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Joyce Clark Unfiltered

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It has been 17 years and 263 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.

At its annual August retreat, the Library Advisory Board supported the concept of a manufactured or modular library building at Heroes Park in the Yucca district (west Glendale). Bless their hearts for their moral compasses were in the right place with their recognition that the Yucca district is sadly lacking in amenities, such as a branch library, found in other areas of the city.

If you have noted at the beginning of every blog I announce how long it’s been since the city promised to build a west branch library in the Yucca district to serve west Glendale. The count as of today is 17 years and 263 days.

I am tamping down my anger at the concept of a glorified trailer as our west branch library. I understand the city is feeling guilt over never having built the west branch library but offeringfoothills a sop to the citizens of west Glendale is, in truth, insulting. Where, oh where, will we put the Dale Chihuly type art? Or the Magic Doors opening into the magical children’s reading room? Foothills library (Cholla district) patrons received a building replete with original art to enjoy during their visits. Oops, I forgot. Foothills Library is in former Mayor Elaine Scruggs’ district. Yucca district seems destined to remain bare bones. After all, that’s always been what the city has decided west Glendale merits. Except. Except… wait for it…an arena “destined “to propel former City Manager Ed Beasley and former Mayor Scruggs into the national limelight.

Otherwise when it comes to the Yucca district the city always falls back on the rationale that “there is no money.” That excuse only comes into play when a major city building for the use and enjoyment of its citizens is proposed for the westside of Glendale. It isn’t a consideration when approval is given to build a $50 million dollar plus parking garage at Westgate to satisfy the demands of the Bidwills.

The lack of amenities for westside Glendale residents is appalling and has been for many years. Of the 58 small and neighborhood parks (10 acres or less) owned by the city only 5 of them are in the Yucca district (the district’s east boundary is 75th Avenue and west boundary includes all incorporated west to Sarival Avenue; Northern Avenue on the north and Camelback Road on the south).

Of those 5 parks, 3 are joint city/school neighborhood parks with limited hours of access during the school year. They are: Desert Mirage Park at 87th Avenue and Maryland Avenue; Discovery Park at 79th Avenue and Maryland Avenue; and Orangewood Vista Park at 79th Avenue and Orangewood Avenue. Two neighborhood parks are entirely city owned: Pasadena Park at 87th Avenue and Pasadena Road and Sycamore Grove Park at 86th Lane and Emil Rovey Parkway.

What about Community Parks of 10 to 80 acres? Don’t look for any, for there are none in the Yucca district; in the only district that has large portions of vacant developable land.

Of the 6 Regional Parks in Glendale there are 2 listed Regional Parks in the Yucca district: the Grand Canal Linear Park and Heroes Park. Let’s take a closer look at both. The Grand Canal Linear Park was built with the city kicking and screaming all the way. It is part of the Maricopa County Flood Control District and the county district paid the lion’s share of its construction. If the County had not initiated the project there would be no linear park.

Heroes Park contains a splash pad, 4 basketball courts and rental ramadas…that’s it. The majority of the land in that park grows a wonderful annual crop of tumbleweeds. Forget the X Court (skateboard facility). It was closed years ago. Gone is the Master Plan that included baseball fields, a dog park, a west branch library, an urban fishing lake and a recreational center. None of those have been acknowledged for years. Look at the proposed temporary archery range. Have you seen it? I haven’t.

If for no other reason, the city should be providing amenities in west Glendale to encourage development in this slow economy. What employer wants to locate in an area where there are few, if any, amenities for its employees who wish to recreate close to where they live and work? An employer, in order to attract top quality employees, relies upon its location within a city and what a city offers in terms of recreational and cultural opportunities to potential employees/residents. The lack of amenities can be the deciding factor between Glendale and any other Valley city.

So what should be done? Build a glorified trailer in Heroes Park? I say no. What makes far

Courtesy City of Glendale

Courtesy City of Glendale

more sense is to utilize the mostly empty Glendale Media Center at Westgate. The first floor contains all of the city’s media facilities and equipment and should remain. But there is the second floor and third floor, underutilized, that could make one heck of a west branch library. It would be sited where it would enhance the existent surrounding development. How about parking you may ask? As for parking, there isn’t adequate parking at Foothills Library and it doesn’t appear to be a detriment. A west branch library facility could use the parking garage at Westgate by offering library patrons vouchers for parking. It is a city owned parking facility run by the Renaissance Hotel but it is our facility and we do set the rules for its use. This library site would require either an enclosed elevator or escalator on the outside of the building thereby removing the need for the general public to access the media facilities located on the first floor as well as preserving as much space as possible for library use. Certainly the  the retrofit would be on par for a “trailer” whose destiny is to morph into an insufficient library.

Libraries of the future will be different from those of the past. A west branch library at the Media Center should be heavy in two areas that reflect that: technology and lots of it (with media equipment on the first floor it seems that its fiber optics would be first rate); and the children’s area. Up to the minute technological access is critical. Libraries are our best and greatest system of introducing books and the habit of reading to our youngest little ones. It is a habit to be encouraged. Childhood literacy is the foundation of a well educated work force.

Then what about Heroes Park? Do we continue to allow it to languish and grow annual crops of tumbleweeds? No. Two major amenities must be built there and not in another 20 years. It is time for the city to commit its resources to this park. One is an Urban Fishing Lake. The other is a Performing Arts Center/Art Gallery/Art Center which would be within easy access of the Loop 101. A performing arts center/art gallery/art center is an amenity that Glendale has sadly lacked for many years. It is an amenity that helps to define the very character of a great city. It is an amenity that fosters “community.” It is an amenity that this council needs to plan for and build…now…not 20 years from now.

We’ve tried turning the city into a sports mecca and failed miserably. Why not focus our time, talents and resources into creating a point of pride that will be useable and available to all of Glendale’s residents? It’s time to turn Heroes Park from a dusty, woe begotten piece of derelict land into a site of cultural vitality for all of the people of Glendale. It’s time, long overdue, to mete out some justice and equity for the people of west Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2015

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On June 12, 2014 Mike Kenny had an opinion piece in the Glendale Star entitled, Ring the alarm – city once again wants you to foot bill. Here is the link: http://www.glendalestar.com/opinion/editorials/ . Generally I do not agree with Mr. Kenny’s stance on many issues but this time I do.

One sentence stood out, This current city administration banks on two things for survival, and they’re both yours: money and apathy.” The current city council simply cannot stop itself from spending money, your money. The latest example of their inability to reign themselves in is the expenditure, one-time and on-going, for an electronic voting system to be used at 24 council meetings a year. Why? Because they want to assure that you are confused as to who might be the deciding vote on any hotly contested issue…and to relieve Councilmember Chavira’s stress level.

What if there’s not enough in the budget to cover their willingness to spend your money? Not a problem. They will just create a new tax or raise an existent tax. Need money to cover the construction debt and annual management fee for the arena of approximately $27 million a year or the construction debt on Camelback Ranch of $18 million a year?No problem. Just make the temporary sales tax increase permanent. Need money to raise employee salaries? No problem. Just create a new annual licensing fee of $20 on your alarm system or make sure Glendale charges the highest fee in the state for driving school as you try to avoid those points on your record.

Why are 4 councilmembers led by the nose by senior management? Simple, it’s the easier way for them because you, the taxpayer in Glendale, never object. It’s called apathy. I can remember when a bunch of us tried to repeal the sales tax on food. Senior management put together a slick piece of propaganda asking citizens to decide what service(s) to cut if the sales tax on food was eliminated. It was a scare tactic and it worked beautifully. Glendale voters bought city rhetoric.

This time we heard the same scare arguments, i.e., half of Glendale’s staff would be terminated; services would continue to be cut. Those arguments only hold true if citizens allow this council to continue to spend beyond the city’s means. If citizens had demanded council adopt a phased plan of $5 million in cuts per year for 5 years there would be no need for the temporary sales tax to become permanent. Instead it was easier for them to accept Finance Director Duensing’s demands that the temporary sales tax be made permanent now…not in 2017 when it was due to sunset…but now.

This council, with the exception of Mayor Jerry Weiers, has adopted a budget that is not balanced as required by state statute. The budget starts with a $2.7 million deficit. But that’s OK according to senior staff. The money can come from $5 million in Contingency. If Phoenix demands a payment of over $3 million this October, that’s OK too…just take it out of Contingency. But wait…there’s not enough in Contingency to cover both obligations. Well, that’s OK too…just take it out of the Unappropriated Fund Balance (just a slick, new name for what is basically another Contingency account). They play games with your money and by now, you are so confused you can’t figure out what is going on.

Because of citizen apathy you, the Glendale taxpayer, will continue to be “nickled and dimed” to death until you have no more nickels and dimes. What many fail to recognize is that it takes so few of you to have an effect on this council’s financial decisions. Because so few citizens object to anything at council meetings when 20 or 30 citizens show up and speak to an issue council’s sensitivity radar kicks into high gear. Yep. That’s all it takes… 20 or 30 speakers to object. Are there 20 or 30 Glendale residents ready to scream, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore?” or will citizen apathy allow this council to spend beyond your means?

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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.

The Glendale City Council meeting of January 14, 2014 has 19 items. A majority of the items are on the Consent Agenda and are ratifications by council of action items such as approval of an action with APS to relocate an overhead line. There are 3 items of special interest: council approval of final dollar amount to Beacon Sports Capital Partners, Inc.; council approval of position reclassifications; and council approval to rent parking spaces from Westgate, LLC.

If you remember, Beacon Sports was hired to prepare an RFP and seek bids for the management of Jobing.com arena. Council originally authorized an unbudgeted amount of $100,000. The final bill came in at $125,425.43. The cost was $25,425.43 over the stated figure. Well, that’s $125,425.43 down the toilet as the responses to the Beacon RFP were ignored as council pursued and accepted the IceArizona bid of $15 million a year to manage the arena. A management amount that is a far cry from the bids proffered to Beacon and ignored.

The Position Reclassification includes council’s acceptance of all of Management Partner’s recommendations most of which will become effective July 1, 2014. Two reclassifications that are effective as of January 15, 2014 (the day after this meeting) are reclassifying a Secretary’s position in Field Operations to Assistant City Manager as well as reclassifying a Senior Budget Analyst in Finance to a Purchasing & Materials Manager. If you recall, council approval of reclassification allows the Human Resources Director to reclassify nearly every position in the organization. The Director’s decisions are final and not appealable or grievable.

Did you know that the city will be renting parking spaces at Westgate for the Super Bowl? Well, we are this time around. This is to fulfill the city’s obligation to provide 6,000 parking spaces within the Westgate area. Spaces east of 93rd Avenue and west of 95th Avenue go for $20 a pop. Prime parking spaces between 93rd and 95th Avenues go for $30 each. Total cost for parking spaces for the Super Bowl will be between $34,721.72 and $52,082.58. The rental tax is 3.4% and it is unclear whether it is included in the figures presented.

Not bad for a night’s work. Council paid over $125,000 for nothing, took away some employee’s appeal and grievance rights and will spend between $35,000 and $55,000 to fulfill its contractual parking for the Super Bowl. It’s enough to make you scratch your head and say, “Say what??”

© Joyce Clark, 2014

FAIR USE NOTICE

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which is in accordance with Title 17 U.S. C., Section 107. The 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 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 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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