Town narrows Western Canal pipeline solutions to 4

Western Canal
The land along the Western Canal includes underground sewer, wastewater and water pipelines from the town of Gilbert and overhead electrical transmission lines from Salt River Project. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The land along the Western Canal includes underground sewer, wastewater and water pipelines from the town of Gilbert and overhead electrical transmission lines from Salt River Project. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

The town of Gilbert has presented to residents four viable approaches in a pipeline replacement project along the Western Canal that drew an uproar about homeowners losing significant chunks of their backyards.

However, some residents said after the Nov. 15 meeting they believe the town will decide to implement its original preferred solution of using eminent domain to claim the town’s easements on their property, wherein neighbors would lose from 7-26 feet of their properties from their current fence lines.

The project is to fix a deteriorating section of 36-inch sewer pipe that runs along the Western Canal, about 20 feet below ground, on land that is owned by the residents, but for which the town and electric utility Salt River Project have easements—a legal right to cross or otherwise access someone’s land for a specified purpose.

SRP’s easement is to maintain overhead electrical utility lines that run along the canal. For the town, it is to maintain the sewer—a 24-inch potable water pipeline and an 18-inch reclaimed water line—all located under ground. Those lines serve about 25,000 households in Gilbert, town spokesperson Jennifer Harrison said.

Town officials said they believe all three pipelines, built in the 1980s, will soon need refurbishment. The residents affected live along Hemlock Avenue, Commerce Avenue and Honeysuckle Lane, according to town officials. They run between the Village II Park on the west and Lindsay Road on the east.

The four options the town presented this month were part of 10 developed after the neighbors organized against what they characterized as a town “land grab.” The town agreed in April to look for other options.

However, of the 10 options developed, six were removed after coordinating with SRP because of constraints related to Bureau of Reclamation property within the Western Canal, town officials said.

Resident Kirk Nelson said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper some of the solutions removed were among the best ones for the neighbors, removing the lines from the neighbors’ properties completely. He called the meeting a joke.

“We really do feel that the meeting was a way of them saying, ‘we listened.' We came up with 10 dream plans, but SRP has tied our hands. Now we will do what we wanted to do all along,’” Nelson wrote.

The four options remaining options include:

  • Option 1: the town’s original solution: acquire existing easement in fee and relocate walls/fences to north side of easement;

  • Option 2: Create a utility corridor “alley” by installing a barrier on north side of the easement, block wall on the south property line and gates on the side property lines;

  • Option 3: Acquire land at manhole locations and install block wall around manhole to provide permanent access from the south;

  • Option 4: Install gates only at manhole property locations to provide access.

Nelson said that most of the neighbors felt options Nos. 3 and 4 were the least invasive to homeowners.

“But they stated that they would decide what was best for the town,” Nelson said. “We all took that to mean they would do what they had planned all along.”

The re-evaluation of options is now moving into a second phase, according to the town, in which it will further investigate and provide more detailed design and cost estimates of the remaining options.

A summary presentation will be made in April or May.
By Tom Blodgett

Editor, Gilbert

Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent more than 30 years in journalism in Arizona and joined Community Impact Newspaper in July 2018 to launch the Gilbert edition. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he served as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication from 2005-19 and remains editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


Make a Movie class
Six Pixels Studios East Valley/Phoenix owner's love of film blossoms into new career path

Six Pixels offers classes from filmmaking, stop motion, photography, YouTube and more

Gila River Hotels & Casinos plans to open Santan Mountain Casino in the next 18-24 months, company officials said. Future plans for the area include a hotel. (Rendering courtesy Gila River Hotels & Casinos)
New casino coming to Gilbert area; Duck Donuts marks 2 years in Chandler and more top area business news

Read the top business news from the past week from the Gilbert and Chandler areas.

Krista Cox
Gilbert Public Schools governing board approves course description books, fees

Krista Cox, GPS secondary school curriculum, instruction and assessment director, summarized the changes for the board as being done to improve the user friendliness of the book through its structure and format

Gavel, law books
Gilbert moves to dismiss lawsuit asking courts to throw out bond election results

The town of Gilbert asked Maricopa County Superior Court on Nov. 29 to dismiss a lawsuit that challenged the town’s $515 million streets, transportation and infrastructure bond election.

By the Bucket exterior
By the Bucket heading toward soft opening Dec. 1

The Italian restaurant serves hot spaghetti to go in a bucket and meatball sandwiches.

Atomic Comics
Atomic Comics reborn at SanTan Village in Gilbert

It marks the return of a popular comic book store chain in the Phoenix area that opened in 1988 but closed its four stores in 2011 in bankruptcy

Casino rendering
New casino near Gilbert should bring jobs to area

A new 160-acre, $150 million casino is expected to open a couple miles west of Gilbert town limits within the next two years.

Jennifer Gallego, Tap Dragon Craft Beer & Wine Bar interiror
Tap Dragon Craft Beer & Wine Bar opens in Gilbert

Tap Dragon offers local craft beers and a rotating wine list, meads and ciders.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott sits beside Samsung CEO Dr. Kinam Kim as he announces the company is brining a $17 billion facility to Taylor. (Screnshot via KXAN)
Samsung makes it official: Announcement from Governor's Mansion confirms $17B facility coming to Taylor

Nearly a year after Williamson County officials began pitching Samsung to bring a megafacility to the area, the electronics giant has made it official.

Jim Torgeson, who owns a Mesa sign-making business, filed the suit in Maricopa County Superior Court, naming the Town of Gilbert and each member of the town council in their capacity as a council member. (Courtesy Brian Jackson/Adobe Stock)
Sign maker seeks annulment of Gilbert bond election in lawsuit

A Gilbert resident and critic of the town’s $515 million streets, transportation and infrastructure bond filed suit Nov. 22, alleging his free speech rights were violated and asking the election results be annulled.

Now open
Three businesses that have opened in Gilbert

Here are three businesses that have opened recently in Gilbert.