planning among concerns at Town Hall
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 27, 2006 12:00 AM
Growth and planning issues were on the minds of
several Ahwatukee Foothills residents at a Town Hall meeting this week hosted by
Councilman Greg Stanton.
Although concerns over the proposed South Mountain Freeway inevitably surfaced,
residents also queried their councilman on air quality, public transportation
and other concerns facing a community smack in the middle of a booming metro
About two dozen people attended Wednesday night's meeting at the Foothills Golf
Club. After a crime statistics update by community police Officer Barney
Barnhart - violent crimes are down, while property crime rates remain steady -
Stanton opened the floor to discussion about the proposed South Mountain
Several residents expressed concerns over the
plan and asked how the community might fight the planned alignment along Pecos
The Phoenix councilman's reiteration of his position against the Pecos alignment
drew applause from the crowd.
Stanton acknowledged that although calling for a new alignment is "easy for
me to say," actually stopping the plan will take more work. The freeway's
alignment is ultimately a state decision, not a city one, and opposition from
Phoenix alone may not be enough to block the Pecos path.
Stanton also talked about Phoenix's role in planning. He noted the looming,
though still unscheduled, auction of the state land parcel in Ahwatukee known as
the South Mountain 620. Planners have called for 600 to 1,100 homes to be built
on the land south of Chandler Boulevard and between 19th and 27th avenues. Those
new Ahwatukee residents would be among the 1 million new Valley residents
expected to move into homes planned for state trust lands in and around Maricopa
and Pinal counties in coming years, Stanton said.
Getting all those residents from one place to another is going to require some
planning, Stanton said.
The Regional Transportation Plan approved by voters in Proposition 400 in 2004
concentrates only on Maricopa County, Stanton said. It doesn't address the
impact of Pinal County commuters on Maricopa County traffic. The population of
Pinal County is expected to grow from the current 277,000 to 2 million in the
next 20 years.
That expansion makes the need for good transportation planning - including
freeway routes - all the more urgent, Stanton said.
"We have to get (freeways) right. We can't blow it," he said.
The light-rail system, scheduled to begin in 2011, is a decent start, Stanton
said. However, he said that the system will fail if it doesn't connect
residential areas such as Ahwatukee and Chandler to downtown Phoenix.
Residents said that they were worried about aspects of growth beyond traffic.
Eva Willis asked about air pollution, a phenomenon that she said has worsened in
her 46 years in the Valley. She asked how cities are addressing the issue, and
noted that while efforts to improve air quality are costly, the loss of health
and productivity associated with pollution costs money, too.
"At some point, nobody is going to be able to live in the Valley. Not
healthfully, anyway," she said.