Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DiCiccio and the Loop 202: Is There a Story Here?

A friend forwarded the following email from Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio this morning.  My reaction follows, and yes I am a little more skeptical of Mr. DiCiccio now than ever before.

Governor, others boost 202 alternative momentum

Momentum has swung strongly toward exploring an alternative to the Pecos Road South Mountain Loop 202 alignment on the Gila River Indian Community thanks to powerful letters of support from Gov. Jan Brewer, House Majority Leader John McComish and Congressman Harry Mitchell plus hard, cooperative work by many players.
As you know, I've been a strong proponent of an alternative to the Pecos Road alignment.  My office has been working tirelessly to get all parties to communicate to see if there could be a win-win for all.  I've maintained that another alignment would save taxpayers' money, preserve South Mountain, provide opportunities for GRIC, and maintain neighborhoods and homes.  We've since learned that perhaps $200 million in construction/engineering also might be saved.
The way for such a win-win solution to be accomplished is when all parties work together, which I'm happy to report is occurring. The best example was the Dec. 7 meeting at the Maricopa Association of Governments attended by me, MAG, the Arizona Department of Transportation, federal highway officials, GRIC, the BIA, two congressional offices and others.  The first time, all stakeholders sat in the same room and talked things through like that. The result was a general agreement that GRIC would formally indicate its willingness to consider a proposal and that MAG and ADOT would pursue it. Gov. Brewer, in her letter to GRIC Gov. William Rhodes, pledged the full engagement of the Arizona Department of Transportation in working with the GRIC to develop a SM202 alignment there (see attached letter).
Other 'never-quit' players have been working behind the scenes for the past nine months on this, including Chad Blostone and Mike Hinz of Ahwatukee, two local HOA board members and worker bees who have kept this alternative issue alive so it could reach this point. When very few people believed such an outcome possible, they doggedly worked at it, helped us uncover information, develop relationships and drive momentum.
A huge lesson for all of us, one that should ring much louder in these difficult times, is what innovation and results can come from working together.  Look at all the different communities, levels of government, primary missions and cultures that share in this accomplishment. It included federal, state, city, MAG  . . . and HOAs and community ad hoc committees. It's the Gila River Indian Community, suburban Ahwatukee and the folks in downtown Phoenix. It's neighbors, engineers, elected officials, agency heads, community activists, Democrats and Republicans.
To keep this momentum moving, your help is needed also. Please forward this and the letters from Gov. Brewer, Congressman Mitchell and Majority Leader McComish to your email list plus other interested parties, encouraging them to add their voices to encouraging this exploration of alternatives by calling or writing their elected representatives, community leaders and newspapers to support it.
Please sign onto and leave your email so we can update you as developments occur, or email it to  Also, please feel free to forward any of this information to any other concerned parties.  We look forward to your opinions and feedback.

Thank you all again for your effort.

Councilman Sal DiCiccio
Phoenix City Council District 6

Here's my two cents.....  I was absolutely flabbergasted when, at the October MAG meeting after federal funds had been announced, the president of GRIC declared that the tribe had yet to receive a serious offer, but that they wanted to entertain it.  Time after time, GRIC has announced its general opposition to the freeway whether on their land or not, so I was initially suspicious that this is nothing but a stall tactic.

But then the New Times picked up on the fact that DiCiccio has done a lot of work to facilitate talks in recent months, despite the fact that he controls a significant amount of commercial development on GRIC land and in Ahwatukee.  The story has yet to pick up much traction, except this article in the AZ Republic.  What has yet to be covered in any further depth is the question about DiCiccio's involvement as a consultant on the Wildhorse Pass business park......

And something that isn't addressed by any of the previously mentioned articles is the question of how DiCiccio's constituency has changed its viewpoint of the freeway.  Not only are the same fools who bought houses in the path of development now thrilled that the state wants to pay them far more than their houses are worth so that they can move, but they are also beginning to get the idea that a freeway gives them access to new commercial development, both in Laveen and Ahwatukee.  Without the freeway, no hospital, no regional shopping centers, and so on.   So why would DiCiccio care to complicate the process all of a sudden?

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