By Roger Ball
What appeared to some Sun City West residents as a nice place to walk their dogs apparently appeared to others as a nice place to dump trash and debris.
The county’s solution to the latter problem upset some residents.
At the June 27 PORA Traffic and Safety Committee meeting, Sun City West resident Bob Barron asked why the end of Deer Valley Road had been fenced off. It was, he said, a popular place for local residents to walk their dogs.
Michelle Montijo, deputy administrator for County Supervisor Clint Hickman (R-Dist 3) was at the meeting promised to follow up.
In a letter to Mr. Baron, Mr. Hickman said the parcel is excess land from when the county had control and built the interim Loop 303. The freeway was originally planned in 1985 as part of the Maricopa Association of Governments Transportation Plan and was funded by a voter approved sales tax.
But it was dropped from the regional plan due to increasing costs and inadequate funding cost. The Arizona Department of Transportation abandoned plans to build the route, but Maricopa County decided to pick up the project.
Some Sun City West residents were worried the Deer Valley Road would connect to the new highway and cause heavy traffic in the area and contacted their elected officials. Jan Brewer at that time represented Sun City West in the legislature and then later the county Board of Supervisors. She promised the residents there would be no connection that would create through traffic.
That is why the road ends without a connection, and there is some unused land.
“Such parcels are normally sold at auction,” Mr. Hickman said, “but this parcel has been tough to sell because it has very limited access from Deer Valley Road. When the county has these orphaned parcels, we must limit access to prevent illegal dumping, dust control issues and unwanted trespassing.”
MCDOT officials said several years ago they put the property up for auction at the request of some Sun City West residents who wanted houses to be built there, but there were no bidders.
The 16-acre lot is basically triangular shaped with a small strip connecting to Grand Avenue. It is bordered by the walled Loop 303 along most of it, and it does not have access to US60/Grand Avenue because it would need to create a crossing over the very active Burlington Norther Santa Fe Railway.
Some in the community who were opposed to the recent fencing thought a group of residents met with Mr. Hickman to have the lot blocked to others.
“No meeting ever took place,” said Hickman’s chief of staff, Scott Isham.
It was county officials on their own initiative that decided to fence the area according to Mr. Isham.
“Maricopa County Department of Transportation staff were the ones who found items on the property and fenced it off because they have seen more illegal dumping and homeless living on our vacant land,” he said.
Mr. Hickman’s response to Mr. Barron added that MCDOT and the Flood Control District just completed a huge clean up because of these activities on county properties.
Residents are welcome to address issues at regular Board of Supervisors meetings in the auditorium at 205 West Jefferson Street, Phoenix. The formal meetings are generally held at 9:30 a.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Changes and special meetings are posted online.
Roger Ball can be reached at 623-876-2523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.