Dear Editor,

We would like to respond to Mr. Robert Buckingham’s letter regarding a potential change in the city’s water tank location at the Sunset Cemetery located at the intersection of Spanish Valley Drive and Spanish Trail Road (“Land was set aside for cemetery,” March 16-22, 2017 Moab Sun News).

First, Mr. Buckingham conveniently omitted the last sentence of the recorded deed, which makes it clear that any restrictions and conditions stated in the permit (read land not already in cemetery use) expired in October 1982. The ownership does not “revert to the United States” and “express permission from the Secretary of Interior/Bureau of Land Management” is not needed because the 25-year time frame holding the city to these conditions passed over 34 years ago!

In the deed’s own words, “All restrictions, limitations and conditions, contained in this patent, concerning the use of the lands, the transfer of title thereto and control thereover, shall cease to be in effect upon the expiration of twenty-five years from the date of this patent.” This deed is dated Oct. 10, 1957 (recorded Oct. 17, 1957, found on page 422). We are surprised that Mr. Buckingham is unclear on, forgot, or omitted this point because we brought him a copy of this deed in 2015 and discussed the implications of this wording with him.

Do main valves and extensive plumbing for the cemetery qualify as cemetery use? Maybe. Might that be why numerous stakes with orange tops suddenly sprung up in our proposed tank area just after the Sun News article was printed (“Residents ask city to reconsider water tank site,” March 9-15, 2017 Moab Sun News)? We expect that the cost regarding the irrigation system is negligible when compared to the $4,000,000 projected cost for the water tank to be paid with city funds and a Community Impact Board loan and grant. Changing the irrigation will cost less than the liability to the city from loss of nearby property should a leak occur.

Second, Mr. Buckingham told us when we met with him in 2015 that the “four bodies buried in this area of the cemetery” were located in a different part of the cemetery. He told us that these indigent folks are buried nearer to the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency building, not in the area where we propose the tank be located. Which is it and where is the proof?

Third, we agree that it is very important to reserve lands for cemeteries for the future. If “there is no more land designated for cemetery use in Grand County” and that “the cemetery district will never be able to purchase more property on the open market for use as a cemetery” as Mr. Buckingham states, maybe the original water tank location, as well as our proposed location, should be reserved for cemetery use and not a water tank. It certainly makes more sense that the best use of prime land, located on an accessible intersection, not be used for a water tank. The water tank could be placed in an area that cannot be used for a cemetery or assured housing.

Fourth, Mr. Buckingham states that “the only objection to using the property is coming from Mr. Dean and Ms. Sharpe … because it is in their backyard.” We expect that we are not the only ones in the neighborhood that disagree with the tank location. This is not about the tank being in anyone’s backyard, Mr. Buckingham’s included. It is about safety of personal property, liability concerns for the city and lives in the event of a failure.

Finally, we believe that the proper place to address issues concerning the placement of the water tank is not in letters to the editor. A public/open meeting is the correct venue for all sides to present their opinion. To date, this has not occurred.