Gila River impact debated
issues aired at meeting
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 27, 2005 12:00 AM
future South Mountain Freeway and the impact of plans by the Gila River Indian
Community topped discussions at a Town Hall meeting with Phoenix Councilman Greg
A small but vocal group gathered Monday night to talk about speeding, the city
budget and education, but the bulk of the discussion focused on Loop 202 and the
impact on Ahwatukee Foothills of development on the reservation.
The consensus appeared to be that, regardless of where the freeway is built,
development projects on the reservation would transform Ahwatukee Foothills from
an isolated community tucked between a mountain and an underpopulated desert to
For years, the Gila River Indian Community has pressed Phoenix to open up
streets along Pecos Road to facilitate traffic between the two areas.
They are negotiating which streets to open. With the relocation of Rawhide from
Scottsdale to the Gila River Indian Community, those negotiations have
Stanton conceded blocking the Gila's access to roads would be legally
Instead, the councilman said he prefers nurturing the relationship.
"I think the relationship between Scottsdale and the Pima has been a
positive thing," said Stanton, who would like to see an intergovernmental
pact between Phoenix and the Gila River Indian Community. "In the long run,
we will do better by having a positive relationship with the Gila."
But concerns about traffic and crime lingered among some at the meeting.
"Why are we opening up our peaceful community where we have our
families," said Joyce Herrington, adding that crime may rise in the area
once streets are opened and development starts.
Greta Rogers, who said she has worked with members of the Gila River Indian
Community, believes concerns about lewd conduct and illegal acts are
"They want it for easier access," Rogers said. "It will be
mutually economically beneficial."
The construction of the South Mountain Freeway was a foregone conclusion for
some of the residents.
Stanton disagreed, insisting that the 21-year-old project may not be built along
"Make no mistake, the people will decide," Stanton said. "I
believe it is in the best interest of the community to build that road when we
have a reasonable alternative."
Not everyone is against the freeway coming through Ahwatukee Foothills.
"We can't close ourselves off and say, 'Hey we're special,' " said
Dave Davenport who bemoaned the gas he spends on his 30-mile-plus work commute
to the west side.