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eNewsletter – published April 11, 2014

ADOT is persistent

ADOT continues to say they will produce the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) this summer. Jim Jochim, PARC Treasurer, makes clear in an article in the Ahwatukee Foothills News on April 6th, that ADOT probably cannot reach that goal if they take the more than 8000 public comments they received seriously. It would take a substantial amount of time for ADOT to analyze and properly respond to these public comments, including more than 300 pages of PARC comments. If ADOT chooses to do a “quick and dirty” response to all these comments, that is their prerogative. Unresponsiveness will just give PARC more ammunition for when we take ADOT to court.

PARC preparing to take our case to the Phoenix City Council

After a flurry of outdoor events through the winter months, PARC will take to mostly indoor activities now. Last year, we spent some effort taking our case to the governing boards for our school districts, and we succeeded in getting support from both the Kyrene and Tempe Union districts for a “no build” on the freeway. Now we have a more daunting challenge – trying to get support from our Phoenix City Council.

It seems that Mayor Greg Stanton and our City Council are content with playing the politics of taking no stance on important issues like the SMF. Rather than seeking information on what the SMF would do TO as well as FOR the city, they are content with letting the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and ADOT run the show – something like the tail wagging the dog. Phoenix has a powerful voice in MAG, and ADOT’s role is to implement the regional transportation plan developed by MAG. Yet our City Council is sitting by and letting MAG run amok with plans that would, among other things, engulf our metropolitan area in LA-like pollution.

Our Ahwatukee representative on the City Council, Sal DiCiccio, is a member of PARC, yet he makes no public statements about the SMF. Reports are that he takes a pro-freeway stance to freeway supporters. We know he has a conflict of interest because he owns property at Pecos and 40th Street.

Mayor Stanton was once the Ahwatukee representative to the City Council. In that capacity, he made the famous statement that the SMF would be built “over my dead body.” Yet now that he is mayor, he is silent. It seems he is just another politician who does not mean what he says. He just wants to say what will garner him the most support. Well, Mayor Stanton, unless you change your tune, you can no longer count on support from Ahwatukee because your silence has betrayed us! And in so doing, you have betrayed all of Phoenix! While ADOT is lying to everyone about what a great thing this SMF would be for our Valley, you and our City Council are supporting the Great South Mountain Freeway Fraud by your silence!

Enough! ADOT continues to say what people want to hear – that the SMF would improve traffic congestion and air pollution. But we know those ADOT promises are lies, and we have exposed them in our well-documented comments to ADOT. No matter. ADOT continues to say those things and people continue to believe them because that is what they want to believe. It is time for PARC to make the case to the City Council and insist that they pay attention to the realities of the proposed SMF:

  • No traffic congestion relief
  • Greatly increased truck traffic in the Phoenix area
  • Increased valley-wide pollution, with Ahwatukee becoming a mini-LA
  • Over 14,000 children in 10 Ahwatukee schools near the SMF with a significantly increased risk of major health problems
  • Destruction of 3 ridges of South Mountain, including part of South Mountain Park and Preserve
  • Significant risk of disastrous hazmat spill in Ahwatukee
  • Severe increase in crime in Ahwatukee

We can back up each of these points and more, and we think it would be most effective if we make our case in a series of 3-minute talks to Mayor Stanton and the City Council, with each 3-miinute segment presented by a different PARC member.

If you would like to be a part of this presentation series, please let us know (with a return email, a Facebook post, or other). We are currently expecting a visit to the City Council sometime in May or June.

 
 
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eNewsletter – published March 14, 2014

Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) due this Summer

We have every reason to believe that ADOT wants to put the FEIS out as quickly as they can. Yet they have delayed the document delivery from February to April and now to mid-summer. This is a good indication that they are having difficulty in finding answers to the 8000 responses they got to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) from last year. Yet it also means that they continue trying to find answers – whether they are reasonable or not – to justify their South Mountain Freeway (SMF). It will be interesting to see what kind of new approach they use in the FEIS to try to make the SMF seem like a good idea. Whatever it is, we will be ready for it.

Once the FEIS is out, we will be able to definitively refute ADOT’s best ideas – those that supposedly have fixed all the problems previously identified. That will give us not only the ammunition we need to use in court to stop the freeway, but it will also give us the opportunity to examine possibilities for filing fraud charges against ADOT and/or MAG (the Maricopa Association of Governments) for the dishonest way this freeway has been thrust upon the public.

Stay tuned. And don’t forget to donate to help us get ready for our next expensive step – reviewing the FEIS! Mail checks to: PARC, PO Box 50455, Phoenix, AZ 85076-0455

Freeway update at public meeting

On Wednesday evening, February 19th, PARC provided another of its public updates on the SMF at the Club West HOA Club House. The meeting provided a forum for discussing the current status of the freeway process, future PARC funding, and a question and answer session.

  Transportation Day
   

Transportation Day at God’s Garden Preschool

PARC had a booth at Transportation Day on Saturday, February 22nd. It was a beautiful day and a great event, with an estimated 3000 to 4000 people in attendance. We continue to find many people who are unaware of the SMF or who think it is a “done deal”, so many new people were informed that day. The preschool raised about $20,000 at the event, and we also raised $300 for PARC.

  volunteers
   
   

Walk to Save Pecos Road

It started out as a rainy day in the early morning of Saturday, March 1st. By the time of the walk, however, it was just a cloudy, nice day and the walk went off without a hitch. The attendance was not what we had hoped for (why are Arizonans so afraid of the rain?), but we still had a great group of volunteers and walkers who showed up along with some who just stopped by to donate to Save Pecos Road.

Many thanks to the Arizona Senior Olympics (ASO) for taking care of all the logistics of the event, including getting Pecos Road closed to traffic. The ASO had a great event and so did PARC. We made $700 that morning.

  Money Mailer
   

More ways to spread the word about PARC and the SMF

We are working on even more ways to get the word out about the SMF. Recently, you may have seen PARC information in the Money Mailer.

Click to view (printable pdf).

 
 
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eNewsletter – published Feb. 13, 2014

Mark these dates:

  • Wednesday, February 19th, 7:00pm – PARC Public Meeting
  • Saturday, February 22nd, 9:00am – Transportation Day
  • Saturday, March 1st, 9:00am – Walk to Save Pecos Road
sweetheart hike

Sweetheart Hike on Saturday, February 9th stressed love of South Mountain

Over 70 people participated in the Sweetheart Hike that PARC organized for the love of the mountain. Everyone seemed to really enjoy the hike. PARC shuttle drivers made sure everyone got to the trailheads and then back to their cars after the hike.

PARC’s objectives were to raise some funds and spread the word about the need to save South Mountain from the ill effects of the freeway. We collected over $1300 from hike donations. Not only did the Ahwatukee Foothills News provide front-page coverage before the hike, but ABC Channel 15 had some nice coverage on their news the evening of the hike as well.

PARC to update public about freeway fight at Club West HOA Club House

On Wednesday evening, February 19th at 7:00pm in the Club West HOA Club House at 16400 S. 14th Ave., PARC will provide another of their updates to the public regarding the current status of freeway issues. We covered much of this in our last newsletter, but the public meeting gives everyone a chance to see and hear from those in PARC who are engaged in the freeway fight. It also provides a forum for questions and answers.

Although no one likes to have to talk about fundraising, it is an important aspect of winning our fight against ADOT. At the meeting, we will discuss the importance of HOA donations as well as individual donations. No one needs to donate a lot as long as a lot donate.

save Pecos flyer
Click to view (printable pdf).

Don’t forget the Walk to Save Pecos Road on Saturday, March 1st

We provided details about this event in our Save South Mountain newsletter distributed January 13th. You can find a copy of this newsletter on PARC’s website.

Don’t forget to get sponsors for the walk. Sponsors can either pledge a certain amount per kilometer or just a lump sum. All sponsor funds raised will go to PARC, so sponsor checks should be made out to PARC.

eNewsletter – published Jan. 29, 2014

Mark these dates:

  • Saturday, February 8th, 8:00am – Sweetheart Hike – for the Love of South Mountain
  • Wednesday, February 19th, 7:00-8:30 pm – Meeting to Update the Public (details next time)
  • Saturday, February 22nd, 9:00am – Transportation Day (PARC booth – details next time)
  • Saturday, March 1st, 9:00am – Walk to Save Pecos Road
cut thru mountain
See PDF for full-size images.

Hike on Saturday, January 18th a huge success

Over 50 people showed up to hike the Bursera Trail on South Mountain’s Main Ridge South to see where the freeway would destroy the two main South Mountain ridges. After a 2 mile hike up the trail, we came to an overlook where we could see the ends of both the Main Ridge North and the Main Ridge South. The north ridge would be cut through by the South Mountain Freeway 220′ deep and wide enough for 8 lanes of traffic plus a median, shoulders, and ditches to catch falling rocks. The south ridge would get a 190′ deep cut with the same width. The third ridge that would be cut is the Alta Ridge, which would get a 70′ cut, but it was not visible on this hike.

The Sweetheart Hike – for the Love of South Mountain is Saturday, February 8thWith the number of people who came to an informal hike (see above), we expect a good turnout for our much more advertised Sweetheart Hike. See our previous newsletter for more details about this hike.trail
Freeway update – PARC working for youAlthough you have been hearing about the South Mountain Freeway (SMF) for a long time, it’s time for a current status, complete with a reminder of how we got here.When ADOT released their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the SMF in April 2013, PARC brought together several experts in various areas covered by the DEIS. These experts examined the document and provided comments on any issues that they saw. They found more problems with ADOT’s DEIS than anyone expected, and that information was detailed in PARC’s 318-page response to the DEIS.Of particular interest is that PARC’s traffic engineering experts have determined that the SMF would result in no appreciable improvement in traffic congestion anywhere, including on the I-10 and on arterial streets.Further, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) examined the DEIS and came to the same conclusion as PARC’s air quality experts: ADOT does not know how (or chooses not) to do proper air quality modeling. Hence, EPA gave the DEIS its lowest possible rating – inadequate. Correct modeling shows that air pollution would get worse rather than better, particularly in Ahwatukee and the West Valley.PARC’s expert on the health effects of air pollution determined that children attending schools within ½ mile of the SMF would have inhibited lung growth and development and be at high risk for developing or worsening asthma. Ten Ahwatukee schools with over 14,000 students are within ½ mile of the proposed SMF route.

Today, Ahwatukee has virtually no threat from hazardous materials. The SMF would bring many gasoline tankers from the 51st Ave “tank farm” as well as numerous other hazmats carrying sulfuric acid and chlorine gas. These would pose a significant threat in case of an accident on the SMF truck bypass. Even ADOT admits that 10% of the 135,000 vehicles on the SMF every day would be trucks – that’s 13,500 trucks per day. It’s not unreasonable to expect that at least 1000 of these would be hazmats. Sooner or later, this is a recipe for disaster – literally. A chlorine gas spill in Ahwatukee could be fatal for thousands of residents, especially those within 1 to 3 miles of the spill. The DEIS doesn’t even have a plan for how to deal with a hazmat disaster on the SMF.

Currently, PARC is waiting for ADOT to respond to the more than 8000 comments they received on their DEIS, including the PARC and EPA comments. ADOT must detail in a final EIS (FEIS) how they propose to fix the problems that were identified. This FEIS is now expected around late July or early August of 2014. Once ADOT releases it, PARC will have this FEIS examined again by the experts to see where ADOT’s response is acceptable and where ADOT continues to fall short.

The process of closely examining ADOT’s proposal and requiring all problems to be fixed helps all citizens of the Phoenix metropolitan area. If any freeway problems cannot be mitigated, then the freeway should not be built.

PARC expects that ADOT will not be able to mitigate all the problems of the SMF nor will they be able to show a need for the freeway. Hence, PARC is preparing to take ADOT to court to stop the SMF and save Pecos Road and South Mountain. PARC believes that stopping this freeway will be a service to all Phoenix area citizens who have a stake in the health and well being of their community and its natural resources.

To complete its mission, however, PARC needs to raise a significant amount of additional money. We already spent $100,000 for expert and legal fees just to review the DEIS, and we estimate we will need at least $500,000 total to see this issue all the way through to a “no build” decision. We must once again pay to have the FEIS reviewed, for it is the findings of the DEIS and FEIS reviews that result in ADOT improving their plans for the SMF. These findings also establish the grounds for suing ADOT in court when their plans continue to be unacceptable. Court and legal fees will comprise the remainder of the estimated total cost.

What if the SMF is resolved soon and/or PARC raises more money than is needed?Some people still hold out hope that the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC) will agree to put the SMF on their land. PARC thinks the chances are extremely slim that the GRIC would change their minds and agree to this. Perhaps more importantly, even if the GRIC wanted the SMF on their land, the chances are a lot slimmer yet that ADOT would be interested. ADOT’s interest is in the current process, which is for the SMF to be built on Pecos Road and through South Mountain. ADOT will likely see this proposal through to its final resting place in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.We cannot completely ignore the possibility that we could have a quicker resolution, however, even if the odds are about the same as the odds of winning the lottery. After all, people do win the lottery. Of course, if we could feel confident that someone in PARC would win the lottery, we wouldn’t need to do any fundraising. We would just wait until the lottery was won and ask the winner to fund PARC with what it needs (it should be a very welcome tax write-off). That’s not very realistic, however, and neither is the possibility that PARC won’t need every penny it raises. Nevertheless, let’s look at the process and the funding expectations.PARC is currently experiencing a steady trickle of donations, mostly due to the fact that we have been continuing to have fund-raising events. This rate of donations is allowing us to maintain our web site, to continue to accept credit card donations, to produce this newsletter, and to continue to prepare for our upcoming fight with ADOT.When ADOT puts out their next document, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), PARC will again need to have it examined by experts, and that process will cost about another $100,000. So do we wait until the FEIS is released before we try to raise that much money? We believe that to wait would be foolish since it would be nice to have some resources we can count on when we need them.Last year, PARC got significant financial help from several HOAs when funding was needed for reviewing the DEIS. These same HOAs are already considering ways that they may be able to assist with the funding for the FEIS review as well. HOA funding is extremely important, but it is not enough by itself. It is the combination of HOA donations and individual donations that will make our work possible. Are you prepared to help?

If you want to wait until after the FEIS has been released to donate, we suggest that you start to put money aside now so you can be prepared to donate promptly when the time comes. We need whatever you can afford and as often as you can afford it. $10, $25, $100, more? Weekly, biweekly, monthly? Can you forgo one latte once a week? One evening per month of taking the family out to dinner? Anything else that you could forgo and never miss?

Do you have trouble keeping the money you have put aside for a special purpose? How about opening a savings account just for that purpose? Or keeping an envelope in your desk where you slip money as you save it on a regular basis (but don’t tell anyone else where it is and don’t rob it from time to time either)? Then when the money is needed, you will have it! Or – if you don’t really think that saving will work for you – just donate to PARC on a regular basis!

Funding the continued review of the SMF documents is critical for your home, the well-being of your family, and the well-being of Ahwatukee as a community. We are counting on you!

Oh, and what would happen if PARC really did end up with a surplus? We would have a meeting of all members (that’s everyone who has donated) to decide.

eNewsletter – published Jan. 13, 2014

Mark these dates:

Arizona Deserttruck pollution

Would you like to see where the freeway would destroy South Mountain ridges?

When: Saturday, January 18th, 9:00am

Where: Chandler Blvd at 19th Ave (Chandler dead-ends here)

Why: To see where the freeway would destroy 3 ridges of South Mountain

Amenities: None

Some PARC members will be meeting to hike to the top of the Bursera Trail. From this vantage point, one can see across the top of the west end of South Mountain and see where the freeway is planned to cut through. There is no need to let anyone know if you plan to attend. Just be sure to be there by 9:00. No fees, but also no amenities. Come prepared for a 3.6 mile hike up and down the mountain. It will be moderately strenuous. PARC T-shirts will be available for those who want to donate at that time.

Hike with us – for the Love of South MountainWhen: Saturday, February 8th, 8:00amWhere: Starting at the Telegraph Pass trailhead (Desert Foothills Pkwy & 7th St, north of Chandler Blvd)Parking: Desert Foothills Park (on SW Marketplace, just west of Desert Foothills Pkwy and just south of Chandler Blvd)Shuttle Service: Desert Foothills Park to and from trailheadsWhy: Fundraiser for PARC because we want to save South Mountain

Donation (get a “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirt):

  • $20 Individual (1 T-shirt)
  • $30 Couple (2 T-shirts)
  • $40 Family (4 T-shirts)

Registration: Prepay donations on our website, include “hike” along with T-shirt size(s) in the description

Amenities: Restrooms – yes; Water – yes; Food – no

If you like to hike, this is for you. Hikers will start at the Telegraph Pass trailhead, then proceed at their own pace and hike their own distance. The main hike will go up the Telegraph Pass trail, follow the National Trail west, and then come down the Pyramid Trail to end at the 19th Ave and Chandler Blvd trailhead. Hikers who wish something a little less strenuous can come back down the Telegraph Pass trail.

Be sure to bring water! Try to be parked at Desert Foothills Park by 7:45am so we can get you to the trailhead for the 8:00 start time.

You will hike at your own risk, but PARC volunteers will be around to provide any assistance needed. We will provide shuttle service and water, and we will not leave anyone on the mountain.

5k walk

Walk with us – to Save Pecos Road

When: Saturday, March 1st, check-in at 8:00am – event starts at 9:00am

Where: Park ‘n’ Ride on Pecos Road at 40th Street

Why: Fundraiser for PARC because we want to save Pecos Road

Partner: PARC is co-sponsoring this 5K inter-generational walk with the Arizona Senior Olympics (ASO)

Registration: Pre-registration up to February 26th on-line at seniorgames.org (select event “Walk to Save Pecos”) or register on-site

Fee: $15 for 18 and over, $12 for 10-17 year olds, includes an ASO T-shirt

Entry Requirements:

  1. Each person must register as an individual
  2. Children must be at least 10 years old to participate
  3. Check-in prior to the event is required

Amenities: Restrooms – yes; Water – yes; Food – no

If you like to walk, come and join us to help save Pecos Road. This will be a 5K walk, not a race. It will be at your own pace so you can enjoy the surroundings and contemplate on what Ahwatukee would be like without Pecos Road.

Pecos Road is just as important to the ASO as it is to residents of Ahwatukee. Each year the ASO has biking and running events for senior athletes that use Pecos Road as the venue. There is no more suitable venue in the Phoenix area.

When the ASO asked PARC to join with them in sponsoring an inter-generational (age 10 and up) walking event on Pecos Road, we jumped at the chance. Pecos Road is important to all of us, and what better way to make that point to the community than while raising some funds to fight against replacing Pecos with a freeway.

As co-sponsors of this walking event, all entry fees will go to the ASO, while all sponsor money collected will go to PARC. So it will be very important for PARC if you could get sponsors to donate something for every kilometer you walk. Every little bit helps.

PARC will have a booth at the Pecos Park ‘n’ Ride where participants will be able to talk with us and/or purchase PARC “Save Ahwatukee” T-shirts and “Save South Mountain” bumper stickers. PARC will also be assisting with on-site registration, distribution of water to participants, etc.

Please join us – and remember to get sponsors!

school rally

PARC generates media buzz with “Freeway Toxic Zone” rallies at schools

On November 20-21,2013, several PARC members demonstrated by carrying signs saying “Freeway Toxic Zone” and handing out “postcards” with information about how and why PARC is fighting the freeway. These demonstrations occurred at Kyrene del Milenio, Kyrene de la Sierra, and Kyrene de la Estrella Elementary Schools as well as Kyrene Akimel A-al Middle School. The postcards were handed to parents as they were dropping their children off at school.

Over and over again, PARC demonstrators heard “Thank you for what you are doing” from parents as they took the postcards telling them how to get more information. We only had an occasional heckler.

Gail Cochran coordinated the demonstrations for PARC, and she was interviewed by Channel 15. PARC president Pat Lawlis was also present, and she was interviewed by Channel 5 and Channel 12. All 3 channels aired a short segment on the demonstrations.

We will press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence!