Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wilson and Walters announced Mesa Man and Woman of the Year

No matter how large Mesa grows, one of the time honored traditions that helps this city maintain some of its small town roots is the annual announcement of a Mesa Man and Woman of the Year. This year Dr. Ralph V. Wilson and former Vice-Mayor Claudia Walters will receive the honors.

Wilson is a long-time surgeon that served Mesa and throughout the world. Walters is a longtime community and education public servant who served on the Mesa City Council for 8 years. Take the time to read more about their accomplishments from the article and learn more about the Man and Woman of the year program from their website.

More on Fiesta District fire station

The discussion continues on the Fiesta District fire station. It turns out that they originally started with 10 locations for this station before bringing it down to two. The owner of the NW corner of Extension and Grove wants above appraisal, while the owner of the Fiesta site is willing to go for less.

It does have many of the desired specifications including access to two roadways (preferable), visibility to the community, and contributing to the revitalization of surrounding area. However, they were looking for 5-7 acres, and this site is a little over 9 acres. The question remains, what are they going to do with the rest of the space?

On December 12, they held a public forum to get some feedback. Someone sent us the feedback summary, which we will share:

1. As a taxpayer, this is the time to purchase property. As a resident in the community, I think a more high profile location would be a help in deterring crime and revitalize an area. Perfect. Good job! It’s good when the government gets something right. (Send the $4 million stimulus money back.)

2. Mr. Kavanaugh and council need to make a better effort to get the corners of the strip mall at Southern and Alma School to sell. This is a prime location.

3. Sounds like a good location as a barrier to box in the riff-raff along Emerald Road. But it is expensive!

4. Like the new site – increased visibility at reasonable cost and expansion potential.

5. Yes; quick, fast, and in a hurry.

6. I support the plan.

7. As a residence of Dobson Ranch, I strongly support the proposed site. Build it!

8. I might have hoped that the City - or anyone - might do something – anything – with the property at Southern and Alma School. As a close second, the Longmore and Southern property seems an excellent choice. Let’s do it.

9. Good location choice – use of existing land in an area that needs redevelopment support. Support south of freeway needs to continue at appropriate levels.

10. Understanding better about the timing of purchasing property at lower prices than before, and knowing that patrolling in “Dobson Ranch” won’t diminish, I personally feel better about the location.

11. Great idea. Eleven in our cul-de-sac want it here.

12. Yes! For this site – sounds good

13. City Engineer did a great job presenting the project!

14. Good idea and great location.

15. I fully support this project for the area. I think it would help to fill some empty retail square footage with a new use, which will help the area considerably.

16. I think this is a great site. It takes care of two very important issues. It will renovate the vacant strip mall and keep the police station in the Fiesta District. I am in favor of a more visitor friendly police station. Thank you for your presentation and all of your hard work.

17. Good presentation. Looks like a good choice. Should incorporate community room. Should go through design review process.

18. I fully support the plan to move the Dobson Substation to the Longmore location. Let’s do it!

Despite some concerns about cost, not surprisingly, there appears to be a high level support from the surrounding area. The key appears to be the element of redevelopment and the impact that it will have.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Are you ready for Twitter Friday @MesaIssues?

We know it has been a quiet week at Mesa Issues, but you know how the Holiday Season gets. However, we always try to make time for twitter friday. Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, and all things Mesa even in a quiet week.

Join the conversation! Let us know what you're thinking. Look for us at our twitter page @MesaIssues. Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

More Jobs for Mesa

A new steel plant has opened in Mesa, and with it comes another 145 new jobs. In fact, 50 more jobs will open in April when their fabrication plan comes online. Mayor Smith posted several pictures from the groundbreaking on his twitter yesterday.

At this point all new jobs are good jobs, but it is nice to note that these jobs are "green" since the primary function of this plant is to convert scrap metal into rebar. As they said, this is yet another piece of the puzzle for developing the Gateway area and hopefully it can attract other manufacturing to the area.

Mesa and Gilbert working together

After years of being ruled by Mayors who didn't focus on anything beyond the walls of their respective cities, the Mesa and Gilbert Councils are meeting to talk about how they can work together on joint interests such as ASU Poly, Gateway, and Power Road. What a concept!

Credit goes to Mayor Smith and Mayor Lewis for putting aside any of the issues of the past and deciding that it would be better to work together on some of these regionally significant projects instead of working against each one another. Returning to a more Statesmanlike approach to economic development and policy is a breath of fresh air for both cities and something that other people from across the state could learn from.

There are a lot of exciting things going on in both Mesa and Gilbert, and as we have said before, we would be more than willing to help get a "Gilbert Issues" effort off the ground, but it would have to be a collaborative effort.

Fiesta District News

Some interesting news for the Fiesta District. First, ASU students used the area as a "real life" project for a school planning exercise. Their idea was a pedestrian friendly paseo concept with an attraction like the Riverwalk in San Antonio. We have received similar free advice before, now the question is if anything can be done about it.

One thing that may be in the works is locating a new Fire station within the district. Two councilmembers are at odds over a plan for Mesa to purchase the shopping center at Southern and Longmore that once housed the Bed Bath and Beyond, Circuit City and others. Kavanaugh is advocating for the Fiesta location while Finter wants the Council to consider locating the station at Powell Junior High whose future is uncertain.

The Fiesta site is more centrally located and on two larger roads, but the question is, what would the city do with the rest of the land? Would Mesa hold on to it, or would they try to sell the rest of it off? Is the city getting a good price in this current real estate climate? If they do end up choosing that location, they should do what they can to show how they have reduced costs.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Twitter Friday @MesaIssues

If you can believe it, this is our 900th post. Interestingly enough, it just so happens to be about our regular Twitter Friday routine. Talk about bringing blogging and twitter technology together! Get ready for our weekly recap, post of the week, and all things Mesa. We'll also feature a Post of the Month recap from November as well. Check out our twitter page @MesaIssues.

Check us out at http://twitter.com/mesaissues. We would always appreciate a follow!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

433 Miles from Naples

Keep the Cubs has a very keen observation about the Cubs' latest visit to Florida. The Ricketts family finally met with the Governor of Florida, but they had to fly 433 miles from Naples to do so. Maybe they really did want to feel what it would be like for the Cubbies to train in Florida.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona, all of the Spring Training teams are in the valley and are no more than about an hour away. Can Florida claim that? No.

As we mentioned yesterday, everything in the Cubs video could be seen in less time than it would take for the Cubs to travel from one stadium to the next. Is there any question why so many Cubs players and fans have retired in Arizona over the years? Better weather, more convenience, and better golf. Add in the fact that we have BOTH palm trees and cactus, Mesa wins big time. If they really want the beach, perhaps they should call up the guys at Waveyard and offer to lend a hand.

Guerrero Elementary spared - others remain in the balance

The major headline from last night's community meeting is that Guerrero Elementary will not be closing afterall. However, Frost, Alma, Powell, and Hendrix (all west Mesa schools), are still facing closure to be converted into other types of educational facilities.

It looks as if Frost and Hendrix will likely be part of the International Baccalaureate program. As discussed before, Alma Elementary looks to be converted into a Franklin School. This leaves only Powell Junior High facing a major change in its purpose. The new plan for Powell is to offer community programs, credit-recovery programs, community healthcare and even community college programs. No word yet which school local junior high students would be transferred to.

As we have mentioned before, the district will face the challenge of the "local school" mentality. Redrawing boundaries may leave some students miles away from their closest school that offers the programs that they want. This will work for the students with parents that can drive them to school, but what about the students that have walked or taken the bus in the past? MPS just saved millions with their revised bus routes and schedules, but no word on how the school restrutcturing would change these costs.

In the end, however, it is important to remember that MPS appears to be doing everything they can to remain competitive in offering quality education in the face of a $60 million financial shortfall. These changes have the potential to create long term education improvements for our students and make them even more competitive in the workplace. However, these changes are not without their price, and some parents are going to be resistent to change.

Everyone should remember that they have a voice in this process and they can make comments at www2.mpsaz.org/future.

Paz De Cristo still feeding the homeless

Back in August, we talked about Paz De Cristo facing trouble because St. Timothy's Catholic Church pulled their funding. Remarkably, they are still hanging on, feeding the homeless despite their financial struggles.

Even with less money, the shelter is expecting to serve 78,000 evening meals this year, up 6,500 meals from a year ago. They have been blessed to continue to receive donations and support from the community, although they have made up less than half of their financial shortfall.

It is also important to note that despite lowering their funding, St. Timothy's Church owns the buildings and the vehicles which they rent for only a small fee. The church remains a major force in keeping the center open, not only with their generosity, but with their volunteers.

As we have said before, the economy isn't making it easy for anyone right now, but if you are reading this post, it's more than likely, you are doing better than the people who need Paz de Cristo. So, if you want to help, especially during this holiday season, you can click here to donate to the shelter, or contact them for more information.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Reports welcome from MPS community meeting

Sorry for the late notice, but the MPS community meeting on the potential changes, including closing five schools is tonight. If you are going to the event, please share a report of how you think it went and your overall thoughts from the scene. These are the type of events that often tend to be over or underexaggerated depending on the reporter.

Mesa's Video Presentation to the Cubs

Keep the Cubs has been doing a great job staying on top of all the Cubs related issues. Earlier today, they posted a link to the video from Mesa, which turned out to be the promo video they used during their reception with the new ownership. Here it is:

Very cool. It does a great job of talking about not only Mesa's character, but the features of the entire valley as well as the state. One thing to note is that pretty much everything shown in that picture could be seen in significantly less time than it would take to drive from one ballpark to another in Florida.

Also, in case you were wondering, sponsors, not taxpayers are footing the bill for the reception last month.