Tag Archives: Valley Metro

July 2017 • Newsletter

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.

Surprise Fire-Medical fire academy graduates

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.

Highland Prep Facility Render

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.

Former CRS Director Mark Coronado
Former CRS Director Mark Coronado

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.

So Be Good To Yourself And Be Good To Each Other,

Roland Winters Jr.

June 2017 • Newsletter

Happy June to my friends in District 1 and to all of the residents in the beautiful city of Surprise!

I attended the National Prayer Day Ceremony at City Hall on Thursday, May 4. I would like to extend my gratitude to Ray Grim for all of his efforts organizing this event. Thanks, Ray!

Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) hosted a public hearing May 9 on the draft 2040 MAG Regional Transportation Plan, draft FY2018-2022 MAG Transportation Improvement Program and Draft FY17 Transit Program. This hearing provided an outlet for the public to provide comments on transit. To my frustration, there appears to be no plans for any kind of public transportation for Surprise, so we will need to advocate and lobby for transit on our own.

To my friends in Desert Oasis, I know you have a new Community Management Company (AAM) and a new Community Manager. I understand you had a meeting on Wednesday, May 10, and I checked to see if my attendance would help, but I was told it would not be necessary. I had wanted to report that I have been talking to the folks at the “Surprise Today” newspaper trying to find some alternatives to deliver the paper there once a week.

Arizona Charter Academy hosted their annual appreciation lunch on May 18. The school hosts this event annually to thank everyone for their support each year. Due to the lack of space, the school made a very difficult decision to eliminate their high school beginning this fall. ACA CEO Melissa Holdaway and staff have done an exceptional job with the students.

I attended the Joint Planning Advisory Council (JPAC) Sun Corridor Edge 2017 meeting at Wild House Pass Hotel on Friday, May 19. This is the most recent committee that I have been appointed to serve on. JPAC has a shared vision to jointly coordinate planning efforts for the greater good of the regions and the State. It is the intent of the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG), the Pima Association of Governments (PAG), the Central Arizona Governments (CAG) and the Sun Corridor Metropolitan Planning Organization to coordinate planning activities and work cooperatively to foster a successful and economically viable Sun Corridor. This Council also consists of Mayors, Councilmembers and business leaders. This particular meeting focused on the importance of export. It behooves businesses to export their services and products in order to have a more stable income. It is an increasing trend to export to Mexico and Canada.

Group photo of JPAC members

For my friends in Asante, Lennar Homes is planning to release approximately 485 acres for an age-restricted community called Paradise Asante. After reviewing the plans, it certainly appears to be a nice development.

On May 24, I was briefed on the project by Lennar Homes executives. The project will consist of 13 percent of the entire master plan. Lennar Homes anticipates that this project will increase sales. Lennar’s Next Gen product has already surpassed one thousand units sold.

Northwest Valley Connect (NWVC) held their monthly meeting on May 25 with notable attendees that included Senator Debbie Lesko, Former Representative Rich Grey, Glendale Transport Director Matt Dudley, and Valley Metro staff including Ron Brooks, Arlene Schenck, and Steve Henry. We had a good conversation that I hope will someday lead to a transit system for Surprise. TransDev staff Kate Riley and Mike Lee were also present to explain the new paratransit system effective July 1. The new system will have mini buses transporting residents to our Senior Center, a shared ride program and a Paratransit system. I am hopeful that the changes will result in more efficient transportation options for our senior and ADA communities.

Veterans lay wreath WWII Memorial located at the Northwest Regional LibraryThe Surprise Community and Recreation Services, in partnership with the American Legion Post 96 and Marine Corps League White Tank Mountain Detachment #1246, held their annual Memorial Day Wreath Laying Ceremony on Saturday, May 27 at the WWII Memorial located at the Northwest Regional Library. This wonderful event truly honors our veterans.

I also partook in a few Memorial Day events on Monday, May 29. VFW Post 285 hosted a wreath laying at the memorial for former Town Manager and Medal of Honor recipient Nick Bacon. Mr. Bacon served in the Army and was well known as one of our great City Managers. If you have not had the opportunity to visit Nick Bacon’s memorial, please do so. It is located outside of the City Clerk’s office at City Hall.

Every year, the Veterans Memorial Hall Committee hosts a Memorial Day Ceremony at Radiant Church. This year was no exception, and we had a good crowd to thank all of our veterans, those still serving and the military families for all of their sacrifices. I would like to extend a big thanks to the Committee for all they do and to Radiant Church for hosting the event. It was a great tribute.

On Tuesday, May 30, I attended a special business forum hosted by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. Senator Jeff Flake was provided updates on recent topics that have the potential to affect business owners and residents. He also was on hand to answer questions. The event well attended. The Glendale Civic Center is a very nice venue, and I hope someday Surprise has a venue like it.

Arizona Senator Jeff Flake with Surprise Councilmember Roland F. Winters Jr.

All my friends in District 1 most likely know by now that we are getting a Wendy’s in front of Winco. That is great because I love their chili. In addition, further East on Bell Road at the corner of Civic Center Drive, there will be an In & Out coming soon.

As a reminder, my next meeting is June 9, 7 p.m., at the Retreat Center in Arizona Traditions, 18250 W Weatherby Drive. This will be my last meeting until August.

Until next month, be good to yourself and to each other.

Roland F. Winters Jr.

City, Valley Metro host public meeting to discuss Dial-a-Ride transition, June 14

The city of Surprise, in partnership with Valley Metro, will host a public outreach meeting on Tuesday, June 14 to provide current Northwest Valley Dial-a-Ride passengers an opportunity to learn about the new transportation service models prior to the July 1 transition of Dial-a-Ride to RideChoice and Valley Metro Paratransit.

The outreach meeting will be held in the Surprise City Hall Community Room, 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza, on June 14 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. A brief presentation will begin at 4 p.m.

Information about the shared route Senior Bus will also be presented at the meeting.

Following the presentation, city and Valley Metro representatives will be available to answer questions about the transportation services.

Individuals needing reasonable accommodations should contact the ADA coordinator at 623.222.3531 (Voice); or 623.222.3503 (TTY) at least three (3) business days prior to the meeting so arrangements can be made.

Customers unable to attend the meeting can stay informed about the Dial-a-Ride service changes by visiting surpriseaz.gov/transportation.

April 2016 • Newsletter

Greetings to my fellow District 1 residents and everyone in this beautiful city we call Surprise!

I can’t believe it is already April and our winter visitors are leaving us again for their summer homes. The month of March began with a City Council meeting the very first day, and opening day at our spectacular stadium the following day. Spring Training started with the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals and American League West Division Champion, Texas Rangers, playing each other. March is a great month – the weather is perfect, Spring Training is here and many of our meetings were held at the stadium, mainly to entertain and inform many of our economic leads.

As promised last month, I will give you an update on my trip to Washington D.C. and what we tried to accomplish on that trip. Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance and I attended three meetings with three different generals at the Pentagon. Conversations included topics such as Luke Air Force Base (AFB), the budget for the A-10, and the importance of collaboration between the City of Surprise and Luke AFB for the good of the whole West Valley. The economic impact is $653 million from Luke, not to mention the indirect economic drivers.

Councilmember Winters and Deputy City Manager Nicole Lance

During the trip, we met with the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James while at the Pentagon. She is relatively new to the job having not yet visited Luke AFB. Additionally, we had a meeting with Senator John McCain and Senator Jeff Flake, and also went to Lockheed Martin where some parts of the F-35 are made. All together we had four full days of productive meetings and constructive learning!

Upon my return to Arizona, I attended Valley Metro’s Northwest Light Rail Extension ADA training tour at the 19th Avenue and Dunlap Park-and-Ride. The $327 million dollar project broke ground on January 12, 2013. Valley Metro did a fantastic job with the rail!

On Monday March 14, I was invited to the Surprise City Academy, and if you have not attended the series of programs, it is well worth your time to learn all about the inner workings of our city and get insight from the Mayor and City Council Members, City Manager, City Attorney, and many of our Department Directors. This program is free to the public. I want to thank everyone involved in that event for all their hard work! Thank you to the city staff who volunteered their time to provide their respective department’s overview.

I held my monthly meeting on March 18. As a reminder, I have my meeting on the third Friday of every month at the Community Center in the Retreat area of Arizona Traditions, 18250 W. Weatherby Drive. Everyone is welcome to come to my meetings. Please note I will not have a meeting in June or July.

Cal Ripken Day at the Surprise Stadium was held on Saturday, March 19. There was an impressive turn out! It is great to see all those boys and girls invested in playing baseball. I was happy to be on the field and greet them all. I want to personally thank all those men and women who give up their time to coach these great kids.

Councilman Winters with players at Cal Ripken Day

I serve on the Advisory Committee for North West Valley Connect Organization, and we had our meeting on Friday March 25th at Benevilla. Northwest Valley Connect helps people find rides when they cannot get a ride through their usual channels. Northwest Valley Connect is led by Kathy Chandler as CEO.

I spent most of the day Saturday March 26th at the Ability 360 Center Transportation Conference in Phoenix with the folks from Valley Metro Transportation discussing the difficulties in transit in the West Valley and the East Valley. Surprise has a unique problem in that we have no transit system and the cost to initiate one is astronomical. We do have a fairly reliable Dial-a-Ride system which the City of Surprise subsidizes. We are always working on improving that service.

We had the grand opening of the City Café Express and John W. Clark art show at City Hall on March 30th and if you have not seen it yet, I think it would be worth your time. Most of the paintings are aircrafts as a way for Mr. Clark, who is a Surprise resident, to celebrate his many years in the United States Air Force.

Before I close my newsletter this month, I would like to have your feedback about a very important decision the City Council must make in the next couple of months. If you have been following the budget conversations at our City Council meetings, you know we are about to raise taxes to pay for more police and firefighters for our city. We are behind most cities with regards to the amount of first responders per resident. The proposed FY2017 budget will fund an additional 13 police officers, 7 firefighters and 1 emergency manager position. These positions must be funded with new tax revenue. No one likes the hikes, but sometimes it is just necessary, and in this case I feel we need this increase in protection. My first and foremost duty as a City Council Member is to protect our citizens. Now, the only question remaining is which tax or taxes do we raise? I have been agonizing over this question and the choices are a raise in property tax, a raise in sales tax, or we institute a food tax, or a possible combination of all three. I need your thoughts on this issue. I can’t support a tax on food, it is a regressive tax; it hits the people who don’t have resources first. I can see an increase in property tax, or even a slight increase in sales tax. If you have some ideas or complaints, email me or call me. Until next month, be good to yourself and be good to each other.

Roland F. Winters Jr.