewater service in Redway.” We laughed it off and said, well that is preposterous! But guess what, who ever you were, you hit the hammer on the nail. We are never going to get service in Redway.
We attended last night Redway Community Service District meeting along with thirty other supporters, made up of family, friends and people that we now know but didn’t before. It was incredible inspiring to hear your kind words about our project. After public comment, the board quickly ushered us out into the cold night to wait over an hour as the Redway Community Service District board went into closed session conferring with their counsel. After attending other board meeting in different districts, where closed session is held before the general public meeting, it is always somewhat a shock the treatment that we the mere public receives by the RCSD.
The meeting returned to an open meeting and discussion began on the first agenda item, New Connection Policy. Something I would like to point out is everything about this particular board is a mystery to me. I went and picked up the agenda packet at 11am on Tuesday and the three resolutions that were passed last night were not included. We asked why these were not included in the agenda packet and the response was, they were not ready. It is amazing what the RCSD can do when they put their mind to it.
To the group dismay, this new policy was for all new applications for water and /or wastewater service to be reviewed and approved by the Board of Directors. This puts a lot of power into the hands of the board. Even though our application was turned in back in January, this new resolution now guides procedure for it. This does not seem legal to us and our council doesn't believe it to be legal either, but if want to prove that it is illegal, we must again go back to court. This is something that we do not have the time, energy, heart or money to do. So what this now means, is that the Redway Community Service District Board of Directors now has the discretion to choose between projects will come to life and which projects will die in planning, something they seem to have always wanted to do.
Next up was a resolution to raise connection fees. Again, this was not something that was included in the agenda packet that I picked up just a little over 24 hours before the meeting. I do not have the exact numbers for what the rate changes are here but from the last person to hook up to the next person to hook up, my memory of the change is from $1400 to $14,000. Lucky for that last person. And then one more little bit of power that can be wielded now by the board is Section D of this resolution. Special Connection Charge. Here it reads
“In addition to any other charges established herein, the District may establish special connection charges, for any connection to the District’s water distribution system when, in the opinion of the board of Directors of the District, the circumstances of such connection will place an unusual impact on the District’s water distribution system necessities the establishment the payment of charges over and above those established herein."
All of this is good if you have the right people in here that have the right guidance. You need some progressive thinkers and people that are willing to take action. Have a vision for where they want our lovely Southern Humboldt to go. But when you get people in there that want to set the growth rate for Southern Humboldt at ZERO percent, which as been discussed at the RCSD, Redway may have reason to be alarmed.
Then finally on to the last agenda item that we were going to stick around to find out about. It was our application for service. Once again, a resolution to deny our application had been written up but was not in the agenda packet. And once again, they are asking more from us. I don’t need to go over what we have already been asked to do and comply with only to have the rug yanked out from under foot but now, they want us to fill out yet another application and quietly sit back and wait. But then again the question of how long is raised and an issue of trust. We've been sitting for two and half years now. I felt like we were patient, but apparently that is not long enough. It is clear no matter what we do or what we say, that this particular business is NOT welcome in the Redway Community.
Southern Humboldt, we thank you for all the love, encouraging words, support and time you have given to Josh, Esmé and I as we struggled to bring this brewery to life. But just like Eel River Brewery that tried to bring craft beer to Southern Humboldt so many years ago, we too have failed. We shed a small tear and look fondly to the future of Gyppo Ale Mill, just not anywhere near the town of Redway.