Greetings to all of my fellow District 1 residents and to all the wonderful people living in this beautiful city of Surprise. Let’s begin this newsletter with some exciting news – Arizona Department of Transportation has announced the reopening of Bell Road is targeted for November 22!
My monthly chat was held on Friday, September 9 at Community Center at Arizona Traditions. Several residents attended, and productive conversations took place.
I attended a wonderful 9/11 memorial at Beth Emeth Congregation of the West Valley in Sun City West on Sunday, September 11. A large crowd gathered for the touching ceremony and listened to someone recall the events that took place while they were in New York City that fateful day.
The Helping Partners Program, run by local nonprofit Benevilla, moved into a space at City Hall last month. To welcome the program, a grand opening ceremony took place on Monday, September 12, followed by a tour of the office space. Councilmembers Rachel Villanueva, Skip Hall, Todd Tande and I joined city staff and Benevilla representatives, including CEO Michelle Dionisio and program participants. The Helping Partners Life Enrichment Program was designed for adults with intellectual or development challenges. The program provides volunteer and employment opportunities that enable members to contribute in their respective communities.
The City and ADOT hosted a monthly Business Stakeholders Outreach meeting on Tuesday, September 13. Councilmembers Rachel Villanueva, Skip Hall, Todd Tande and I attended along with staff and business representatives. Economic Development provided an update on outreach and education initiatives and ADOT provided a project update.
ADOT’s Assistant Communication Director Brock Barnhart introduced Phase 3C (see map below) of the project where Bell Rd reopens; a specific target date of November 22, 2016 was later presented at the September 20 City Council meeting. The goal is to open all six lanes of Bell Rd in late November.
Due to continued work on tie-ins, there may be occasional curb lane restrictions and overnight work on Bell Rd after the reopening. The project team will work hard to ensure that at least two lanes in each direction remain open on Bell Rd during daytime work.
When Bell Rd reopens, Grand Ave will be inaccessible from the Bell Rd bridge and vice versa. The signal at the Bell Rd and Grand Ave intersection will be inactive until the ramps open in early 2017. A signal at the intersection of 134th Ave and Bell Rd will be up and operational.
Reconfiguration of the designated detour route to reflect the opening of Bell Road is under review. East-west through movements will resume on Bell Road, however drivers will need to use Bell-Reems/ Bell-Dysart to access Grand Ave. Signage along the designated detour route will be changed so drivers are aware they no longer need to use Greenway Road. Lane striping and signals will be modified at the Bell-Litchfield and Bell-Dysart intersections.
Work continues on eastbound Grand Ave lanes through early 2017.
Later the morning of September 13, I met with representatives from Lennar Homes. Lennar Homes is building homes in Asante. Great news was shared – the home product(s) are selling well and a new product is forthcoming!
On Wednesday, September 14, the Water Resource Management Department held its Annual New Fiscal Year (FY) Kick-off All Hands Lunch for staff. The intent of the lunch is to give staff an opportunity to reflect on FY16 accomplishments through presentations made by division managers that recognize outstanding performers and provide staff with a look at what the department will be doing in FY17. Director Terry Lowe thanked everyone for coming and reminded his staff about the keys to a successful business: People… Processes… Product. This philosophy has led to the completion of the new Gateway Training Center and the successful coordination and teamwork in the commencement and completion of nearly a dozen other major projects. The training center, which will have its ribbon cutting on October 26, is the place where staff will broaden its knowledge and understanding of their careers and assist the department in better serving the community. The department’s division managers: Lee Lambert, Water; Warren Dancer, Wastewater; Christine Nunez, Environmental Compliance; Paul Mohr, Business Process; and Fred Stevens, Resource Portfolio, each gave those in attendance a little deeper look into the work they do, their teams, and their initiatives for next year.
I was honored to attend the American Legion Post 96 meeting. The men and woman of this Post sponsor deserving youth to attend Boys State every year to learn about civic responsibility. This year, Rodney Ross, a senior at Willow Canyon High School was the recipient. I also had the honor of speaking to him about his experience, and I was quite impressed by how polite and articulate this young man is.
Councilmembers Skip Hall, Rachel Villanueva and I attended Benevilla’s Ninth Annual Professional Friends Luncheon at Rio Salado College on Friday, September 16. This event is held annually to thank everyone who supports Benevilla. Benevilla announced the appointment of Joanne Thomson as their new President and CEO. She will assume responsibilities for that role on October 29, 2016 after current President and CEO Michelle Dionisio retires after more than 25 years with the organization. I wish much luck and happiness to Michelle on her next journey and extend my congratulations to Joanne!
I have heard from many of you loud and clear about the increased cost for a ride from Surprise to Sun City and Sun City West and how it negatively impacts your budget. A new contract with Valley Metro went into effect July 2016 which included a fare increase from $1.25 to $4 per ride to these cities from Surprise. I asked staff to bring forth this issue for further discussion at a City Council meeting last month. At the meeting, I proposed a fare reduction for the aforementioned rides to $2.25 each way and the proposal was unanimously supported by my colleagues on the Council. I am very grateful! Effective October 1, the fare reduction to $2.50 will be in place but please note that rides within in the city of Surprise will remain $2 as originally presented in July. Visit www.surpriseaz.gov/dialaride for more information.
KB Homes hosted a ribbon cutting on September 22 at their new development in Sycamore Farms which is located in District 3. There are multiple home plans to choose from with convenient access to Loop 303. Welcome to Surprise, KB Homes!
Later that evening, I attended a public meeting at Desert Oasis Elementary School to observe comments of my constituents and the plans of a developer that is planning to build homes near Desert Oasis. Residents who attended the meeting that live near the proposed development appeared to approve.
Northwest Valley Connect hosted their monthly meeting on September 23. Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) presented on rail in the Valley.
The Surprise Fire Medical Department is hosting several open houses at fire stations throughout the city in the following weeks. I hope you find time to attend. I too attended an open house held on Saturday, September 24 at Fire Station 306 in in Sun City Grand. See upcoming open houses here: http://bit.ly/2cofigc.
I attended the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce monthly breakfast meeting at the Colonnade on Tuesday, September 27 with Councilman Skip Hall. Five candidates running for three seats on the Arizona Corporation Commission participated in a forum. You will see these candidates’ names on the November 8 General Election ballot.
On Thursday, September 29, Councilmembers Skip Hall and Rachel Villanueva and I interviewed seven candidates for two openings on the Planning and Zoning Commission. Our recommendations will be presented to the full City Council for discussion and approval at a City Council meeting this month.
Our seasonal residents are returning, so please join me by welcoming them back to Surprise! Until next time, please be good to yourself and be good to each other!