After 30 years on the board of directors of the Evergreen Metro District, the area water provider, Tom Ware has decided to turn in his badge.
“I just thought 30 was a good, round number,” he explained. Ware was also president of the board for 15 years and spent countless hours researching and negotiating deals to secure lasting water rights for Evergreen water users.
Ware arrived in Denver in 1960 as a geologist and decided in 1961 that Evergreen was a better place to live. He found an old summer cabin on Evergreen Lake and moved into it with his wife, Maryanna, known as Monk. They raised two daughters, Laura and Kate, and added room after room onto the rustic stone house. Today, one could say the home looks more like a sculpture studio with a house attached.
When the bottom dropped out of the oil markets in 1980, Ware turned to art full time.
He helped negotiate the purchase of the community water system from Public Service Co. in the early years. He was instrumental in planning efforts that resulted in dredging Evergreen Lake and the restoration of the western end of the lake.
“Tom was always a good friend,” said Gerry Schulte, district general manager. “He was the one that would listen. I’m very linear. With his artist right brain, he had a different perspective on most issues. It helped me mature into my job all these years.”
Ware is a charter member of the Evergreen Artists Association and a founding member of Art for the Mountain Community. He belongs to the Evergreen Aces bridge club and the Hiwan Country Club. He was a volunteer firefighter for eight years. He was on the committee that worked for two years to build a new arts center in Evergreen.
He couldn’t be persuaded to reveal his age.
Question: Why did you join the board of the Evergreen Metro District?
Answer: I think everyone should do things for their community. It’s something that you owe the community if you are going to live there. Ross Grimes, the former head of the board and a fire chief, asked me to.
Q: What made you decide to resign after 30 years?
A: I thought 30 years was a good time. It was a good, round number. They have a lot of men and one woman who will do fine.
Q: What have you accomplished?
A: I spent most of my time getting water rights. (Evergreen water comes almost exclusively from Bear Creek, which flows from the Continental Divide.) We have really good rights. We have Soda Lakes … so if we have a call, we can take it out of Soda Lakes and not Evergreen Lake.
We have built everything new, including sewer line and water treatment plant. When we bought it from Public Service, it was the biggest mess you ever saw. A lot of the credit goes to Ross Grimes and his foresight. We had to borrow a lot of money. We didn’t charge enough. We needed more money to do the facilities, and we have gradually raised the price of water to keep even.
Q: What did you learn from the drought year? (2002)
A: We had to put restrictions in place, but we did not have to take the lake down much. (The amount was 1 foot.) It’s important to me as a fly fisherman. I could never tolerate having a mudflat out there.
You could build a reservoir to hold water, but we are talking millions of dollars. It would have to be in Upper Bear Creek, and there isn’t an inch of land available. We thought about doing that, but there’s no way we could have.
Q: Genesee Water district built a dam and reservoir …
A: I don’t know what good it’s doing, but I have to hand it to them for getting it done.
Q: What will you do instead of metro district board meetings?
A: I’m going to be doing more artwork. I have some possibilities for commissions. One is going to be in Evergreen.
Q: What does it take to be a director and what are the rewards and minuses of the job?
A: It takes a lot more time than just the meetings. I worked on that water committee for 10 years. … Meetings are once a month. There’s homework and one or two committee meetings a month. It’s not as full-time as the (volunteer) fire department is.
Q: What kind of difficulties faced the district in the early years?
A: The biggest was the value of the service and what we charge for it. You want to be kind to the public, but if you do that too much, you can’t make ends meet. You have to strike a happy medium … . We are doing pretty good now, but we never charge enough … . In the mountains it’s harder (than cities like Denver) because you are up and down the hills. You have very low pressure in some zones, and in other places it’s going to blow your roof off.
Q: What would you like to say about Gerry Schulte, general manager of the EMD?
A: He’s cool-minded and smart-minded. He takes care of everything. He’s been there one year longer than I have. He knows what’s going on. His people really like him a lot and work hard for him. He’s a pretty good golfer.
Q: What do you see for the future of the EMD?
A: We’ve got membrane filters. They are very expensive. It’s wonderful. It’s the way to go. The regulations change and get tougher and tougher every year. People will keep paying more because of that and inflation.
Q: Do you ever wish there was a city government to handle the water supply and distribution?
A: I’ve always been against it. The reason is the extra cost of paying for everybody to sit on their rear ends and do nothing. We would have to pay for a police force (instead of) Jeffco paying for a lot of this stuff.
Q: Let’s get to the fun questions. What is your favorite bar and drink?
A: I don’t drink.
Q: What is your favorite restaurant?
A: The Rib Crib. I usually order rib tips. I also love the Tuscany. I like the antipasto plate.
Q: What would you make if you were cooking your favorite meal?
A: Green chili. I have a chili cook-off with my friends, and we argue about who has the best chili.
Q: What’s it like being an artist in this town?
A: You get recognition and it’s a good market, but the town is in general about 15 to 20 years behind New York. That makes it tough for artist to do something on a national scale. As long as you stick with bronze elk and pretty little scenes of streams in the mountains, you’ll do OK.
Q: Why is it important to have an arts center?
A: It’s important to have culture, whether it’s music or art. Something beyond a money-making proposition.
Q: Isn’t there an abundance of culture here?
A: If you like little pictures of streams in the woods. It’s something that goes beyond (that level). An arts center is more important than anything I can think of. The problem has been Evergreen is such a bedroom community. It’s hard to get people to work on the bedroom when they are in Denver all day.
Q: How do you feel about raising taxes to pay for an arts/community center?
A: I’m not looking at the rec district. I don’t know if they are into this thing anymore … . I think right now there is a possibility that Albertsons will become an arts center. I’m for whatever will get done.
Q: What keeps you in Evergreen?
A: It’s such a pleasant place to live. It’s like an island. There’s no pressure. There’s hardly any of the world here. It’s like an escape. If you want to be a part of the world, don’t move to Evergreen.
Q: What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
A: That I’m so good-looking.