Freeway plan spreads uncertainty
Unhappy, frightened and just plain angry are the
simplest ways to describe how the vast majority of the 2,100 people felt while
attending last week's open house to show the possible impact on Ahwatukee
Foothills of replacing Pecos Road with the Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway.
"We don't want any part of it," said Ed
Wolin of Ahwatukee Foothills.
Greta Rogers added, "They lost their opportunity
by diddling around too long."
Councilman Greg Stanton urged the Arizona Department
of Transportation to "stop taking a 1988 plan and forcing it on the people
Bill Rawson proposed a different perspective.
The associate with Godec Randall Associates, a
Phoenix-based communications firm contracted to help organize public
participation, said the freeway will help preserve home values and quality of
life. Gridlock is inevitable without the Loop 202.
"What happens to property values when I-10 is
gridlock and people can't get into or out of Ahwatukee," he said.
While opposition to the freeway connecting Interstate
10 near Ahwatukee with I-10 in the West Valley was clear, what wasn't clear was
Stanton opposes the freeway being built along Pecos
Road in favor of construction south on the Gila River Indian Community.
"We need to do it right and Pecos Road is not the
right alignment," Stanton said.
Instead, he wants ADOT to take whatever time is needed
to work with the Indian community.
Meanwhile owners of the estimated 255 homes in
Ahwatukee Foothills that would need to be demolished are left wondering what to
The current plan is only a preliminary estimate of the
land needed to build a freeway along Pecos Road.
"It could change, and it probably will change
based upon citizen comments, new information," Chris Clary-Lemon told
people during one of the presentations that took place continuously from noon
until the open house ended at 8:15 p.m. on Nov. 17. Clary-Lemon is an engineer
with HDR, a national engineering firm with offices in Phoenix, which is handling
the technical aspects of the freeway study.
But for people whose homes or offices appear to be
near the freeway or in its right of way, uncertainty was the common mood.
Jim Kirkpatrick bought two lots a year ago west of
30th Avenue for about $225,000 each. Now that the freeway appears to cut into
his two home sites, he's not sure what the value of his lots are.
"And the guy next to me sold his lot for
$500,000. How would you like to be that guy," who bought the lot before
discovering the freeway could cut into it? Kirkpatrick asked.
Ahwatukee Foothills real estate agent R.G.
"Rock" Argabright agreed, "The big problem is the unknown."
He has sold homes in other parts of the Valley that
were next to a freeway for full price, but he has also seen homes that back onto
a freeway that didn't increase in value.
But as a member of the South Mountain Citizens
Advisory Team, which advises ADOT on the freeway's alignment, Argabright
stressed that the design is not final and a red line, even if it goes through or
near a home, doesn't mean that the freeway is coming.
"The maps we saw the other day are preliminary,
those lines could move around," Argabright said.
"If they have to sell their home now, go ahead
and do it. If you can hold off until you can get better information, do it. The
homes will continue to rise in value," Argabright said.
And if a house ends up being purchased by the state,
Argabright said, the buzz from other real estate agents is that the state pays a
"They thought the state acted pretty fair with
them," Argabright said, recounting what he has heard from real estate
agents who have had clients whose homes were purchased by the state.
Ellen B. Davis lives in Club West and won't be
directly affected by the freeway condemnations. But as an attorney with Frances
Slavin in Phoenix, she has seen condemnation cases across the Valley and says
homeowners should begin to protect themselves.
"If it were me, a red-line house, I'd go out and
get an appraisal tomorrow," Davis said.
Why? Because it will be ADOT appraisers who will come
in if condemnation proceedings take place, and they will determine what the fair
market value of a home is. By collecting information now on comparable sales and
values, it will help to establish what the price was when ADOT first made public
the possible impact of the route.
"This is what the picture looked like when you
drew a red line through my house and displayed it at a public meeting,"
According to the timeline now being discussed by ADOT,
a firm decision on the freeway's eastern alignment, through Ahwatukee Foothills,
won't be made until late next year or early 2007.
The reporter can be reached at (480)
898-7914 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.