A strongly worded letter from an attorney representing the city of Riverton urges the Jordan School District to pipe an irrigation ditch some residents believe is a hazard for elementary school students.
As district officials planned the new Riverton Elementary School at 13150 S. 1830 West, a city engineer tried to require the district to cover the ditch as part of the conditional-use permit. But Jordan district officials said it hadn't budgeted money for the construction so it wouldn't cover the water unless it was on school property or became a safety problem, a letter by attorney David L. Church said."The ditch has now become a safety problem in the minds of many citizens of the city. Something needs to be done about it," the letter states.
At the Riverton City Council's request, Church wrote the letter to inform the district that the city expects it to "live up to its commitments and obligations as a developer of raw ground and finish the necessary school improvements by piping the ditch."
"The City hopes the district will voluntarily pipe the ditch without the city having to pursue any options it might have," the letter states.
Spokeswoman Patty Dahl said Friday the district had received the letter. "We've turned it over to our legal counsel and are now awaiting a response from them. Based on their response, we will bring the issue back to the board of education."
Dahl said the department would need a few days to evaluate the letter.
The recent correspondance follows several meetings between residents, the city and school district officials and is the latest in a monthslong effort by Riverton and a citizens safety committee to force the district to pipe the ditch.
"This is something we really need to do," Mayor Sandra Lloyd said Friday. "The district was made aware of the situation right up front. I would like for them to pipe the ditch." She expressed some frustration that continuing efforts to compromise with district officials have been futile.
A group of parents believes the district is responsible for piping the ditch because it chose the school site at knowing about the nearby water source.
The ditch, which has carried water to area agriculture lands for 80 years, runs through property owned by several residents.
Bob Day, head of the district's construction, has said the district did a careful analysis of the area and put up a 6-foot chain-link fence on the property perimeters, as it has on several school sites with similar circumstances.
But Debbie Johanson, 13218 S. 1830 West, says it's not a placid ditch that flows 30 yards from her back door.
"It's not a normal irrigation ditch. It has 8-foot drops, you can't see it's there in some places," she said. "If a kid hops the fence, he might not even know it's there."