by Robert “Bob” Jackson, Mayor, Casa Grande
My mayor term is coming to an end the first part of December. I am proud of the many things we have accomplished, but there are still projects that we were unable to finish. In fairness, we did spend a significant amount of time working through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, which hampered our ability to complete some of the things on my list.
Of the unfinished business, the proposed community center ranks near the top. We are moving forward with the project and I hope to see construction start early next year, but it would have been nice to have completed the center. A related project is the final disposition of the old high school auditorium. I understand that this project requires the relocation of the Community Services staff and that is scheduled as part of the new community center, but as the auditorium sits vacant, its condition continues to deteriorate to a point that it will become unsafe. As part of the auditorium removal we also need to help the Boys & Girls Club find new quarters. The facility is over 60 years old and has exceeded its useful life. We are working with the Boys & Girls Club to house them in the new community center and hope to finalize the agreement by the end of the year.
Second on my list is the Phoenix Mart project. As I tell people frequently, it is a large, difficult and complicated project with unusual financing and there are only two in the world. I do think that the hurdles are fewer and I am hopeful that it will be well underway by the time I leave office. There are several related projects that will be built as well as the Phoenix Mart building that have been lost in the buzz surrounding the project. Among them are a hotel to house visitors and a business retail center located on the west side of the main building. The total site is almost a square-mile and the master plan has several elements. There is also a sewer line that will be built from the intersection of Kortsen Road and I-10 to not only serve Phoenix Mart but to also open the east side of the freeway for development. The sewer is being built by the city and the cost shared between AzSourcing and the city is allocated by the amount of capacity each will use. This project should start this fall and be ready when Phoenix Mart opens.
There are also a number of initiatives I would liked to have moved along more before my departure. They include the implementation of the “Life on Main” project on the south side of town. For our city to continue to be healthy, we need to start redeveloping the south side, and the Life on Main study provides a perfect outline to rejuvenate the area.
Another series of projects we have pursued is the widening of Interstate 10. We were successful in widening from Earley Road to Val Vista Drive and ADOT has committed funding to complete widening from Early to Sunland Gin within the next few years. The key piece, however, remains the section from Val Vista Drive to Queen Creek Road in Chandler. We had hoped that when funding for the widening south of Early was approved, there would also be funding for the start of the environmental process for the section through the Gila River Indian Community, but it was not approved. In talking with Craig McFarland, our next Mayor, I know it is a top priority for him and he will continue to push ADOT to fund this needed project.
I am sure there are many things we didn’t get finished, but these are the ones at the top of my list.