may vote on freeway
S. Mtn. segment could be put on reservation
The Arizona Republic
Feb. 26, 2005 12:00 AM
River Indian Community members might vote as soon as May on
whether the South Mountain Freeway could be built on the
A vote supporting a freeway on the Gila reservation would please Ahwatukee Foothills residents and city officials who do not want the highway built along Pecos Road on the southern boundary of Ahwatukee. Homes, businesses and a park could be destroyed to make way for the highway. Some worry about noise, traffic and crime coming into the Foothills.
"I think the Gila need to decide if they are going to move forward," said Kris Black, a member of the Foothills Homeowners Association.
community's lieutenant governor, Mary Thomas discussed the
election at the South Mountain Citizen Advisory Team meeting
"Personally, I would like to see this issue resolved," Thomas said. "Whatever the decision is, everybody will need to accept it."
The vote could happen as soon as May or in the November election.
If the issue goes to the polls, a decision in favor of a freeway only means that the community has agreed to allow the area south of Pecos Road to be a part of the Arizona Department of Transportation's environmental impact study.
The only route officially under consideration for the southern portion of the freeway is Pecos Road and has been since plans were initially made 20 years ago.
ADOT officials have said they couldn't include a Gila route in their plans unless the community agrees to building a freeway there.
Gary Bohnee, the community's public-relations director, said that so far there have only been preliminary discussions about putting the measure on a ballot.
"Part of the discussions that will take place is how it would appear on the ballot and how soon," he said. The next regularly scheduled election, to select a governor and possibly council members, will be in November.
Although Thomas said there could be a May election, Bohnee said it is most likely that it would appear on the November ballot. Ultimately, that decision is up to the community's 17-member council.
In another important development, the I-10 Pecos Landowners Association, a group of about 700 property owners south of Pecos in the Gila community, recently voted to support a freeway built there, said Nathaniel Percharo who heads the group. "The landowners are on board and ready to negotiate," Percharo said.
News of the Gila community vote was met with trepidation and delight.
"I'm excited and a little bit nervous," Councilman Greg Stanton said. "Having an election of this sort would demonstrate significant movement."
Rock Argabright, a member of the South Mountain committee and real estate agent was not pleased.
"I think it's bad," Argabright said. "I don't think as a whole they've had a chance to be educated about traffic in the community. They may just look at it as a negative because it's a freeway."