Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

I haven’t written for awhile simply because being a Glendale City councilmember is more complicated and busier than ever. It takes a minimum of 3 hours and often days to write, edit and publish one blog.  I miss writing and I need to make a concerted effort to carve out the time to do so. Be that as it may, there are many events of which to make note.  Most are not enough for a full blog on their own but should be recognized.

Arguably, the most important recent event is the Grand Opening of Heroes Regional Park Lake. While the celebration was occurring, people were already catching fish. About 100 residents came to the ceremony and many expressed their gratitude to see this wonderful addition to the park. Next up will be to get some sports fields constructed followed by the biggest, most expensive ticket item, the Recreation & Aquatics Center.

Inflation is killing all of us, including cities. Yesterday I filled up my car to the tune of $56. Before Biden that same tank of gas cost me about $25 or $30. My weekly grocery bill has increased by about 40%. Then there are supply chain issues. My local Safeway has had bare shelves, especially in the pasta and chicken sections. They haven’t had any chicken for the past 10 days.

This situation is rough on people on a fixed income, like me and obviously on the poor. From what we all hear it will continue throughout 2022 and we can expect prices to go even higher. The same holds true for cities. For instance, Glendale uses a lot of chemicals to treat its water supply. Those same chemical prices have risen about 30%. This same scenario goes for everything from copy paper, cleaning supplies to vehicle parts and maintenance. While Glendale is earning more revenue than ever before it is paying higher prices than ever before.

Development in the Loop 303 area continues to boom. Several new projects have been announced and there continues to be more in the pipeline. The industry has recognized that Glendale’s “New Frontier” is an established job corridor in the Valley.

Westgate continues to thrive with new development as well. After some internal delays on the part of the developer, Tiger Woods’ Pop Stoke will begin construction any day and is slated to be completed this fall. To the east of the AMC theater, a pickle ball complex complete with a restaurant and bar and rental facilities, ala Top Golf, is slated to start construction in the near future and is expected to be open prior to the Super Bowl. The Thirsty Lion, a 2-story restaurant and bar, situated between the arena and the Renaissance Hotel, is about to start construction as well. A new concept restaurant, exclusively serving some of the most decadent desserts you can possibly imagine, will take the place of the Saddle Ranch Chop House.

Let’s not forget the Crystal Lagoon Island Resort development. I continue to believe it is the most significant development ever to occur within Glendale. It is a mini-Disneyland without the $100+ a day charge per person to enter. Expect about 12 million visitors a year. It will contribute nearly $10M a year in sales tax revenue to Glendale. I expect it to draw visitors not just from the state or the southwest but nationally and even internationally. It’s a Saturday and I just checked their live camera. Earth moving equipment is busy today and the large crane was in use. If you would like to check it out, use this site: https://app.truelook.cloud/dashboard/553/923/live?code=15hm7ev0xey9jmgpfyf2jd9e0&fbclid=IwAR2VhkoN56nBnnmqMouCzAWFM9BHxtvSmNlj83REtd_D2fuA3g9vdeZ-SAY

One of the city services most loved by residents is sanitation. Recently our City Manager related that 44% of the sanitation drivers were out with Covid. Sanitation division managers and employees from other departments stepped up to fill the void resulting in no disruption in your service. Your trash was collected as usual and I bet you had no idea that Covid was crippling the department’s ability to service you. Yet I recently read that the same kind of situation occurred in Tempe resulting in a disruption of pick-up service for about a week. Two cities, two different ways to handle the problem.

At our next council voting meeting I will vote to approve a rate increase in sanitation. Sanitation is run by Michelle Woytenko, Director of Field Operations. Ms. Woytenko is one of the best Directors in the city of Glendale. She is no nonsense and provides excellent information and service to every resident. Our office has contacted her to report a citizen’s trash pick-up being missed and Ms. Woytenko will have someone picking it up the same day. Her explanation for a rate increase was logical and persuasive.

Speaking of money, in February the city council begins its annual budget oversight and preparation for the next fiscal year. We will begin with the Capital Improvement Program. This is the portion of the budget that lays out what infrastructure the city will build, rehabilitate, improve, or maintain for the next 5 years. It is one of the most important segments of the city budgetary process.

The city has completed its redistricting process and submitted its plan to the state and the feds for final approval. As of now, unless something dramatic occurs, the new city council boundaries are set not only for the next election in November of 2022 but for the next ten years until the next census.

There has been minimal accommodation for the tremendous growth occurring in the Yucca district. Instead of creating all districts with a population of about 41,000 the Yucca district will start with a population of 39,000. However, I contended that the accommodation is insufficient. I anticipate an additional 14,000 moving into the Yucca district in the next few years. I anticipate a population in the Yucca district of about 55,000. The Yucca district is the ‘gorilla’ of Glendale’s districts. It is the largest geographically; it accounts for about 80% of all recent and current economic development within the city; and will soon have the greatest population of all the districts. Much of the new population can be attributed to Stonehaven, a residential development between Camelback and Bethany, 83rd to 91st Avenues. At build-out it will contain 1,365 new homes. Another factor is the multitude of apartment complexes in the Westgate area. Westgate needs a mass of people living there to support all its retail and restaurants.

The eastern boundary between the Yucca and Ocotillo districts has changed. From Northern Avenue to Orangewood Avenue the boundary is 75th Avenue. The east side of 75th is in the Ocotillo District and the west side is in the Yucca district. At Orangewood Ave to Glendale Avenue the boundary is 71st Avenue. From Glendale Avenue to Bethany Home Road the boundary is 75th Avenue. Note that Independence Heights subdivision is now in the Ocotillo district. From Bethany Home Road to Camelback Road the boundary is 67th Avenue. Here is a map that shows the dividing lines between the Yucca district and the Ocotillo district:

Council is moving forward on remodeling the City Hall complex. It demonstrates our commitment to downtown Glendale. The exterior look of the buildings will be updated. The parking garage, long in need of major repairs, will be rehabilitated. The concept of offering free, live entertainment year round at the city amphitheater will continue in a newly reconfigured and updated area. Murphy Park will receive an update as well.

You may have noticed that I am the only councilmember to consistently vote ‘no’ on the city’s awarding of 5-year contracts to vendors of services and supplies. I do so for several reasons. A 5-year contract is longer than a city council term of office which is 4 years. That results in no continuity of oversight by the council. If a new councilmember comes in there is no knowledge of the existing contract or its terms or pricing. In addition, the contracts are often for ordinary goods or services and 5-year contracts for those items do not create a competitive atmosphere. Some say a 5-year contract is good because it locks in prices for 5 years even during inflationary periods such as now. Not so, quite a few contracts have come before us lately as amended seeking our approval for an increase. In all cases, the vendors are asking for increases to cover inflationary costs. So a 5-year contract does not lock in prices during the term of the contract. In addition, the same vendor who asked for a price increase, if prices decline, never, ever, comes back to offer the city an adjusted lower cost to reflect that decline. It’s all one way and always higher. I believe contracts should be no longer than 3 years and then put out for bid again.

Lastly, a few thoughts about the city owned Gila River Arena and the Coyotes. The city was not bluffing or positioning itself for a better lease deal with the Coyotes when it terminated the lease agreement. The city council has approved a contract with HKO to rehabilitate the arena. Deliberately moving from a sports venue to an entertainment venue requires a venue that is comfortable and welcoming to its attendees. After years of flaky ownership – Ellman, Moyes, LeBlanc, Barroway, etc., a consistently losing team and financial difficulties, it’s fair to say enough is enough. We wish the Coyotes well and harbor no ill will. It’s up to the Tempe city council to decide if they can do better. I would simply ask them to consider these questions: Does each member of the council believe there is a bond of trust between themselves and the current ownership group? Has Tempe’s staff done its due diligence, and can it demonstrate that the ownership group has the finances to invest into such a project? Will the ownership want financial contributions from the city of Tempe and does the city have the bond capacity for such a project? In an election year how will Tempe residents react to any deal that requires the city to spend taxpayer dollars for another sports arena in the Valley?

This new year will be interesting to say the least. Glendale is in the strongest financial position it has had for years. We will weather this inflationary period and come out on the other side, stronger and more resilient. We have the funds to expend on one-time projects that will benefit our citizens and create a better, more vibrant Glendale.

© Joyce Clark, 2022      


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