Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eminent Domain: Playing with Fire

Councilmember Dennis Kavanaugh has asked city staffers to look into the use of eminent domain to locate a new police station on the blighted corner of Southern and Alma School, which was the old "Fiesta Village." Obviously, as the representative of the Fiesta District area, this piece of property is one of the biggest issues that Kavanaugh has to contend with, but putting eminent domain back into play is a risky venture.

On one hand, he wants to use it for a police station. People generally like having law enforcement close to home, and it would win hands down over an abandoned lot. However, the devil, as they say, is in the details. Kavanaugh admits that Mesa wouldn't need the whole 15 acres for a police station. In fact, he says, "Some of it would be better suited for private commercial development."

So the question is, would Mesa take all 15 acres and then give some of it to some other developer to use? If so, isn't that exactly what got them in hot water with the Bailey's Brake Shop case in the first place? Taking land away from one land owner and giving it to another is still not a popular notion. Next time you take a trip to downtown Mesa, if you need a reminder, stop by and look at Bailey's Shop still standing, surrounded by a fence and empty land that Mesa owns.

It is absolutely appropriate for Kavanaugh to want something done on that vacant corner, but he shouldn't risk the goodwill built up by this new council in the process. Bailey's Brake Shop and the negative national attention was the beginning of the end for the last council as they slowed grinded to a halt, nearly petrified to try anything.

The Mayor and council shouldn't mistake this newfound ability to work together as a mandate to do whatever they want. They have achieved success through thoughful decision making, and they would do right by sticking to that course.

1 comment:

Heath Reed said...

Dennis, your going too far. Put a police station at Alma school and Southern is a horrible idea. If you want to create this urban and “vibrant” district, why in the heck would you place a police station at a vital corner? The city should not touch this and it shows how out of touch this guy is at times with reality and great ideas. He has been looking for a police station in this area for a while. Sorry, more police is not going to change this area. Reinvestment and redevelopment is going to change it. People my friend change an area, not more cops. If the city moves forward with this, it will be a terrible idea.

That $280,000 fiesta district study will be all for nothing and more wasted money by the city.