Following City Council’s direction to honor the city’s longest-tenured City Manager Dick McComb (1990 – 2000), the city will officially rename Surprise Farms Community Park, to Dick McComb City Park, at a public ceremony, Saturday, September 30, at 9 a.m.
The event takes place at the southeast corner of 175th Avenue and Surprise Farms Loop South. The park features a playground, splash pad, basketball court, skate park, restrooms and other park amenities.
McComb began his city government career in 1976 and became City Manager for the City of Surprise in 1990. During McComb’s tenure the city’s population grew from 7,122 people to nearly 31,000. This was a period of commercial growth for Surprise with Surprise Towne Center then under development and the Target opened at Surprise Marketplace.
Another big change was the evolution of policing in Surprise under McComb’s leadership. The Surprise Marshal’s Office evolved into the Surprise Police Department in November 1991, following McComb’s 1990 hiring of Garvin Arrell as the new Police Chief.
McComb served in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War.
Following his retirement McComb remained an engaged Surprise resident. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 81.
For more information on the event please call Community and Recreation Services at 623.222.2000.
A big shout out to all the residents in District 1 and the entire beautiful city we call Surprise. July was a very busy month for me despite the fact that there were no city council meetings and many staff members travelled to cooler places for vacation. Some of us are die-hard Arizonians, and we tough it out and stay here!
Valley Metro paratransit changes went into effect on July 1. For many of our residents, they encountered significant problems with the roll out of the new RideChoice program and the paratransit portion delivered by Transdev. Valley Metro RideChoice provides taxi service at a deeply discounted rate to qualified seniors and people with disabilities in participating communities, including Surprise. I discussed the changes in my newsletter last month. There were many problems with both programs, and some of the problems remain a month later, although there has been some progress.
There are some things to remember if you are utilizing either program. First and foremost, these are two separate distinct programs. The RideChoice program, for local rides, and the paratransit part is for regional rides outside of Surprise; however, these rides are restricted for work or medical trips. The phone number to book your ride for paratransit service is (602)716-2200. For the RideChoice program, you can call one of the participating providers directly to schedule your transportation needs. For more information on the program or for the providers, please visit http://www.valleymetro.org/accessibility/other_travel_options.
I have not heard that many complaints regarding the paratransit program in the last week or so compared to the first three weeks in July. I have had only one firsthand experience with Transdev and have had no complaints. The RideChoice part is a different story, as there have been complaints about AAA and Discount Cab arriving late, or not even showing up at all. Now, you folks have received your RideChoice card from MJM (the company in Baltimore, Maryland that is servicing the Ride Choice Program), you also received a brochure with a list of cab companies that are willing to be a part of the program; however, you may want to disregard most of them because I called each company myself and every one of them except AAA (which is also known as Yellow Cab) and Discount Cab said they are not involved in the project any longer, will not travel to Surprise, or it will take them too long to get to Surprise. I do not know where MJM gets the names of these cab companies, but it is obvious that they were not in touch with those providers.
Now, just two final thoughts before I move on, if you need to have your receipts as a record of your medical trips and you choose Discount Cab, you should make a copy of the receipt after you receive it from the driver because the ink will fade and after a couple of days it will be gone. One thing to remember is if you choose AAA or Discount Cab for your ride and the fare exceeds $21, you will be required to pay the difference as costs greater than $21 are paid by the participant. Watch the meter! For example, when you pay your initial $3 for your ride within the City of Surprise, it could end up costing a total of $10 to $12 because there are a number of rides that can be a total of $28 to $29 dollars according to the meter. So your original fare of $3+$7 or $8= $10 or $11, so if you find that for your ride that continuously is over $21, I suggest you call the Paratransit phone number if your trip is for medical or work, because that ride will cost you $4 no matter where you go. Both programs I mentioned are still being looked at for improvements, especially RideChoice. I apologize in advance for any confusion. Remember to call for a ride and confirm the day before your scheduled pick-up.
On July 1, I attended a ribbon cutting for our newest restaurant called “Casa De Papa” (13761 W. Bell Rd.). Angel Rivera and his father Pedro own it. If you like authentic Mexican food, this is the place to go.
I hope everyone got to the stadium on the Fourth of July for baseball and the great firework display. Thanks to Community and Recreation Services (CRS) department for a great job. For those who have not heard, Donna Miller has been promoted to Director of CRS. Congratulations, Donna! I am sure you will do a great job for the city, and more importantly the residents of Surprise.
I spent the evening of July 12 at a Citizen Outreach meeting at the Comfort Inn. The project is Rio Ranch Estates, which is located in District 1 in our northwest area of the city along Happy Valley Road, approximately ½ mile west of Grand Avenue. The applicant is requesting approval of a rezone of approximately 188 acres of land.
On Monday July 24, I scheduled a meeting with representatives from Transdev to discuss resolution for some of the problems with their new paratransit transportation system. Attendees included Kate Riley and Katrina Heineking from Transdev, Rob Antoniak with Valley Metro, and David Kohlbeck and Jodi Tas from the city. On the first day of service (July 1), Transdev was not prepared for the transition from Dial-a-Ride to the new program. It was clear they were overwhelmed with the demand. Transdev relayed their apologies and I can appreciate that, but they need to make real progression being on time for their pickups, or we cannot rely on them. My firsthand experience has been a mixed bag; they were on time for a meeting I had in Phoenix both days, but Saturday July 29, I waited an hour and 15 minutes for my return trip to Surprise. I do not believe that is a good way to operate a business.
I attended Northwest Valley Connect Transportation Stakeholders meeting on Thursday, July 27. Kate Riley from Transdev was present to explain what steps need to be taken to improve Transdev and reliability, so let us hope things get better.
I attended the Project Connect event at Salvation Army in Surprise on Wednesday, July 26. They city’s Human Service and Community Vitality Department partnered with the Salvation Army and United Way to provide services for the homeless. Senator Debbie Lesko was there to thank all of the volunteers for their many hours of service. Volunteers were assigned a homeless person or family upon their arrival to guide them through the process to receive housing, food, clothing, or anything else they may need. There were a number of Surprise employees who also volunteered, including some of our summer youth interns. There were more than 350 volunteers and 216 guests. It was a very sobering event to see how fortunate most of us are.
After a month off, my monthly meetings will begin again. Please don’t forget the meeting this month will be held on Friday, August 11 at 7pm in the Retreat Community Center at Arizona Traditions (18250 W. Weatherby Dr.). Upon arrival, you will see a gate and you will need to enter “0000” on the key pad and tell the guard you are here for my meeting. I would like to thank Neil and his team for the use of his space. I hope to see you there and hear your input, concerns, complaints, or to talk about your vacation. We also accept compliments. City Planner Joshua Mike will also be at the meeting to talk about the Arts & Cultural Master Plan the city is currently working on.
Enjoy the rest of your summer in our beautiful city. Please remember be good to yourself and be good to each other.
I hope the residents in District 1 and all the folks in our beautiful city are managing to tolerate the heat and stay cool and hydrated. Thankfully, we will cool down in a few months! June was a very eventful month.
On Sunday, June 4, I spent three hours at Happy Trails learning how to perform CPR, in particular using the Automatic Electronic Defibrillator (AED). The AED is a great device that can help keep a person alive until the EMTs arrive. If you have a chance to take those classes, I would strongly encourage you to do so.
I hosted my monthly meeting at Arizona Traditions Retreat Community Center on the evening of Friday, June 9 with a good crowd and a lot of conversations about new construction in the western part of Surprise, especially along Bell Pointe and outside the gate to Arizona Traditions on parcel 14. This development is called Bell Pointe II. It will fill the empty areas of the original Bell Pointe.
Goodyear City Council hosted an inaugural ceremony on Monday, June 12. I attended the ceremony along with relatives, friends and residents of Goodyear and watched the wonderful celebration as three incumbents and one new City Council Member took their Oath of Office. Mayor Georgia Lord, Council Members Wally Campbell and Joe Pizzillo were reelected in January and new City Council Member Brannon Hampton won his first term in a May run-off election.
The Community and Recreation Services Department (CRS) completed the last step of the accreditation process through the Commission of Accreditation of Parks and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). The department had been working towards the accreditation for the past year. Council Members and staff were invited to meet the CAPRA evaluators on Tuesday, June 13 at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex.
CAPRA accreditation is a five-year cycle that includes three phases: development of the agency self-assessment report, the on-site visitation, and the Commission’s review and decision. The on-site visitation follows the agency’s development of its self-assessment report. If accreditation is granted by the Commission at its meeting following the on-site visit, the agency will develop a new self-assessment report and be revisited every five years. Within each of the four years between on-site visits, the agency will submit an annual report that addresses its continued compliance with the accreditation standards.
On Wednesday, June 14, I attended a very large meeting at City Hall about Valley Metro’s new paratransit and Ride Choice programs. Surprise residents that will be using the program for rides to the doctor, friends, and more filled the room. The folks from Valley Metro who made the presentation were 45 minutes late so that’s not a good sign for a new program. I will have more to say about the new program later in the newsletter.
The same night, I attended a Citizen Outreach meeting at Sundown Mountain School regarding a new residential development known as Bonita Ranch in District 1.
It was my pleasure to attend a ribbon cutting at Desert Oasis for KB Homes on Thursday, June 15. KB Homes will soon build four new models. The models will be located at 17198 W Setlock Trail.
I attended the AZ League of Cities Transportation Committee meeting at their Phoenix office on Friday, June 16. I am a member of this committee and the purpose of the meeting was to discuss important topics we plan to discuss at the League of Cities Conference that will be held in August.
I was a guest at the fire academy graduation on Friday, June 16. The large graduating class filled the Orangewood Church on 27th Avenue in Phoenix. This particular graduation class produced eight recruits for Surprise. Fire fighters have a very close brotherhood and that is tangible attending these events.
I hope our fathers in Surprise had a great Father’s Day on June 18. You all deserve it for your hard work, making a living for your family and caring for your children. I had a relaxing day by taking the day off. My wife and two daughters treated me with dinner at one of our great restaurants right here in Surprise.
Highland Prep hosted a ground breaking event for their new Charter School in Surprise on 15600 W. Hearn Rd. The school is a tuition free public charter preparatory stem high school. Coming in fall 2017, they will open their doors in a temporary facility to a freshman class of 125 students. The school will open its new building in the fall of 2018 that will host freshman and sophomore classes. Each year, they will add another freshman class.
Those of you who utilize the Valley Metro transit system should have received your Ride Choice cards on June 27. I wish the best of luck to all our residents using the program. There are a number of things to keep in mind while you’re trying to navigate that system. First, the system takes you to MJM (the company that is administering this program) which is located in Baltimore, Maryland. Their number is in the brochure that everyone received with their Ride Choice card. However, it’s above the Valley Metro address leading you to believe you are contacting Valley Metro. Personally, I believe this is ludacris to have a company in Baltimore, Maryland overseeing transportation for the residents of Surprise, Arizona. If you called that number in Baltimore on June 28, you would’ve been told that you couldn’t put the funding on your card with a credit card. The alternative is to mail them a check which, by their own admission, takes ten days which means you wouldn’t have funding by the time the program started on July 1. I spoke to six different people between June 27 and Saturday, July 1 and received six different answers. The cab company AAA had no idea about the program until July 1 and had no machine to swipe your Ride Choice card in their cabs. This program allows no specific window of time to pick up a rider once the cab company has been notified of the time for the rider to be picked up at the destination. Be prepared to wait fifteen to forty-five minutes! I’d like to make note that Discount Cab has the card swiper, is well aware of the program and has been providing the service.
The Ride Choice part of the program was not the only part that didn’t go as planned during the transition from Dial-A-Ride. The Trans Dev portion was also deficient. They were supposed to have two vans to pick up our senior citizens and transport them to the Senior Center on Hollyhock. However, on Monday July 3, only one van showed up.
The entire effort was terrible, and the roll out should’ve been delayed at least three to four weeks. I know it’s really easy to be a Monday morning quarterback, but there should’ve been more thought and planning in this process on Valley Metro’s behalf. Let’s just hope the problems are worked out soon. Our seniors are our most vulnerable citizens of Surprise and we should be more responsive to their needs.
In June, we lost a valued friend and employee of Surprise. Community and Recreation Services Director Mark Coronado died at the age of 59. Although his life was cut short, his legacy will live on in Surprise for many generations to come. As the front page of our newspaper said, “He was a visionary,” and his footprints are on our Stadium, Dream Catcher Park, the Northwest Regional Library, many parks in Surprise, the tennis complex, and the list goes on. I worked with Mark on Surprise Farms park my first year on City Council. He was a tireless worker on that project as he was with all of the projects. He had many outreach meetings with the residents who lived in the surrounding area of Surprise Farms Park, and he listened to the input from everyone. We even adjusted our plans for the dog park and moved it further to the west even though the plans were already completed and we were days away from breaking ground. Yet, we chose that area of the park to be left for open play.
While I am on the topic of parks, I’d like to provide you with an update on the area with the green fence. This is an update to my friends at Surprise Farms III and the surrounding area. As you have probably noticed, we are diligently working on that 8 acres and the good news is that the project came in under budget. Needless to say, we have some extra money to utilize for sod instead of grass seeds. Tom McCullough, the Project Manager, and his team are doing a great job on the project and we are looking for completion at the end of August, weather permitting.
On the evening of June 28, I attended the Maricopa Associations of Government (MAG) meeting at the Hyatt Regency Phoenix. The focus of this meeting was discussion regarding wrong way drivers on our interstates and freeways. There is a plan to prevent drivers from entering the exit ramps on the roads. Harris County has been using technology for a couple of years, and it seems to be working, but it’ll cost $4 million which isn’t cheap. However, what’s a human life worth? As Glendale’s Mayor Jerry Weirs said, “We cannot sit by, we must do something.” The project was passed with an overwhelming majority.
After the meeting, we celebrated MAG’s 50th anniversary and passing of the gavel that honored outgoing MAG Regional Chair Mayor Greg Stanton and welcomed new Chair Mayor Jackie Meck from Buckeye. Congratulations to Mayor Meck!
Desert Diamond Casino provided a West Valley update on Thursday, June 29 at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale. They are finally getting their gambling and liquor license after a long standoff with both the city and state. I was honored to meet Chair Emanuel of Tohono O’odham Nation.
Well I guess I will close for now, and I apologize for the length of this newsletter, but a lot of things happened this month. I will not host my monthly meeting this month, but I will be available if you need me.
My next meeting will be held on Friday, August 11 at 7 pm at the Community Center at Arizona Traditions in the Retreat.
I just want to thank Neal and his team for the use of this meeting space.
Surprise Mayor Sharon Wolcott, District 1 Councilmember Roland Winters, the Surprise City Council, the Recreation Advisory Commission and the Community and Recreation Services Department invite you to attend the Surprise Farms Community Park Groundbreaking Ceremony, Saturday, February 28, at 10 a.m.
The ceremony will be held at the Surprise Farms Community Park site, southeast corner of 175th Avenue and Surprise Farms Loop South.
The Surprise Farms Community Park will feature a playground, splash pad, basketball court, dog park, skate park, restrooms and other park amenities.
For more information on Surprise Farms Community Park please call 623.222.2000.