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  #81  
Old Posted Jun 17, 2010, 7:01 PM
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A pilot waits for passengers to disembark from a Horizon Air flight at Pulliam Airport in May 2009.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


Horizon pulls out of Flag
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
June 17, 2010

Horizon Air's announcement Wednesday that it would discontinue service between Flagstaff and Los Angeles in August caught city officials by surprise. It was less than two months ago that the airline had been discussing with city airport officials an expansion of air service to either Denver or Las Vegas. City Manager Kevin Burke even touted the last two years of Horizon flights as a definitive success of the outgoing city council on Tuesday night. The next morning, Burke and others learned the Flagstaff service cutback was one of six routes being discontinued by Horizon as the Seattle-based airline looks to cut costs. The cutbacks came just two days after Horizon Air announced the retirement of its president and CEO, Jeff Pinneo.

The airline has stated it was looking to transition its entire fleet to Bombardier turboprops. Currently, the airline has 40 turboprops and 17 regional jets. An e-mail sent to several community members by Clint Ostler, the marketing and development manager for Horizon Air, suggests Horizon's decision was closely tied to reducing the overall number of regional jets in favor of late-model, fuel-efficient turboprops. "We were forced to make this very difficult decision after reducing our fleet by four aircraft as we strive to become an all Q400 operator," Ostler wrote. Horizon Air will discontinue service in Flagstaff on Aug. 22.

OTHER ROUTES MORE PROFITABLE

Flagstaff Pulliam Airport Manager John Lauher said Horizon gave no advance warning of the pullout. "I got an e-mail two months ago saying that the last two months had been profitable and that they were continuing on that path," he said. But the relatively new service to Los Angeles was not as profitable as more established routes. "They emphasized on the phone to me that they eliminated their least profitable routes," he said. "Not the ones losing money but those that were not making as much as others." The airline had cut back in January to a single daily round-trip flight to Los Angeles after flying twice a day for the first 18 months of air service.

The city of Flagstaff had signed a contract with Horizon with approximately $600,000 in subsidies and airport improvements during its first year of operation out of Pulliam starting in June 2008. Some of those subsidies were picked up by the city of Prescott when Horizon planes began landing there several months later. A second yearly contract significantly reduced the incentive paid to the airline. In total, the city of Flagstaff paid Horizon Air $508,000 during the two years of service. Those subsidies were offset in part by landing fees and taxes paid by the airline and passengers, but those figures were not available from the city late Wednesday.

CITY NOT CONSULTED

Burke said he was disappointed the airline chose not to consult the city before making its decision. At least one facet of the city's economic vitality team is focused on business retention and has several economic tools designed to keep businesses in Flagstaff. "This is what gives corporate America a bad name," Burke said. Julie Pastrick, the president and CEO of the Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce, said she was disappointed by the decision to leave Flagstaff. The chamber played a major role in supporting expanding commercial air service at Pulliam Airport. "Horizon provided a good service to our community and opened doors into Flagstaff not previously available to our northern Arizona guests," she said. "We believe this decision to be indicative of economic conditions outside the control of the city or the business community."

Pastrick was confident that as the local economy recovers, airlines will keep Flagstaff in mind as they consider expansion opportunities. Councilmember Al White said the city should consider talking to others airlines that expressed an interest in Flagstaff before the council eventually settled on Horizon Air in March 2008. White conceded that the city no longer has financial ability to offer the same incentives as the Horizon package from two years ago. But he said the city could offer some incentives if spread throughout a long-term contract.

US AIRWAYS REMAINS

The pullout by Horizon will leave Flagstaff's Pulliam Airport with just one commercial airline. US Airways Express operates daily connector flights between Flagstaff and Phoenix-Sky Harbor. On Tuesday night, the Flagstaff City Council approved a multi-year agreement with US Airways Express to provide daily air service between Flagstaff and Phoenix. There were no financial incentives tied to continue air service to the Valley. The number of passengers flying with US Airways increased over the last two years by 6,000 passengers, despite the recession. Flight cancellations by US Airways, a common complaint by local frequent fliers, dropped to 2.4 percent last year, city records show. Several years ago, the cancellation rate for the Valley-based airline was closer to 10 percent, said Lauher.
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  #82  
Old Posted Jun 28, 2010, 6:36 PM
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Sarah Darr and Jed Westover stand in front of the first set of foundations for three
affordable housing units being built on Izabel Street, across from Coconino High School.
Darr is the community housing manager for the city of Flagstaff and Westover is
the project manager with Loven Contracting.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


More Flagstaff townhouses for $160K

by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
June 28, 2010

The recent groundbreaking for the first phase of the Izabel Homes project signals a new milestone for the city-run community land trust. In a partnership with local builder Loven Contracting, Flagstaff officials expect to have a total of 16 homes added to the land trust by 2015, offering one of the only paths to home ownership for local families making no more than 80 percent of the area median income. For a family of four, that would mean those making less than $49,200 annually would qualify. Community Housing Manager Sarah Darr said the groundbreaking was a huge step forward for the community land trust, which was formed by the Flagstaff City Council in 2006. The Izabel units will be the first permanently deeded, affordable homes to be built specifically with the land trust in mind.

The city will be able to price each home between $160,000 and $180,000, with the city retaining ownership of the land and allowing the homeowner to purchase only the house itself. The homes will vary in size to accommodate different family sizes, but all will be townhomes. The city has several conditions on the resale of homes in the trust, including capping the amount for which they can be resold and requiring the new buyers to meet income eligibility guidelines. Two separate housing projects have produced a total of the 33 permanently deeded affordable homes in Flagstaff through partnerships with outside groups. "We are very excited to be moving forward with our community partners toward 16 new, owner-occupied homes in the Sunnyside neighborhood," Darr said.

FEDERAL GRANTS PAY BILLS

The barren, 1.67-acre site near Coconino High School has been in city possession for several years after the city took control of several buildings that were found to pose a significant health hazard. The city spent roughly $1.1 million -- mostly from federal grants set aside for neighborhood revitalization -- to demolish the buildings, clean up asbestos and relocate several renters. Darr said the finished lots will end up costing less than $70,000 apiece, far below the going price for a finished lot inside the city limits.

The city will also be loaning Loven Contracting $180,000 to help cover the costs of building the first three homes. The construction loan will be paid off when the homes are sold, but Darr notes the money will essentially be put into a revolving account to fund the construction of future phases of the same project, with the city being repaid as each home is sold. Darr said the city has received significant interest in the project after the groundbreaking was announced. The city's Nexus Study, released in 2007, said Flagstaff has an immediate demand for 800 affordable housing units and will need 2,800 more over the next 15 years.

NO CITY INVESTMENT, NO BIDS

The city had initially put the entire Izabel Homes project out to bid without any type of city investment with the hope that the developers could find private financing for the entire project. The city received no bids on the initial proposal. Darr said it was difficult to find banks willing to offer construction loans in the immediate aftermath of the subprime mortgage meltdown. "For developers acquiring construction financing and for low-income home buyers looking to acquire mortgage financing, the lending market has become quite conservative," Darr said. Drastic changes in lending and the general local economy over the last few years were part of the reason it took several years for the city to set up the community land trust and begin building homes. "As lenders have become more conservative in lending practices with first-time homebuyers and specifically, permanently affordable units have become more complicated," Darr said.
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  #83  
Old Posted Jul 2, 2010, 9:38 PM
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Snowbowl can start snowmaking construction July 12
Arizona Daily Sun
July 2, 2010

Arizona Snowbowl is cleared to make snow for skiing on the San Francisco Peaks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided today. Construction could begin as soon as July 12, barring more legal action. The decision on the ski area reached President Obama’s cabinet level, with a letter today signed by U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The new supervisor of the Coconino National Forest, Earl Stewart, signed the final document Snowbowl needed to proceed, stating the ski area has two choices:

--It could use potable water downstream and underground from a Flagstaff reclaimed water facility.

--Or it could use reclaimed wastewater directly, which would be less costly.


Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky said logging for new trails and installation of pipeline for snowmaking would begin this season, although it might not be finished in time to be operational by winter 2010-2011. No new environmental analysis would be needed for the potable water, Stewart stated. But environmentalists are likely to disagree – they have contended that a new water source should trigger a new analysis, which could be grounds for a new lawsuit. There is an ongoing lawsuit questioning the health and safety of using only reclaimed water. The new water source was an attempt by the USDA to forge a compromise more acceptable to area tribes, who consider the use of reclaimed wastewater a desecration of the Peaks, which they hold sacred. The chairman of the Hopi Tribe has said neither water source is acceptable. The Navajo Nation government has been silent on the issue, but excerpts of some letters from its president will be published in Saturday’s Arizona Daily Sun.
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  #84  
Old Posted Jul 9, 2010, 10:28 PM
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Snowbowl construction timetable
Arizona Daily Sun
July 9, 2010

The specific projects this year are:

-- Logging on about 66 acres for new trails, mostly to add a new chairlift and trails on the flanks of Humphreys Peak inside the ski area, including 32 acres logged on flanks of Humphreys between the Hart Prairie and Agassiz chair lifts

--Adding snowmaking equipment to cover 205 acres with snow, including guns and hoses.

-- Construction of a 3,000- to 4,000-square-foot building along a utilities corridor to house equipment that controls snowmaking infrastructure

-- Construction of a small reservoir near Hart Prairie Lodge and a larger reservoir (10,000 gallons) near the top of the existing Sunset chair lift, for water to make snow

-- Conveyor-belt-type devices on Hart Prairie to carry beginners uphill for lessons

Projects that come later would include:

-- A 14.8-mile-long pipeline to carry water from Flagstaff to Snowbowl

-- Realigned high-speed chairlifts

-- A handle ski-tow for a terrain park and halfpipe

-- A 400-space parking lot, including for a new sledding area

-- 1,110 more linear feet of roads on the mountain

-- A pedestrian underpass

-- A new, 10,000 square-foot building next to the Agassiz Lodge

-- Expanding the Hart Prairie Lodge by 6,000 square feet, to make it 24,900 square feet
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  #85  
Old Posted Jul 29, 2010, 6:03 AM
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The retail portion of the partially complete Aspen Place at The Sawmill may soon have a new owner--none other than a subsidiary of RED, the developer that is building the CityScape project in downtown Phoenix:



The Wildflower Bread Company is in the northern section of the Aspen Place at The Sawmill development.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


Lone Tree project due new owner
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
July 20, 2010

The retail half of the troubled Flagstaff development known as Aspen Place at The Sawmill might have a new owner by the end of September. The developer behind Cityscape, a mixed-use project in downtown Phoenix covering three city blocks, is close to buying the commercial portion of the stalled development off Lone Tree Road. Brett Heron, a managing partner at RED Realty Advisors, confirmed that the Phoenix-based offshoot of RED Development is close to buying the property from the current owners, Valley-based The Aspen Group. The deal, if it goes through, could get the city off the hook for millions in bond payments over the next 24 years. Sawmill's internal infrastructure -- the streets, sewers and water lines -- were financed with city-backed bonds that the developer was expected to repay out of proceeds from the finished project.

SUFFICIENT CAPITAL

Mark Landsiedel, the city's community development director, said he believes RED Realty Advisors has sufficient capital to restart the midtown project. He said the Aspen Group's financial problems made it difficult to attract tenants. Several storefronts currently are empty and unfinished between Pita Jungle and Wildflower Bread Company. "That is what derailed Aspen -- they didn't have money for tenant improvements," Landsiedel said.

The Flagstaff City Council is expected to weigh in on several agreements next week that would clear the way for RED Realty Advisors to buy the property. The city currently has a developer's agreement as well as an incentive agreement with the Aspen Group that would need to be transferred to its new owners. This includes an agreement that would split up to $9 million in future sales tax revenue. Since June 2009, the city has given back just $6,000 in tax revenue to the Aspen Group because of the development's financial problems. The new owners would be required to pay the bond payments a year in advance for the life of the bonds, Landsiedel said.

NEW FRONTIERS NOT INCLUDED

The sale of the commercial property to RED Realty Advisors would not include the building housing New Frontiers, which was sold to another group earlier this year. Heron said he expects a different mix of tenants at Aspen Place at The Sawmill than at Cityscape in Phoenix. The developer has not reached out to prospective tenants, Heron said. He expects new tenants could be moving into Aspen Place by next summer.

The Aspen Group has defaulted twice in the last year on agreements with the city to make the bond payments. This has forced the city to both tap a letter of credit posted by the Valley developer as well as take control of 20 acres on the southern half of the property slated for residential use. The Council is expected to decide next month whether to sell off southern parcels to help finance $8.5 million in bond payments.
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Last edited by kaneui; Sep 3, 2010 at 2:00 AM.
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  #86  
Old Posted Aug 13, 2010, 9:51 PM
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Pine Canyon will be the next luxury golf community to declare bankruptcy, joining other local developments Flagstaff Ranch and Seven Canyons Sedona that went under due to the housing bubble crash:



(photo: Arizona Daily Sun)


Pine Canyon on financial ropes
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
August 13, 2010

Hit hard by the housing recession and faced with a negative balance sheet, the owners of the Pine Canyon luxury housing and golf course development in Flagstaff are close to filing for bankruptcy protection. The managing partner of Pine Canyon, Mike Greenbaum, told property owners on Wednesday to expect a filing for bankruptcy protection as early as next week. No jobs are expected to be lost.

He said the development has required constant cash infusions since its inception and has been unable to reach an agreement with its bank for a loan extension. "For the past many years, my partners and I have endeavored to maintain the Pine Canyon community at the highest level of excellence. That level of service and ambiance has necessitated consistent subsidies on our part," Greenbaum wrote. A demand to pay down outstanding debt from Johnson Bank has only served to exacerbate the financial troubles for the luxury development. The bank has locations in Arizona and Wisconsin. "With our lender now demanding a substantial paydown on our loan, the time has come for us to face reality and that has led to our most difficult of decisions .... we have sustained nothing but losses with the project and to continue to add to those losses makes no sense in this economic environment," he said.

Warren Smith, the president of Pine Canyon, said the development is current with all of its payments to the bank. He declined to comment on how much Pine Canyon currently owes Johnson Bank or how much debt it was asked to pay down. Smith hopes the bank and the development could still work out a solution in the coming days to avoid bankruptcy. However, the 300-plus residents of the largely second-home community will not see any services or jobs affected as a result of the planned bankruptcy filing. The development, including its 18-hole golf course and 35,000-square-foot clubhouse, has roughly 100 employees. In the last six months, only five homes and six lots have sold in Pine Canyon, according to information from Northern Arizona Association of Realtors Multi Listing Service.

This isn't the first luxury housing and golf course development in the Flagstaff region to file for bankruptcy. Flagstaff Ranch west of Flagstaff went bankrupt in 2006, after disputes about an unfinished clubhouse, and with a golf course that later closed. The state had put a hold on new property sales there in 2005 until potential buyers were notified that amenities were unfinished. The development was later put into receivership, meaning outside agents were put in charge of sorting out how to pay the bills. Flagstaff Ranch emerged from bankruptcy in 2009. Several local Realtors noted the bankruptcy filing depressed home values in the Flagstaff Ranch development.


For more info.:

http://www.pinecanyon.net/

http://www.flagstaffranch.com/

http://www.sevencanyons.com/
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  #87  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2010, 7:51 PM
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A rendering of the future Native American Cultural Center
(courtesy: NAU)


Native American Cultural Center gets green light
Inside NAU
August 11, 2010

The Arizona Board of Regents has granted Northern Arizona University final approval to begin building a Native American Cultural Center on its Flagstaff campus. At the regents meeting last week in Tempe, the university sought approval to move forward with the $7 million, 12,540-square-foot Native American Cultural Center at its new location across from Cline Library. The project includes new construction, demolition, site work and utility infrastructure extensions. It will be funded with $3 million in donations and $4 million in general university funds, which will be offset as additional gift funding is received. Regent Bob McClendon said the center’s proposed location, in the heart of campus near the library and University Union, will make it “a focal point for the whole campus and makes NAU a focal point for the country.”

As home to 1,400 Native American students from 62 different tribes, Northern Arizona University has a commitment to serving Native students, explained Jane Kuhn, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. She told the board that a center that allows intensive advising will help graduate and maintain these students. In addition to serving the university’s Native population, NAU President John Haeger pointed out that the cultural center will serve the entire NAU campus. “The center will be a link between students and faculty and will reach out to the entire campus by teaching Native American culture,” Haeger said. “It helps fulfill the undergraduate mission of the university.”

The center will be a platform for the diverse traditions, perspectives and contributions of Native American culture on the NAU campus, and will welcome students, scholars, tribal communities, the university community and the public, providing opportunities to engage with and learn from each other. The facility will house activities that support student recruitment and retention, serving as a point of contact for Native groups on campus and programs involving NAU and the tribes. The center will embody Native values and will serve as a symbol of NAU's ongoing commitment to Native Americans, integrating Native design features and sustainable design principles. Regent LuAnn Leonard, an NAU graduate and member of the Hopi Tribe, praised the project, saying she is proud to support the center on a campus that is “very spiritual to many tribes.” Construction is expected to begin this fall with the center open for the fall 2011 semester.



For more info.: http://home.nau.edu/nass/nacc.asp
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  #88  
Old Posted Aug 20, 2010, 8:47 PM
Buckeye Native 001 Buckeye Native 001 is offline
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Oh, so that's what they're tearing down the old counseling center for? I'm guessing that's where it'll go, unless they plan on taking out the parking lots in front of the north campus union?
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  #89  
Old Posted Aug 21, 2010, 12:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buckeye Native 001 View Post
Oh, so that's what they're tearing down the old counseling center for? I'm guessing that's where it'll go, unless they plan on taking out the parking lots in front of the north campus union?

Yes that's the site. It was originally going to be built on the vacant lot south of the Science Lab Facility, but they decided to hold onto that parcel for a large science building expansion in the future.
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  #90  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2010, 7:01 PM
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With the commercial, retail and second-home sectors in the tank, most of Flagstaff's current and planned construction activity is at NAU:


Flagstaff is big loser of construction jobs
Percentage is worst of 337 metro areas in July '09-July '10
Arizona Daily Star
September 1, 2010

Flagstaff lost the most construction sector jobs, by percentage, out of 337 U.S. metro areas between July '09 and July '10, according to the Associated General Contractors of America. During that year, Flagstaff lost 700 of its 2,200 workers in the sector, which in that city includes construction, logging and mining, for a drop of 32 percent, the contractors group reported this week, using federal employment data. Statewide, Arizona lost 11 percent of its construction jobs during that year, not including logging and mining jobs. Arizona has seen a plunge of 54 percent in construction jobs, the group says, since the state's peak employment in June 2006. According to the contractors group:

• Construction workers' pay in Arizona averaged $44,110, or 5 percent more than the average for all private sector employees.

• The state had 15,600 construction firms in 2008, 86 percent of them with fewer than 20 employees each.

• Private, nonresidential construction spending amounted to $5.8 billion in Arizona in 2009.

• Nationwide, 276 out of the 337 metro areas - including Tucson - lost construction jobs from last July to this July. The Chicago area lost the most construction workers by raw count in that year (32,900 jobs, 23 percent) than any other metro area, reflecting a construction strike that has since ended. The area adding the most construction jobs was Calvert-Charles-Prince George's counties in Maryland.


Construction jobs

12-mo. 12-mo. Area July '09 July '10 % change gain/loss

Arizona 128,100 114,200 -11 percent -13,900

*Phoenix/Mesa/Glendale 95,200 86,600 -9 percent -8,600

Tucson 16,500 14,200 -14 percent -2,300

*Flagstaff 2,200 1,500 -32 percent -700

* Also includes logging and mining.

Numbers are not seasonally adjusted.


Source: Associated General Contractors of America

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  #91  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2010, 1:49 AM
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After listening to over eight hours of testimony since Tuesday, the city council upheld its original agreement to sell treated wastewater to Arizona Snowbowl, although a pending lawsuit could delay actual snowmaking for years:


Flagstaff sticks with treated wastewater for snow
By FELICIA FONSECA
Arizona Daily Sun
September 2, 2010

The Flagstaff City Council has voted to stick with its original contract to send treated wastewater to a northern Arizona ski resort for snowmaking, but skiers won't be heading down the slopes on artificial snow anytime soon. The council voted 5-2 Thursday to reaffirm a 2002 contract that calls for 552 acre feet of treated wastewater per year to go to the Arizona Snowbowl, essentially rejecting a proposal to use potable water or a combination of the water sources. By sticking with treated wastewater, a pending lawsuit challenging the health risks of the water can move forward. The lawsuit in federal court in Phoenix is expected to tie the hands of Snowbowl owners for years, delaying construction of snowmaking equipment. "I'm glad I'll hopefully have my day in court and justice will be served," said one of the plaintiffs and a Navajo tribal member, Clayson Benally. Snowbowl owner Eric Borowsky said he's committed to following through with snowmaking and was certain the resolution of the lawsuit would be in the resort's favor. "If you don't have snowmaking, the question is not if you'll go out of business, it's when," he said.

Snowmaking has been a contentious issue in this mountain town. With varying snow levels year to year, the success of the resort never is certain. American Indian tribes have fought snowmaking for years, contending it would desecrate the San Francisco Peaks that they consider sacred and liken to family. The special City Council meeting came after the U.S. Department of Agriculture suggested that treated wastewater be swapped for potable water as a compromise among the parties. The council heard hours of debate over the issue Monday but postponed a vote until Thursday. Councilman Art Babbott said he based his choice of treated wastewater not on the tribes' sentiments toward the peaks or the recommendation of the USDA but on how best to provide for Flagstaff citizens now and in the future. "We will make very bad policies here if we allow entities outside our jurisdiction to dictate what we do," he said. "And if that means losing appeasement, so be it." Councilwoman Coral Evans took issue with the USDA stepping into the debate last year after the tribes lost a yearslong court battle over religious freedom. "I think they re-created a bad situation and made it even worse," said Evans, who voted for use of treated wastewater.

The U.S. Forest Service under the USDA ultimately granted a permit in July for the construction of snowmaking equipment after it became evident that tribal leaders said they would not support snowmaking regardless of the water source. Council members Mayor Sara Presler and Karla Brewster both favored sending the more expensive potable water up a pipeline to the resort. The USDA had pledged to offset the cost of the potable water if the council chose that option. Presler said she found it "drastically irresponsible" to sell a future water source but would rather utilize one that is considered of higher quality. A move to allow the Snowbowl to use potable water for the first five years, clearing the way for snowmaking construction, then switch to treated wastewater for the remaining 15 years failed.
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  #92  
Old Posted Sep 11, 2010, 6:57 PM
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A Florida company is installing 62 wind turbines, each at 405' high, northwest of Williams, and is looking to expand further in northern Arizona:



A giant wind turbine blade makes its way north on Interstate 17 just south of
Flagstaff Tuesday. A convoy of semis were heading north with blades and
tower sections for the wind turbine.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


Leaning into the wind
by CYNDY COLE
Arizona Daily Sun
September 10, 2010

The developer of Arizona's largest planned wind farm is also testing the breeze across a much larger swath of northern Arizona. Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources is asking Coconino County officials for permission to install wind-measuring towers on ranch lands north of the San Francisco Peaks, and west and southwest of Valle that span hundreds of thousands of acres. A spokesman for the company said that, for the moment, it's only focused on installing 62 turbines across 20,000 acres northwest of Williams in 2011. The project is called Perrin Ranch. He declined to discuss other plans. The 99-megawatt development would be the biggest wind farm in Arizona and the first in Coconino County. Each turbine would stand 405 feet tall.

WHERE IS OFF LIMITS?

But some members of the county's planning and zoning board look to the future, asking: Where are good places for wind turbines, and where -- if anywhere -- should they be off limits? "It behooves us to slow the process down and really look at it. Look at it from a wildlife point of view. Look at it from a power and necessity point of view. Look at it from a land use point of view ... I don't want anyone to think I'm against wind farms -- I'm for the idea," said Maggie Sacher, a Vermilion Cliffs resident and planning commissioner. She opposes putting wind-testing towers in areas she wouldn't want large wind turbines, such as in scenic areas. The planning commission voted last month to delay the approval of wind-testing towers. "For wind farms, we absolutely go out and look at the site and consider whether there'd be detrimental impacts to it," said Commissioner Grant Cooper. What the public thinks, and whether Arizona Game and Fish thinks the towers would kill raptors, are other important considerations for him, he said, but he wants renewable energy.

VIEWSHED TRADEOFF

Commissioner Sat Best ponders what the county should do if the developer proposes to put these towers a few miles from the highway leading from Williams to the Grand Canyon. He raises the word "viewshed," which was often heard during a debate about whether wind towers east of Flagstaff along Interstate 40 would interfere with property owners' views of the Peaks. "It's a tough one because we all love wind power and we all love the Grand Canyon viewshed, and we need to strike a balance," he said. There's no one yardstick for what wind turbines the county would approve or deny. "The more the public jumps in here and pipes up, that would be great," Best said. The wind-testing towers NextEra is seeking would be located between Valle and Gray Mountain on Babbitt Ranches, 20 miles west of Valle, and about three and 7 miles west of State Route 64, north of the communities of Red Lake and Williams. NextEra wouldn't discuss them. "Right now the only project we have is the Perrin Ranch project," said Steve Stengel, of NextEra.

STATE APPROVAL NEEDED

To build the wind farm, NextEra also would need clearance from the Arizona Corporation Commission. The panel would ask about the environmental impacts of the project, and whether NextEra had an agreement in place to sell power, said Arizona Corporation Commission spokeswoman Rebecca Wilder. Wind farms have been proposed along Interstate 40 east of Flagstaff, near Cameron, and elsewhere, but none has been built to date. They have sometimes lacked purchasers or financing, and tribal government permission in Cameron. NextEra is a large wholesale power provider that already has a contract to sell the power produced on the Perrin Ranch northwest of Williams to Arizona Public Service. The Perrin Ranch wind project would be enough to supply about 25,000 customers.

8-10 LONG-TERM JOBS

The company told investors that it planned to build enough wind energy this year nationwide to create 10 wind farms the size of the one proposed in northwest of Williams. If this one is built, about 200 or 250 construction workers would be involved, followed by 8-10 long-term employees, Stengel said. The contract to sell power would span 25 years. Utilities across Arizona are supposed to be supplying 2.5 percent renewable energy as part of their mix this year, and that requirement increases to 15 percent in 2025. The business is owned by the same parent company that owns Florida Power and Light, and it has built wind turbines in states for the last 20 years, Stengel said. At the same time various states are pledging to use more renewables, NextEra is finding a niche by supplying that power in bulk. "We believe that at some point in the future, there will be a price on carbon," Stengel said.
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Old Posted Sep 26, 2010, 4:35 PM
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With its Mountain Campus enrollment expected to reach 25,000 by 2020, NAU will be a perpetual construction zone over the next 10 years as it addresses issues ranging from student housing to traffic circulation, becoming an even larger segment of greater Flagstaff's population:



NAU's north campus, with Reilly Hall in foreground
(source: http://www.nau.edu/text/webcam.shtml)


Mountain Campus buildout a challenge to all
Arizona Daily Sun Editorial
September 26, 2010

Quick -- name the single, fastest-growing part of Flagstaff amid the recession. It's the NAU campus, of course, which has moved in a counter-cyclical direction to the region's economy. The larger question, however, is what happens on the Mountain Campus when the recession is over and how will it affect greater Flagstaff? NAU's recent growth is part of a national trend in higher education: As the economy contracts, there are fewer entry-level jobs, and those that come open are filled by older, more experienced workers laid off from higher-paying jobs, leaving new high school grads out in the cold. Instead, they have flocked to low-cost public universities and community colleges -- enrollment at the former is up an average of 6 percent in each of the past three years. At NAU, that figure is closer to 8 percent, thanks in part to aggressive marketing and a capped tuition plan. That's a cumulative increase of close to 30 percent in a few short years and, as Hillary Davis reports today, it has the Mountain Campus bursting at the seams.

But NAU isn't stopping there, recession or not. Driven in part by a Board of Regents mandate to increase dramatically the number of college graduates in Arizona, NAU officials have developed a master plan to hike enrollment on the Mountain Campus from 17,500 to 25,000 by 2020. That would be a doubling of the campus student population from what it was in 2005, accompanied by increases -- albeit less dramatic -- in faculty and staff. Meanwhile, the estimated population of greater Flagstaff in those 15 years, minus the college students, isn't likely to grow more than 20 percent, if that much, according to the Census and other estimates. Further, the non-college-student population of greater Flagstaff, in real numbers, is today just 60,000. Even if it reaches 75,000 by 2020, that means 25,000 college students would make up fully a quarter of the total regional population of 100,000. In other words, if Flagstaff is considered a "college town" today, it will certainly be even more so 10 years from now.

PERPETUAL CONSTRUCTION ZONE

What will all that growth mean to local residents? Let's break it down into several categories. First, there is the buildout on the Mountain Campus. Currently, there is 3.25 million square feet of existing academic and support facilities. With a cumulative projected increase in enrollment of more than 36 percent by 2020, the Flagstaff campus will need to add 1.2 million square feet of new buildings, in addition to the renovation or replacement of more than 500,000 square feet of existing substandard facilities. Add to that an extensive realignment of streets and the creation of new parks and "greenways," and the Mountain Campus is going to be a perpetual construction zone from one end to the other for the next decade. That is good news for the local construction industry, assuming it gets its fair share of the contracts. But for anyone trying to drive a private vehicle onto or through campus, the congestion is likely to mean a much longer trip than was the case just a few short years ago.

FEWER PARKING TICKETS?

That leads us to the second impact, which is traffic. On campus, there will be a dedicated north-south busway that connects to the city's Mountain Line bus system. Existing parking lots near the center of campus will be eliminated in favor of more outlying parking garages. At least local residents whose main contact with NAU has been the parking ticket enforcement office won't have to worry -- they simply won't be able to drive onto campus anymore. But what about all those extra students driving around town on already congested city streets? We can only hope they will take more buses. The plus side is that they will be spending more money on food, clothing and electronics, which benefits local retailers.

The housing issue is a little more serious. Right now, NAU can house about half its 17,500 students on campus. Plans call for adding only about 1,000 more beds in 10 years while the student population grows by 7,500. That means that by 2020, there will be more than 13,000 students looking for housing in the community, where rents are already among the highest in the state. With that kind of increased demand, the pressure to convert single-family houses to multi-student rentals will only increase, driving up the cost of housing in Flagstaff still further -- including for incoming faculty. If ever there was a need for a town-gown partnership to develop new, affordable housing on a massive scale, this is it. Otherwise, unaffordable housing will continue to be the single biggest drag on the city's ability to attract and keep new businesses.

EVEN MORE TOWN-GOWN COLLABORATION

Finally, a word about scale and process. We preface these remarks by reiterating our enthusiasm for Flagstaff as a true college town. From its sports teams and its commitment to diversity to its support for cultural events and the venues in which to hold them, NAU remains an asset that any small city in the Mountain West would love to have. We'd only ask that as its impact on the Flagstaff region's economy and infrastructure grows even more, it takes the extra step to include the locals in its planning. The 2010 master plan lists only a city planner and regional planner among the two dozen people credited with putting it together -- not a single local business or civic leader. We talked last week in this space about the need for even more town-gown collaboration and partnerships. When the campus master plan is next updated, we hope to see a broader list of names on the acknowledgements page.

Serving this week on the Daily's Sun's Editorial Advisory Board were Publisher Don Rowley, Editor Randy Wilson and citizen members Barb Cage, Joy Staveley, William Lowell Putnam, Cyndy Woods-Wilson, Steve Robinson, Joyce R. Browning and Kurt Wildermuth.



2010 Mountain Campus Master Plan

Phase 1 - First Moves

The 2010 master plan began with several projects under construction, beginning renovations, or in planning and development, including the Health and Learning facility, renovation of the Skydome, and the new Native American Cultural Center. This first phase also identified work required to enable new building projects to proceed or to demolish or replace existing substandard facilities, including replacement of aging boilers and the upgrading of the data/telecommunications center in the north plant.

Critical first moves included identifying sites for the continued expansion and replacement of laboratory facilities within the sciences core, and for a shared academic resources building, with classroom and flexible office space, to facilitate replacement of the math, geology and science buildings. The transit spine will also be part of the first phase implementation, along with a major parking garage on San Francisco (after demolition of the Fronske Health Center). New housing on campus, provided by a private developer, will initially add 576 beds in apartment-type housing on the east side of San Francisco, and an additional 500 beds in suite-type units on the proposed pedway bridge to the south campus. Along with the transit spine, planned improvements to the pedway will improve circulation across the campus for more efficient utilization of academic resources in both the north and south campus cores.

PHASE 2 - The Next 10+ Years

The next phase looks at meeting the enrollment growth goals of the 2020 plan, with expanded academic research and housing space. While the new academic facilities in the first phase were primarily in the north core, this phase expands facilities in the south core, allowing demolition of several substandard buildings. Infill projects in mid-campus serve to connect the academic cores and enliven the pedway with active uses. New housing includes the removal of central surface parking lots and replacing Runke Drive with a central greenway, Observatory Way, connecting housing east of San Francisco to the central pedway.


https://www4.nau.edu/cas/Plan-Dev/CampusPlanning.html
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Old Posted Oct 1, 2010, 7:17 PM
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Although a few improvements are in the works for this year, Snowbowl owners are hopeful that a court ruling expected in late October will allow them to have snowmaking in place for the 2011-12 season:



The Aspen Nature Loop sits on a plot of ground that will be impacted by
increased development of the Arizona Snowbowl. The loop is just below the
lower parking area at the Arizona Snowbowl. Development maps show a new
snow tubing area will be built at the site.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


Ski area cleared to build
by CYNDY COLE
Arizona Daily Sun
October 1, 2010

Arizona Snowbowl has been cleared to add a conveyor-belt-type device to carry beginning skiers uphill, and to log a new ski trail. Coconino National Forest District Ranger Mike Elson signed off on the plans Sept. 24. Arizona Snowbowl plans to add the 150-foot-long conveyor belt this fall and regrade a 1.5-acre area due north of its lower lodge with bulldozers to create a flatter teaching area. The owners plan to use the conveyor belt to save beginning skiers a walk uphill during lessons. They also plan to widen a lift line at the Spur Catwalk. Whether logging is feasible this year is less certain, given the late start to the project and the onset of winter weather in two months or less.

Despite the imminent start of construction, Snowbowl's owners remain in court with a second lawsuit. They are fighting a handful of local plaintiffs who assert that using reclaimed water to make snow might not be safe for skiers or the environment. As part of that case, both sides have agreed that no snowmaking-related construction would begin until after a ruling in federal district court in Phoenix. That is expected to happen in late October, said attorney for the plaintiffs Howard Shanker. Shanker has vowed to appeal any decision not in his favor to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Eric Borowsky, a Snowbowl part-owner, said that if he wins at the district court level this fall, he would start construction as soon as possible in order to make artificial snow in the winter of 2011-12. "We're hopeful that the judge will rule in our favor," Borowsky said. "And if she does, we'll probably start construction. If it happens to be a dry winter, we would start construction on the (water) pipeline from Highway 180 back to Thorpe Park almost immediately." Borowsky's attorneys are seeking to have the case thrown out on the grounds that some of the plaintiffs are obstructing any possible resolution by opposing either reclaimed or drinking water to make snow -- a position some of them openly acknowledged at the outset.

The plaintiffs suing the U.S. Forest Service since 2009 in this lawsuit are the Save the Peaks Coalition, Kristin Huisinga, Clayson Benally, Sylvan Grey, Don Fanning, Jeneda Benally, Frederica Hall, Berta Benally, Rachel Tso and Lisa Tso. Tribes suing the federal government to prevent snowmaking lost their argument that allowing more development would infringe on their religious freedoms in June 2009, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear their case, leaving in place a 9th Circuit ruling that allowed snowmaking.
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Old Posted Oct 9, 2010, 8:31 PM
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After rebuilding the Jay Lively Activity Center's collapsed roof with insurance proceeds, Flagstaff is hoping to expand the ice rink's seating, allowing NAU's hockey team to use the facility for Division I competition:



Area hockey clubs and teams raised money to have their logos laid under the ice in the
rebuilt Jay Lively Ice Rink. It will reopen for those clubs to practice for the first time today
after accumulated snow from a blizzard caused the roof to collapse last winter.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


A return to the ice
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
October 9, 2010

The happiness of children will be measured in tears and maybe blood this morning as dozens get their first chance to practice on the ice at the Jay Lively Activity Center since it closed in January. The city opened the ice rink to allow the Northern Arizona University hockey team, the Flagstaff Youth Hockey Association and the Flagstaff Figure Skating Club to begin practicing on the ice -- roughly two and half weeks before the public will be allowed back into Jay Lively.

In total, the city spent roughly $3 million to rebuild and make slight improvements to the city-owned ice rink. But taxpayers will not even spend a single dime on the reconstruction efforts. The city had an insurance policy covering Jay Lively for the full replacement value for the entire building when a portion of the roof collapsed last January. There was a $25,000 deductible the city had to pay, but that is now expected to be fully reimbursed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, city officials said. A recent tour of the ice rink shows much of the repairs to the once heavily damaged ice rink have been completed. The new roof was upgraded to hold roughly 53 pounds per square foot, nearly twice what the old roof was rated to hold.

Loven Construction, the general contractor in charge of rebuilding the rink, focused heavily on getting repairs done that would allow youth clubs to get back on the ice as soon as possible. Some members of the FYHA reportedly have been traveling to Phoenix to get time on the ice to practice this spring and summer. The NAU Ice Jacks recently spent three straight weekends holding tryouts and practicing in Tempe. The only remaining area still needing repairs is the main lobby, which crews were measuring on Thursday to put in new carpeting.

Fans, however, might recognize temporary seating ringing part of the rink. City officials have decided to use stands from the Thorpe Park ball field instead of using the old seats from the rink. Officials are hoping that by not permanently installing the old seats it will give a group of NAU alumni and other supporters of the hockey club the time to raise enough money this winter to buy new seats and expand total seating to 500. Increased seating next year could upgrade Jay Lively to Division 1 status, which would allow the NAU club hockey team to host games against larger rivals, including teams from the University of Arizona and Arizona State University.
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Old Posted Oct 10, 2010, 8:34 PM
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With the current public mood unfavorable for increasing taxes or other financial obligations, next month's election will ask voters to approve $86M in bonds for projects the city says are necessary for essential services:


City bond election: Big needs, big numbers
by JOE FERGUSON Arizona Daily Sun
October 10, 2010

The hard truth for city officials is that the four municipal bonds worth $86 million on the Nov. 2 ballot are going before the voters at the wrong time. After the county forced a new health district tax and the school district was largely silent on major increases in the primary property tax, voters are itching to say no to any perceived increase in their taxes. City officials contend the bond projects will not increase property taxes, are considered vital projects to continue to provide essential services and have been vetted by a community task force for the last year. The four bond projects are building a new public works yard, a new public safety radio system, street and utilities improvements, and a new city court/parking garage in downtown Flagstaff.

Fred Solop, professor and chair of the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, said public perception will play a large role for those voting in the general election. He said if voters clearly understand that the municipal projects are related to continuing to provide pre-existing services and will not raise the existing tax rate, they will likely be well-received by voters -- especially if voters understand that their tax rate will not change if they reject the bond items. Currently, city staff is recommending that the Flagstaff City Council not lower property taxes right away. Instead, staffers are suggesting the council approve accelerating bond payments to pay off all outstanding bond debt for the next seven years in light of the economic outlook created by declining revenues tied to sales tax and state contributions. Taxes would drop in 2017, but only if a future council doesn't get other bonds approved if this one fails.

City officials said the underlying problems for each bond issue -- poor roads, a overcrowding at the courthouse and an obsolete radio system -- will not go away. He said another council would presumably bring the issues back for another vote at another time. And they would likely cost more than they would today. The former director of the NAU Social Research Laboratory, Solop said if council decides to pay down the outstanding debt, voters will essentially be asked to choose between voting in favor of municipal improvements at the existing tax rate or no changes at the same tax rate.

City Manager Kevin Burke has been meeting with various groups for the past two months, pitching the Flagstaff City Council-approved bond projects to community leaders, civic groups and local business interests. He concedes the bond projects have been given a chilly response at least initially. Part of the reason, he said last week, is a perception in the public that previous-approved bond projects were handled poorly. Residents remind him of the forced merger of two-voter approved projects -- an aquatic center and multi-generational facility - into the Aquaplex, the repeated delays in building the Fourth Street Bridge, as well as roughly $17 million in cost overruns for the Wildcat wastewater treatment plant. "Mistakes were made in the past," Burke said. Burke said the city has taken the time to study each of the four bond projects in-depth to get a more accurate concept of how much each will cost and how long it will take to complete. Both the public works yard and new courthouse, for example, will require several years before a groundbreaking will occur. He says the projects will slowly move along as the city works to acquire land, design the buildings and sell off municipal bonds to fund the projects.

The bond questions were first brought before the council in the summer of 2009 and that council signaled support for a new public works yard and courthouse before sending a list of 23 possible bond projects to the 15-member citizen bond advisory task force. The task force whittled down the list to six projects, but the council would eventually reject an environmental study for using water from Red Gap Ranch and combine a capital project in Sunnyside with a proposal to fix streets and water lines in Flagstaff. A priority list of issues recently released by the Flagstaff City Council did not list any major capital projects.


City bond issues at a glance

Prop 401 - City courthouse, downtown parking garage

The $23 million project would quadruple the size of the current city courthouse as well as build a parking garage somewhere downtown. The existing courthouse is known to have numerous safety and structural issues as well as an inadequate amount of parking. The garage is expected to be open to the public on nights and weekends. Between property negotiations, building design and the phasing of selling bonds, it could take as long as 10 years before the courthouse is built.

Prop 402 - Public works yard
The $42 million project would move the existing public works yard out of downtown Flagstaff to probably a site in west Flagstaff near Woody Mountain Road. Currently, the city uses a modified horse barn built in 1913 to service more than 600 vehicles and pieces of equipment. Larger trucks too big to fit in the barn are serviced outside, regardless of weather, posing some safety concerns for employees. Between property negotiations, building design and the phasing of selling bonds, it could take as long as 10 years before the public works yard is built.

Prop 403 - New radio system for public safety, city operations
The $4.72 million bond would allow the city of Flagstaff to move from an obsolete analog system to a digital radio system that meets federal guidelines. The new system will allow better communication with outside agencies and allow the city to compete for Homeland Security grants.

Prop 404 - Street and utility improvements
The $16.5 million would be used to repair city roads, fix sidewalks and replace aging utility lines. The city has dozens of city blocks that have essentially scored the equivalent of an "F" in terms of condition, but a master list of projects that would be repaired has not been determined.
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Old Posted Oct 13, 2010, 7:57 PM
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Arizona's largest private employer continues to spread its wings.....


Supercenter sets Oct. 27 opening
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
October 13, 2010

More than five years after voters ratified it as referendum, a new Walmart Supercenter on Huntington Drive in Flagstaff is expected to open on Oct. 27. It will add 325 jobs, new choices for local shoppers and a much-needed boost in tax revenues for the cash-strapped city. The new store is significantly smaller than the two-story Supercenter initially planned for the 15.6-acre site, which is next to the Outback Steakhouse. Over the years, the floor plans for the store have been scaled back from an initial 212,000 square feet to 114,000 square feet -- barely larger than the Walmart retail store in west Flagstaff.

Store manager Steve Curry said the company expects the store to open in two weeks, with a grocery section the same size as other Walmart Supercenters. He said other departments were made smaller after the company officials nixed an unusual two-story design. The world's largest retailer hired roughly 325 employees to keep the new location open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Employees are currently stocking shelves to prepare for opening day. But the retailer still has construction crews working around the clock to finish road improvements on Huntington Drive to accommodate an estimated 8,000 additional vehicle trips per day.

The scaled-back retail/grocery store will be the third store operated by retail giant in Flagstaff. There is a Walmart store on Woodlands Village Boulevard and a membership-only retail warehouse Sam's Club off Butler Avenue. Walmart officials have repeatedly stated they have no plans to close the westside location after the new store opens. The company reportedly sank nearly $1 million into a major renovation of the Flagstaff Sam's Club less than a year ago. Changes included upgrading the café, pharmacy, bakery, tire showroom and digital photo center, as well as modernizing most areas of the warehouse to reflect the company's new logo and branding.
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Old Posted Oct 16, 2010, 7:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneui View Post
With the current public mood unfavorable for increasing taxes or other financial obligations, next month's election will ask voters to approve $86M in bonds for projects the city says are necessary for essential services:


City bond election: Big needs, big numbers
by JOE FERGUSON Arizona Daily Sun
October 10, 2010

The hard truth for city officials is that the four municipal bonds worth $86 million on the Nov. 2 ballot are going before the voters at the wrong time. After the county forced a new health district tax and the school district was largely silent on major increases in the primary property tax, voters are itching to say no to any perceived increase in their taxes. City officials contend the bond projects will not increase property taxes, are considered vital projects to continue to provide essential services and have been vetted by a community task force for the last year. The four bond projects are building a new public works yard, a new public safety radio system, street and utilities improvements, and a new city court/parking garage in downtown Flagstaff.

Fred Solop, professor and chair of the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University, said public perception will play a large role for those voting in the general election. He said if voters clearly understand that the municipal projects are related to continuing to provide pre-existing services and will not raise the existing tax rate, they will likely be well-received by voters -- especially if voters understand that their tax rate will not change if they reject the bond items. Currently, city staff is recommending that the Flagstaff City Council not lower property taxes right away. Instead, staffers are suggesting the council approve accelerating bond payments to pay off all outstanding bond debt for the next seven years in light of the economic outlook created by declining revenues tied to sales tax and state contributions. Taxes would drop in 2017, but only if a future council doesn't get other bonds approved if this one fails.

City officials said the underlying problems for each bond issue -- poor roads, a overcrowding at the courthouse and an obsolete radio system -- will not go away. He said another council would presumably bring the issues back for another vote at another time. And they would likely cost more than they would today. The former director of the NAU Social Research Laboratory, Solop said if council decides to pay down the outstanding debt, voters will essentially be asked to choose between voting in favor of municipal improvements at the existing tax rate or no changes at the same tax rate.

City Manager Kevin Burke has been meeting with various groups for the past two months, pitching the Flagstaff City Council-approved bond projects to community leaders, civic groups and local business interests. He concedes the bond projects have been given a chilly response at least initially. Part of the reason, he said last week, is a perception in the public that previous-approved bond projects were handled poorly. Residents remind him of the forced merger of two-voter approved projects -- an aquatic center and multi-generational facility - into the Aquaplex, the repeated delays in building the Fourth Street Bridge, as well as roughly $17 million in cost overruns for the Wildcat wastewater treatment plant. "Mistakes were made in the past," Burke said. Burke said the city has taken the time to study each of the four bond projects in-depth to get a more accurate concept of how much each will cost and how long it will take to complete. Both the public works yard and new courthouse, for example, will require several years before a groundbreaking will occur. He says the projects will slowly move along as the city works to acquire land, design the buildings and sell off municipal bonds to fund the projects.

The bond questions were first brought before the council in the summer of 2009 and that council signaled support for a new public works yard and courthouse before sending a list of 23 possible bond projects to the 15-member citizen bond advisory task force. The task force whittled down the list to six projects, but the council would eventually reject an environmental study for using water from Red Gap Ranch and combine a capital project in Sunnyside with a proposal to fix streets and water lines in Flagstaff. A priority list of issues recently released by the Flagstaff City Council did not list any major capital projects.


City bond issues at a glance

Prop 401 - City courthouse, downtown parking garage

The $23 million project would quadruple the size of the current city courthouse as well as build a parking garage somewhere downtown. The existing courthouse is known to have numerous safety and structural issues as well as an inadequate amount of parking. The garage is expected to be open to the public on nights and weekends. Between property negotiations, building design and the phasing of selling bonds, it could take as long as 10 years before the courthouse is built.

Prop 402 - Public works yard
The $42 million project would move the existing public works yard out of downtown Flagstaff to probably a site in west Flagstaff near Woody Mountain Road. Currently, the city uses a modified horse barn built in 1913 to service more than 600 vehicles and pieces of equipment. Larger trucks too big to fit in the barn are serviced outside, regardless of weather, posing some safety concerns for employees. Between property negotiations, building design and the phasing of selling bonds, it could take as long as 10 years before the public works yard is built.

Prop 403 - New radio system for public safety, city operations
The $4.72 million bond would allow the city of Flagstaff to move from an obsolete analog system to a digital radio system that meets federal guidelines. The new system will allow better communication with outside agencies and allow the city to compete for Homeland Security grants.

Prop 404 - Street and utility improvements
The $16.5 million would be used to repair city roads, fix sidewalks and replace aging utility lines. The city has dozens of city blocks that have essentially scored the equivalent of an "F" in terms of condition, but a master list of projects that would be repaired has not been determined.
Definitely voting yes on 401. You wouldn't know the City Courthouse existed without a large sign out front saying "Flagstaff Municipal Court." Looks like a dingy tavern from the outside instead of a government building.

The inside's no picnic either. Way too cramped.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2010, 9:06 PM
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While some residents fear their quiet neighborhoods are at risk under the city's proposed zoning code changes, others say Flagstaff's labyrinthine and subjective development review process is long overdue for a revision:



Roger Eastman, Flagstaff's zoning code administrator, sits on a traffic control
planter at the intersection of Columbus Avenue and Leroux Street holding a
copy of a proposed new land development code.
(photo: Jake Bacon)


Room for retail? Proposed zoning changes under fire
by JOE FERGUSON
Arizona Daily Sun
October 17, 2010

For all practical purposes, there are three land development codes in Flagstaff -- the current code, a proposed revised code and the one that everyone else thinks we have. A draft rewrite of the 1991 code, completed last month by city staffers and outside consultants, seeks to simplify the existing code and better reflect the Flagstaff Area Regional Land Use and Transportation Plan. The code, according to the city, is essentially a "cookbook" of rules and regulations to guide all development. One proposal in the rewrite would change the underlying zoning in various residential areas, including one of Flagstaff's oldest neighborhoods north of downtown, to promote more walkability by mixing in small grocers with homes. The initial proposal would change the current zoning to allow for small grocery stores of up to 5,000 square feet.

North downtown homeowners are upset, contending the retail businesses would change the historic character of the neighborhood and revisions were done without their input. Malcolm Mackey has lived in a home on North Leroux since 1927 and can remember a handful of corner grocery stores. He said the stores never had much traction, recalling that his mother walked past them to shop at a corner market in downtown Flagstaff.

CAMEL'S NOSE UNDER THE TENT

But Mackey is deeply suspicious of the intent of city staffers, saying the law permitting a grocery store could lead to other retail uses like coffee shops, cell phone stores or small restaurants. He said the traffic from, say, a Starbucks would bring unwanted traffic and noise into the quiet neighborhood he has fought for years to protect. "The camel's nose is in the tent," he said. Mackey was part of a group of property owners in 1998 that successfully lobbied the Flagstaff City Council to down-zone the entire neighborhood to "medium-density residential." The change was sought mainly to discourage continued rezoning of residential properties dating back to the early 1900s into commercial properties. However, existing commercial properties were grandfathered in and exempt from the new zoning.

The city's zoning code administrator and one of the chief authors of the new zoning code, Roger Eastman, said the new zoning designation was designed to be written only to allow in neighborhood grocery stores, not any other use. He said the intent was to follow the existing regional plan, which promotes the idea of walkable neighborhoods through the use of stores to serve the needs of the neighborhood, rather than having residents get in their cars and drive to the store. The city's planning and zoning commission has already weighed in on the controversy, recommending that the city allow much smaller grocery stores and only if a conditional use permit has been issued. That process, better known as a CUP, would allow residents to weigh in on proposed businesses. The recommendation will eventually go to the Flagstaff City Council, which has the ultimate authority on whether to adopt the commission's advice. Paul Dutton, who lives a block away from Mackey, said he was satisfied with the recommendation. He said he went to Tuesday night's planning and zoning commission meeting with the hope of finding a compromise. "I think the solution they found will work for our neighborhood and I am assuming a lot of other people across town would find appropriate," Dutton said.

LIMITED UNDER STATE LAW

A relatively new state law, best known by its ballot initiative name Prop 207, forces cities and municipalities to compensate property owners when more restrictive zoning is adopted. It has complicated the city's ability to reduce the number of existing designations -- currently 45 -- to a more manageable number. Eastman said the city had only a few choices as it sought to reduce the overall number of zoning categories contained in the land development code. He said the decision to allow local markets in residential areas came from within city planning employees. He said the idea was to promote small markets to serve the neighborhood. "It was a staff decision," Eastman said. "The O'Leary Street Market (in Southside) was the model."

Two-term Councilmember Scott Overton has been pushing for the rewrite of the development codes for the years, noting it was a campaign pledge when he first ran for office in 2006. Overton, a local building contractor, said confusion about the code has haunted planners, builders and contractors here -- many with their own stories on how labyrinthine and subjective the code really is. "People became subject to a land development code subject to interpretation," Overton said. "So depending on who your counter staff might be or your project manager or your developer, or how much money they might have had .... would move your project or your project might stall." Overton said developers and city staff quickly learned to manipulate the system to benefit themselves. He hopes a revised code would be more equitable for both sides. Locals point to individual cases held up for years at the development review board, demands for expensive set-asides and excessive resource protection requests. One urban legend -- since disproved -- had the city forcing a developer to build a home around a tree in the middle of a lot.

ROBUST LEGAL PRACTICE

Land use attorney Bill Ring has built a robust practice helping developers understand the city's land development codes and to work with the development review board. He predicts the new code will continue to be difficult for a builder from another community to understand. He said while the city reduced a number of zoning classifications, it has added several new zoning overlays over portions of Flagstaff. This has the effect of adding a new layer of zoning regulations (or exemptions) over a parcel of land, he explains. Ring does have praise for one of the changes in the new code: how natural resource protection is estimated.

The city has required developers building on vegetated lots to preserve a portion of the existing trees and shrubs, but Ring said the city used an unnecessarily complex formula to calculate which trees needed to be saved and which ones could be cut down. Ring said this often led to builders redesigning where the home would be placed on a lot or where a driveway might connect to the road. He believes the new code is far more practical.

A FAVORITE TREE

Ring does, in fact, know about the house built around the tree. It exists, but the city had no role in the unusual design. The owner simply wanted to keep the tree, he said Both the council and planning commission will continue to review changes to the development codes over the course of the next few months, with implementation of the code expected next spring.
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Old Posted Oct 17, 2010, 9:21 PM
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400 acres originally slated for a residential development have been sold to the Navajo Nation for its proposed casino near Twin Arrows, 20 miles east of Flagstaff:


Navajo Nation acquires casino land
by CYNDY COLE
Arizona Daily Sun
October 16, 2010

The Navajo Nation's gaming branch has purchased a little more than 400 acres of private land near Twin Arrows east of Flagstaff for $7.4 million, and it is intended for the coming casino. This is some of the same land that was formerly proposed to become the 660-home Padre Canyon Trails subdivision before Coconino County officials denied development plans by Tucson-based developers. With help from a federal agency that has helped to relocate tribal families caught in a decades-old land dispute, the casino land is now effectively becoming part of the 27,000-square-mile Navajo Nation reservation.

If contracts are let this year, this would become the tribe's fourth casino, following the opening Wednesday of another east of Shiprock and a third under construction in Upper Fruitland, N.M. Planning for the land purchase has been in the works since at least September 2009, according to documents filed with Coconino County. In January of this year, the developers who wanted to build Padre Canyon Trails filed paperwork to undo a subdivision they had unsuccessfully sought from the county. In March, the Navajo-Hopi Land Commission selected the Twin Arrows Parcel for purchase, according to documents filed with the Coconino County Recorder. The land will ultimately be owned by the United States and held in trust for the Navajo Nation, adding to the reservation. "The Navajo Nation has the ability to put land into trust through the relocation program," said Chris Bavasi, executive director of the congressionally established Office of Navajo and Hopi Indian Relocation. He said no federal money was being used to build the casino.

In August, the Tucson developers formerly behind Padre Canyon sold 408 acres to the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise for $7.4 million in cash, according to documents filed with the county. The enterprise also paid a neighboring family $50,000 for 2 1/2 acres to access the private land. Days later, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise then executed a "special warranty deed conveying fee land" that transferred the land to the Navajo Nation. The land transfer document states that "the Twin Arrows parcel shall be used solely for the benefit of Navajo families residing on Hopi partitioned lands awaiting relocation," in line with federal law written amid a Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation land dispute. There were 3,700 individuals relocated as a result of that dispute, Bavasi said. It was signed by the chief executive officer of the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, Bob Winter. Winter had said the tribe was seeking to break ground on a $180 million resort and casino near Twin Arrows this fall back in March, with a golf course. He has scaled that back somewhat, to $120 million, in reports to other news agencies.
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*Development projects in metro Tucson and Flagstaff, Arizona

Last edited by kaneui; Oct 18, 2010 at 2:32 AM.
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