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Eye on Sedona City Council Busy Days

SedonaEye.com columnist, Eddie S. Maddock on the Sedona City Council

SedonaEye.com columnist, Eddie S. Maddock on the Sedona City Council

Sedona AZ (March 12, 2013) – Sedona City Hall remains abuzz with Pre, Regular, and Special City Council Meetings.

Current order of business included a “special” meeting on March 7 with yet another two on tap. One is slated for March 13 to discuss the future of the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park and then on March 14 there will be a discussion and possible direction on behalf of the Sedona Lodging Council and the Chamber of Commerce of the long range plan from Mitch Nichols on Sedona tourism. This discussion may include consideration of possible sales and bed tax increases to benefit those bringing this issue before the City Council for discussion. 

March 12 will be the “regularly” scheduled Council Meeting at 4:30 PM in Council Chambers. It’s of interest to note that the “Pre-Meeting” generally set for 3:00 PM has been cancelled. 

The Special City Council Meeting held at 3:00 PM on Thursday, March 7, 2013, in City Hall Council Chambers was for the purpose of discussion/possible action relating to accomplishments regarding parking and traffic issues in the Uptown area of Sedona, approval of two public parking agreements, as well as approval of re-allocation of FY13 capital funds in the amount of $50,125 to be used as future funding towards parking improvements.

Due to the absence of Mayor Rob Adams, Vice-Mayor Mark DiNunzio presided over this meeting.

Assistant City Manager Karen Daines offered a comprehensive presentation on behalf of the City and the “Uptown Advisory Committee” comprised of herself, Sedona Chief of Police Ray Cota, CEO of the Sedona Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Wesselhoff, Becky O’Banion, business owner and member of the Main Street Board of Directors, and business/property owners Rob Arbogast, Al Spector, and Tom Gilomen. 

Included in the review were the findings of Nelson Nygaard Parking Study Update, the firm most recently retained for a follow-up review since a previous study was submitted in 2005.

Conclusions reflected that the findings pretty much concurred with those revealed in the 2005 study (at a cost, including work orders, which exceeded over $200,000 according to Ms. Daines) and were subsequently not acted upon to any significant degree because clearly the problems still exist.

High demand for on-street parking, inadequate signage, limited lighting, poor pedestrian conditions, and confusion for visitors ranked at the top of the list in both studies. Also of interest is that both studies reflected that it’s quite possible Sedona does have adequate parking but visitors are unable to locate the specific sites. That conclusion is based on the number of unoccupied parking spaces in the City owned parking lot on Apple Avenue as well as the parking structure located at the rear of Sinagua Plaza, also available for public use free of charge. 

Heading the list of goals and objectives is to focus on making the most efficient use of existing facilities before increasing the supply, such as a parking structure (garage) which has been discussed but with a price tag of $8.5 million dollars and or $30,000 to $40,000 per space for garage parking, the realistic approach remains to “utilize what’s available.”

Other concerns about providing specific areas for employee parking and tour buses will continue to be investigated and recommendations will be forthcoming.

Summarily, leases for part time usage of parking spaces was agreed upon by City Council (Mike Ward was the only dissenting vote and prior to motions being made and action taken, John Martinez had to leave the meeting.) The remaining five Council Members voted unanimously to approve re-allocation of the $50,125 which represents the remaining funds from the original FS13 $132,500 initially allocated for this latest study update. 

The two parking lots agreed upon were those of the Sedona Red Rock News and the Sedona Fire District location on Forest Road. Public usage, however, will be restricted to Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Other proposed sites are under consideration but at this meeting further negotiations remained pending.

Costs incurred to get these two agreements up and operating will be a combined $20,125 which includes improvements as agreed upon by the parties (derived from original allocation of $132,500). In the future, $10,000 annually will be budgeted for the two locations.

Signage remains at best confusing as illustrated by photos of an array of existing examples which uphold the concept of a picture saying a thousand words. Try an assortment of colors and confusing directional arrows combined with private property signs threatening “no parking or your car will be towed away” and the reason available public parking remains basically unused becomes obvious. All we need now are the recently approved promotional banners spanning two locations of SR89A uptown as another diversion.

Yep, it’s about to happen. As if people who come to Sedona for the Film Festival, St. Pat’s Parade, Spring Break, or a multitude of other special events don’t know why they’re here? Well, maybe not when they’re unable to find a place to park. But it is doubtful distractions such as the recently approved and most assuredly unnecessary banners, for which the City will spend in excess of $50,000 (not derived from the $132,500) to provide the “spanning” posts, will help to clear their heads.

So, for the purpose of revamping signage which (Lord let us pray) will produce better results, $5,000 has been allocated for that specific purpose.

Another $25,000 is to be awarded for engineering advice on implementation of medians in uptown SR89A in conjunction with the forthcoming overlay scheduled for later this year and to include recommendations relating to possible better foot access from the public parking lot on Apple Avenue as was suggested by a “Roman-Like” stairway in an appropriate location. Tom Gilomen and Al Spector both have offered to help financially in such a venture but dollar amounts were not discussed. Of course, this proposal encompasses dealing with ADA requirements which, without question, will be costly.

Sources of revenue remain unknown. 

Speaking of which, parking meters even though a hotly contested issue will remain in the process as being just one component of parking and traffic management needed to solve this overall problem. Both traffic/parking studies considered parking meters an integral necessity in the overall scheme of things; and as Police Chief Cota said “They are an element of the total solution.” As it stands now, however, if implementation is forthcoming it will not be until 2016 and only after all other available remedies have been exhausted.

Also on deck for future consideration is uniting with the USFS Red Rock Ranger District in future plans for “circulator” transportation intended to transport visitors to trail heads in the Village of Oak Creek and Sedona as well as points of interest up Oak Creek Canyon, objective being an attempt to alleviate well known canyon congestion during high-peak tourist seasons.

Busy, busy are they who donate their time and just seem to love figuring ways to spend money they neither have nor do they propose acceptable methods to find that pot of gold at the end of any of Sedona’s magnificent rainbows. And, as Mike Ward made known, sufficient money isn’t even available to remedy the run-off consistently flooding many homes as the annual rainy season continues to do its job.

And who knows when Oak Creek will be ready to rise and shine again? Maybe a warm rain to melt all the snow in the high country will appropriately set the matter straight on the nonsense of a creek walk/park. This year? Next year? After all, only Mother Nature has the essential power to call the shots . . . not mere mortal man. Honest. We shall see …

 

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17 Comments

  1. Claudia says:

    City council voted 4 to 3 to declare the collapsed Antonsen dome officially deceased. This happened at the special meeting 03/13/13. Nothing unlucky about that number for Sedona. :-) Finally sensible action – thank you very much.

  2. Jean says:

    The meeting on Tuesday night about the future of Barbara’s Park was an eye-opener in several respects. I’ll leave the incompetence at Public Works for another day and comment about how the meeting started off.

    Mayor Adams attempted to limit the public comments to one representative from each side. Then Vice Mayor DiNunzio stepped in and asked the City Attorney for the law.

    It turns out the Mayor cannot rule in such an undemocratic manner. A vote of the entire Council is required. The vote was 5 – 2 (DiNunzio/McIlroy) to allow comments from all interested parties. Adams and Martinez were opposed.

    If we didn’t know before, we now know who to not vote for should they run for City Council again.

    By the way, when the matter of the .5% sales tax increase came up for discussion at Wednesday night’s special council meeting, DiNunzio opposed a sales tax increase; McIlroy favored a .25% sales tax increase; Adams, Litrell, Ward and Williamson were for a .5% sale tax increase; and Martinez wanted a 1% sales tax increase. All were in favor of a 1% Bed Tax increase.

  3. Jean says:

    MORE ABOUT THE TAX INCREASES

    The Chamber of Commerce request:ed EITHER a 1% Bed Tax increase ($516,000) OR one-half ($915,000) of a .5% Sales Tax increase ($1,830,000), with the remaining $$$ to go to the City.

    The Mayor took NO community input or comments. NO plan was provided by the Chamber. Oddly (?), “our” City Council will be giving away taxpayer dollars FOR BOTH. While the Council agree upon the 1% Bed Tax increase, the amount of the sales tax increase supported ranged from .25% to 1%.

    During the Council meeting City Manager Tim Ernster dubbed this heist “The Wesselhoff Tax [after the Chamber’s CEO].”

    In my opinion, gouging the poor, residents on fixed incomes, struggling businesses, etc., to line the pockets of the Chamber of Commerce SANS listening to and considering community input is commie stuff.

  4. What brought us to Sedona? First and foremost those amazing red rock views which open up when approaching Sedona via 179. Secondary was to take in the St. Patrick’s Day events. It was a surprise seeing “banners” on 179 indicating the Film Festival was “now.” Not true so we found out.Therefore we were confused even before getting to what you call the “uptown” area. Why do you want more banners when the ones you presently have in place are not accurate? We learned about this web site while eating at a local restaurant.

  5. Had the city’s “Friends of Posse Grounds” involved the neighbors before launching what the City hoped would be a replacement (in the eyes of the Heritage Foundation- who funded the Cultural Park to the tune of $566,600), the outcome could have been very different. As for Councilors Ward and Martinez expressing that they had no sympathy for any neighbor living near a venue might serve as a red flag to voters should they run for office again.

  6. Warren says:

    @Sedona Visitors – Don’t get me started on the banners. Here’s what I told the Moronic Convergence (AKA Council) last year before they voted for them. Of course they did not listen.

    Sight-blight Banners Fail “Vision” Test

    The current sight-blight of the light pole banners is bad enough. Now Council wants to span the street with them, and at our expense!

    Former City bureaucrat, Jodi Filardo, pushed for the light pole banners saying they would give Sedona “a sense of place”. Can you imagine? As if the natural beauty here did not create sense of place enough.

    Poor Council, they read their “Vision Statement” before their every meeting yet it still has not sunk in. Sight-blight banners fail the City’s “Vision Statement” big time.

    City Vision Statement:

    “The vision that the citizens have for the future of their City is . . .”

    “To be a city that is constantly vigilant over the preservation of its natural beauty, scenic vistas, pristine environment and cultural heritage.”

    FAIL: Road-spanning banners are a blight upon Sedona’s “natural beauty, scenic vistas and pristine environment”.

    “To be a city that retains its small- town character and creates its manmade improvements in strict harmony with nature.”

    FAIL: Road-spanning banners are not “improvements” and will never be in “strict harmony with nature” even if printed in earth tones.

    “To be a city that is animated by the arts, and lives with a spirit of volunteerism to help achieve our common goals.”

    FAIL: Banners are advertising, not “art”. And they are at odds with every “common goal” expressed here.

    “To be a city that offers equal opportunities for all and fosters a sense of community.”

    FAIL: Equal opportunity? Can I advertise my garage sale with a road-spanning banner?

    “To be a city that welcomes and accommodates all of its visitors and future residents with a spirit of fellowship.”

    FAIL: The place for any city welcome is at the signpost of the city limits.

    “To be a city that retains and enhances a strong and vital economy which preserves existing lifestyles without exploiting the natural beauty.”

    FAIL: Road spanning banners are a blight upon our natural beauty.

    “And finally,”

    “To be a city that lives up to the challenge of proper stewardship of one of the earth’s great treasures.”

    FAIL: Improper “stewardship”.

  7. Really, it’s time to disband the CITY of Sedona. Another $200,000 study that agrees with the last $200,000 study, that was not acted upon? More TAXPAYER money for the chamber of commerce? A chamber of commerce should be funded from the dues of it’s members.

    Basically you have people sitting around, going to meetings to figure out how to spend more of other people’s money.

    The City has to go.

  8. E.S. Maddock says:

    Well, Folks, it’s happening. As City Council continues to ignore massive under-funding to correct drainage/storm run-off problems, they intend to plod forward on land acquisitions. Read on:

    TENTATIVE AGENDA for both SPECIAL and REGULAR City Council Meetings slated for Tuesday, March 26 (3:00 and 4:30 PM)

    “3. Regular Business: d. AB 1560 presentation of POTENTIAL PROPERTIES TO PURCHASE FOR PUBLIC USES IN THREE CATEGORIES: CREEKSIDE ACCESS, PUBLIC/PEDESTRIAN PARK, AND PUBLIC PARKING.”

    Now then, as was specifically stated at the “Special Meeting” on Thursday, March 7th, the conclusions of both previous parking studies indicated “both studies reflected that it’s quite possible Sedona does have adequate parking.” Also, until other recommendations as were approved at that meeting were implemented, adding additional parking would be deferred to a later time.

    What? Two weeks later the City will pursue property to purchase for public parking? And for future consideration “parking structure (garage) with a proposed price tag of $8.5 million dollars and/or $30,000 to $40,000 per space” . . . maybe less if uncovered spaces are up for grabs.

    Then let us not forget to revisit the questionable credibility of the ongoing pursuit for creekside city owned land for any purpose.

    A City Council vote in May of 2007 reflected that then council member Rob Adams was among those who wisely said “no” to accepting a “gift” of a 7.8 acre parcel of land on the east side of Oak Creek. What has now changed his mind now? Oh, maybe the property being looked at is located on the “west” side of the creek instead of the “east” side? And so that side of the creek will not be subjected to future flooding?

    Maybe a solution to this would be for the city to simply buy up all the private residential property (and commercial such as Tlaquepaque) and retain it for their “waterfront” visions since without proper attention it will continue to fit that description on an annual basis.

  9. And so what’s the big deal about a creek walk, public park and public parking? We’ve only been Sedona residents for the past couple years after having planned a long time ago to relocate here. Certainly city decision makers wouldn’t be so intent on moving forward with this unless they had substantial support from the residents, would they? In fact, we’ve yet to see many arguments opposing it.

  10. Initially the comment from “New Kids” alarmed me. However, giving thought to the overall lax voter participation in the recent election which failed to place reasonable controls on City spending by denying the “Home Rule” ballot measure, the result clearly indicated that “The Kids” are most likely accurate in their assessment.

    Hopefully the maybe 1,000 or so “voices” being heard out of a population of 10,000 will be willing to subsidize the city budget to pay for their walkway and park by the creek. (As if they don’t have miles and miles of access to walk, picnic, meditate, whatever without the financial burden they are obviously making demands to put on the backs of Sedona residents in general . . . not to mention the flooding liability to lives and property.)

  11. N. Baer says:

    @NewKidsontheBlock – The big deal about; the creek walk is that two former councils rejected the idea due to the engineering and flash flood challenges, public park – for a small city (10,033 residents) we have many public parks Posse Grounds, Sunset, Jordan and more. Most importantly,, the City does not have the funds needed to complete the flood project according to councilors Ward and Martinez. So, it’s really a matter of priorities and sticking to what the City needs and not what it wants.

  12. Re: New Kids on the Block
    Never, ever, trust anyone who hasn’t the courage to put their name on a public comment!

  13. E.S. Maddock says:

    Re J. Rick Normand.

    Guess what? It appears the “unnamed” are reaping the benefits of anonymity.

    Case in point: Last night’s city council meeting (3/26) a council member asked city employee Rachel Murdock if the recent $100,000 Parks & Recreation Master Plan study revealed how many local residents avail themselves use of our existing parks.

    Answer: NO.

    Conclusion: Millions of $$$$ continue to be spent to assuage demands being made by an unknown number of unnamed people.

  14. Jean says:

    At the end of its March 26th meeting, the City Council PULLED the matter of the planned increase in bed and sales taxes. Apparently, my e-mailed research was forwarded to the extent it went viral, an extremely important factor in this amazing turn of events. I wish to sincerely thank everyone who helped.

  15. Warren says:

    Thanks, Jean. I wrote something too which got wide distribution. Unfortunately, at the rate Council wastes money, I am quite sure we have not seen the end of fee and tax increases.

  16. On Wednesday, April 3, 2013, Siemens Industry, Inc., contractor for the City of Sedona, will replace a damaged 30-foot light pole on State Route 89A.

    A lane closure for west bound traffic between the Hyatt Pinon Point entrance and the Sedona Post Office is scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. and last approximately two to four hours. All work will be completed before 7 a.m.

    Drivers are asked to please slow down in the work zone and observe all traffic control devices during this scheduled pole replacement.

    Any questions regarding this project can be directed to Victor Estrada, Traffic Aide, at 928-204-7800.

  17. Jim, VOC says:

    Want to know why we avoid going up to Sedona? Difficult for me to drive at night. Those damn lights up now don’t help see people or cars with their glare. It’s easier to drive on 179 going through the desert than to drive up there. The city chose the wrong lights for oldsters to navigate says my eye doctor. For the record I like the rounds for traffic movements. I read your news every day and wouldn’t miss it for the fodder it gives our mens discussions at the Ridge.

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