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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

For "the rest of the story"

On Monday, November 14, 2016, the Glendale city council approved a Settlement Agreement with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Arizona Cardinals. Here is the link to the background material on the proposal: https://glendale-az.legistar.com/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2881276&GUID=C07EFD4F-664C-4A92-98FF-A23BF1C88B39&Options=&Search=&FullText=1 . Here is the link to the Settlement Agreement in full: final-settlement-agreement-11102016 .

The major points of the settlement are:

·       It settles an outstanding legal claim of $67 million dollars in damages initiated in 2012 by the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and the Cardinals by paying them jointly $14 million over the next 5 years.

·       It creates $3 million dollars of infrastructure to enable pedestrians to cross Bethany Home Road without impeding the traffic on Bethany Home.

·       It includes construction of 95th Avenue from Bethany to Camelback Road at a cost of $3 million.

If I were on city council I would have approved the settlement. Let’s look at it point by point. I want to make clear since my election was not funded by special interests, my prime directive, based on being fully informed of the pros and cons, is to make the best possible decisions that I believe are in the city’s best interests. This would have been one of them.

Over the weekend, I downloaded the entire proposed 135 page settlement agreement, read it, made notations, and then was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to sit down with the City Manager to get any and all of my questions answered. The current councilmembers have had the luxury of discussion and information about settlement negotiations for the past two months.

At first I was angry thinking here we go again, paying millions more to support sports in our town. Are we nuts? After I calmed down, I started to really think about it. Yes, we could reject the settlement and the $67 million dollar claim would have wended its way through the court system….for a year? two years? There is, of course, no way of predicting the outcome but I will say the city’s track record of late, has not been one to inspire confidence in a city win. If the city had lost, it would have had to pay out $67 million plus not just its attorneys’ fees but the claimants’ attorneys’ fees as well.

It’s also a matter of doing the right thing. The city had the obligation to live up to its contractual agreement of providing 11,000 parking spaces, per the Parking License Agreement and other documents from 2005, over a decade ago.

The $14 million in damages is, of course, an onerous pill to swallow but it’s better than $67 million. It is my understanding that this $14 million will be used for upgrades at the Stadium Plaza and the stadium interior. The city was also able to structure payments over the next five years making it fiscally manageable. The city is no longer obligated to construct a $50 million dollar parking garage… ever. This agreement settles all parking claims forever.

Why is an underpass under Bethany Home Road and bridges over the SRP Canal and the Grand Canal Linear Park necessary? When the stadium and transportation infrastructure was originally built the intent was to drive vehicular traffic from the west and the north toward the stadium. However, when the city has completed both parking lots (one east of the stadium and one south of the stadium), masses of pedestrians will be crossing Bethany Home Road. If they proceeded on the surface street, Bethany Home Road, the pedestrian traffic would essentially block all vehicular traffic. Now that a major portion of fans (6,000 parking spaces) will be parking south and east of the stadium it becomes a necessity.

Lastly, let’s look at 95th Avenue. Another city promise broken for over a decade. This arterial opens up land for commercial development, especially on the west side of 95th Avenue between Camelback Road and Bethany Home Road. There will be new commercial properties locating along that arterial which, in turn, will generate more sales tax revenue for the city. It also puts to rest the alignment of 95th Avenue. It will now curve away from the Pendergast Estates neighborhood and will not connect to the neighborhood’s three interior streets of Missouri, Marshall and San Juan. For years as councilmember I advocated for just such a solution for this neighborhood. I am pleased to know the city has taken their concerns seriously and has devised an alignment to protect this neighborhood.

These reasons persuaded me that approval of the Settlement was the right thing to do: 1. fulfillment of the city’s long-standing contractual obligation; 2. avoidance of a possible $67 million dollar verdict; 3. mitigating pedestrian movement as a result of the installation of two new, massive parking lots; and 3. bringing closure and surety on the 95th Avenue alignment to the Pendergast Estates neighborhood.

What was city council’s decision? Mayor Weiers, Vice Mayor Hugh, Councilmembers Malnar and Tolmachoff voted in favor of the settlement. All councilmembers spoke before casting their votes and this majority of four recited variations of the reasons cited above. Councilmembers Turner, Aldama and Chavira voted against the settlement. They did not cite flaws in the settlement as their reason for disapproval. Why? Because even they know this settlement is acceptable. No, they used the theme of transparency and that the public was not given enough time to weigh in. It was, in all probability, a smoke screen so that they would have time to marshal their activist anti-settlement forces to march on down to council chambers.

While these three councilmembers  professed that they wanted to strengthen their relationships with the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority and the Cardinals, it had been circulated that Aldama and Turner refused to meet with AZSTA and Cardinal representatives. Instead they gave both organizations the back of their hands. Surprisingly, disgraced and recalled former Councilmember Gary Sherwood showed up to berate this council for lacking transparency while asking for more time for council’s consideration. It seems that he did not consider two months of negotiation to be enough. Rampant conjecture is that three of them (Turner, Aldama and Sherwood) are using issues such as this to raise their level of visibility in order to position themselves for a run for mayor four years from now.

I do see a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. It’s time to bury the past. The city manager and a majority of the council are to be congratulated for having made decisions that are designed to position Glendale forward and to clean up Glendale’s sports deals with its decade-old refusals to live up to its commitments. Make no mistake, former City Manager Ed Beasley and former Mayor Scruggs were very much aware of these obligations and refused to make good on them. Minority councilmembers such as me and Councilmember Lieberman were simply not privy to their inaction.

With the announcement of the Coyotes entrance into negotiations for an arena in the east valley I think it is time to do another blog on what this might mean. Look for my next blog which will be devoted to this topic.

© Joyce Clark, 2016        

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

It has been 18 years and 109 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

HeroesParkbutton

Prior to the first Cardinals football game held at the University of Phoenix stadium as your Yucca district councilmember I insisted that senior management create a “Neighborhood Protection Plan” for neighborhoods adjacent to the stadium. I, and the residents, worried about game day parking on neighborhood streets and cut through traffic to get to or to leave the stadium. Such a plan was created and implemented. Many of you in adjacent neighborhoods may remember the Resident Placards distributed to every household adjacent to the stadium. After years of attendance most of the fans have been trained and do not park in neighborhoods or cut through them anymore. Barricades at the entrance to adjacent neighborhoods are still used on game days just to remind fans to park elsewhere.

This time the city has created its own parking mess, not adjacent to the stadium but rather in neighborhoods adjacent to Heroes Park, located at the northeast corner of 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road.

Despite the lack of amenities at the park for there are only a few basketball courts, a splash pad, a tot lot and ramadas, the park is still heavily used and loved, especially on weekends. So, what’s the problem?

There are not enough parking spaces at the park. As a result, people park in the dirt along the periphery of the park, especially along 83rd Avenue.

The city, in its wisdom, decided this would never do. Instead of creating more parking spaces, direction was given to park rangers to tell people that such parking was prohibited and they would have to move their vehicles or suffer their vehicle being towed away.

Where did the park rangers tell people to park? They told people to park in an adjacent neighborhood on the south side of Bethany Home Road. Last weekend over 75 vehicles parked in that neighborhood. There were so many cars that neighbors came out of their homes to see what was going on while seeking an explanation for all of the cars lining their streets.

To make matters worse, the city has created a major safety issue. Park visitors often with children in tow, having parked in the neighborhood, now have to cross a major arterial street, Bethany Home Road, to get to the park. Bethany Home Road has a lot of traffic at all times of

Street identification signs

Street identification signs

day and night. Vehicles traveling eastward approach the pedestrian crossing area from a hill with a curve providing no sight line to see pedestrians. There is no signage, no crosswalk, and no markings for vehicular traffic warning of heavy pedestrian crossings. Quite frankly, it is just a matter of time before a pedestrian is injured or killed trying to cross Bethany Home Road to get to the park.

What was the city thinking? The city has a policy that does not allow Cardinals game day parking in adjacent neighborhoods yet now is directing park patrons to park in an adjacent neighborhood? Why?

Instead of creating a permanent solution by developing, at the very least, temporary parking

Southwest Heroes Park

Southwest Heroes Park

spaces on 60 acres of unused dirt and weed-filled Heroes park property, it directs park patrons to park in a neighborhood? Is it because, once again, a problem at this park in west Glendale is not a priority? It is ironic that the city could throw $32 million at its Cardinals parking problem but appears to have neither the motivation nor the money to fix a relatively minor parking issue.  Is it a reflection of the city’s reluctance to spend any money on infrastructure improvements in west Glendale? Or was it through sheer incompetence that such a wacky solution was created? If this situation occurred in north Glendale it would last about 30 nanoseconds.

Where is Councilman Chavira? He had been told of the problem by local residents. Why hasn’t he demanded that this parking problem and safety issue be solved? Once again, we have an invisible councilmember who is not listening to his district residents much less advocating for an immediate remedy. Our district deserves better representation than it has received from Sammy Chavira during his term of service. Oh wait, Sammy doesn’t appear to serve his community interests…only his own. Is it because there isn’t any money to be made for Sammy in creating a parking solution?

Glendale…fix the parking problem you created.

© Joyce Clark, 2016

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law and who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democratic, scientific and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such material. For more information go to http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use,’ you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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