There will be no mud racing in Hunter Estates in Duncan.
Duncan Valley resident Jeff Harnish met with Duncan Town Council members during a workshop session Dec. 3 to discuss the possibility of reviving mud racing events in the area.
Interim Town Manager Philip Cushman had suggested the possibility of using a town-owned plot of land on McGrath Avenue in Hunter Estates for the event, Harnish said.
Council members put the topic on their Thursday, Dec. 9 agenda for a vote and asked Harnish to speak with residents of the neighborhood in advance.
At the start of the discussion Thursday night Cushman read a letter from residents Armando and Betty Rendon in which they expressed support for mud racing, but opposition to it being in their neighborhood.
The couple said they moved to Duncan for peace and quiet and holding mud racing events in their neighborhood would bring noise, dust and trash. They also worried about the impact of additional traffic on their already deteriorating streets and a lack of parking.
Harnish presented the council with 19 residents’ signatures, saying they all signed the petition to bring mud racing back before he even finished telling them the details.
Duncan Mayor Anne Thurman, Vice Mayor Valerie Smith and council members Alex Blake, Jill Wearne and Deborah Mendelsohn echoed the concerns of the Rendons.
The acoustics in the neighborhood are such that she can even hear the inside bells from Duncan Junior High School, Smith said.
Blake pointed out that the county used to sponsor mud racing at the county fairgrounds and stopped because of the expense and liability issues.
“The county has exponentially more resources than we do and they have a facility,” Blake said.
The council member also said he wasn’t buying the argument that mud racing would be a boon to local restaurants and gas stations. Their gas station doesn’t sell racing fuel and restaurants did not see an uptick when the races were held at the fairgrounds, Blake said.
“If you can’t figure out your issues with the county, I don’t see how we’re going to be any different,” Blake said.
When council members offered to speak on behalf of the Duncan Mud Racing Association with county officials, Harnish said he would drop out of any efforts to bring mud racing back to the area because of all of the politics involved. He said he couldn’t speak for his friends who were also involved in his efforts.
Advocating for the association was one option, but Cushman said the council could also direct him to do nothing or they could direct him to find another location for the races, although he noted the airport is definitely not a possibility as was once suggested.
The council directed Cushman to speak with county officials.
During Thursday’s meeting, the council also heard an update from Dick Williams, who represents Veregy, an engineering and energy services company that has spent the last several months evaluating the town’s water and wastewater systems, drawing up plans for improvements and applying for grants — all in the hopes of getting a contract to move forward with those improvements.
Last week, Dick Williams said Veregy grant writers have applied for nearly $1.8 million in grants for the $5.7 million project, with the expectation that the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority of Arizona would finance the remaining portion with a loan that would forgive 30-50% of the principal. So far, the town has received $352,000 in grant money.
On Thursday, Williams told council members Veregy representatives met with people from WIFA earlier in the week. They were told WIFA would likely forgive closer to 50% of the principal because the current status of the systems is a health issue. They also said the town is in a good position for higher loan forgiveness because of their status as a historical community that is eligible for Colonias grants through the Community Development Block Grant program.
Williams also said Veregy representatives are also sharing all of the contracts and financial documents with Duncan’s attorney and the financial advisor they hired earlier this year. He reminded the council there is a chance they may have to impose water and wastewater rate increases depending upon how many grants they get and the size of the WIFA loan and any proposed rate increases would be discussed with Patricia Walker, the financial advisor.
At the end of the discussion, Blake acknowledged there are some residents who are leery about Veregy’s involvement with the town. He said he wanted to point out that even if the town doesn’t sign a contract with the company, the cost of their work thus far is completely covered by an $82,000 United Way grant.
The WIFA application will be submitted Dec. 20.