This is an open letter to the City Council copied to Jennifer Wesselhoff at the Chamber of Commerce.
I write to provide my input on the Turn Back of SR 89A. I appreciate the fact that this Council will undertake a process to determine if it is feasible to take back SR89A and for the City to control its destiny into the future. I, as well as many others, support you in that due diligence process. To not do so would be negligent in representing the interests of the city and our citizens.
I believe that it is essential that the City Council approve a motion to begin a due diligence process to educate and inform the staff, council and community about the options regarding take back of the roadway. Once the education process, fact finding and all the information is cumulated, the City can then move forward, if feasible, with a negotiation leading to the potential take back of the roadway. The time for negotiation is after the facts are gathered and the City develops a minimum baseline and a best case scenario for an agreement with ADOT. This position should be a confidential position. In addition, I believe it would be unwise to leave the negotiations to a City Engineer. The negotiations should be lead by a skilled person, with experience in dealing with ADOT. In addition, I believe that the City Manager and at least one informed Council member should also be at the table. This is not child’s play.
I understand that the Sedona Chamber of Commerce organized a group of business owners to speak against performing due diligence at last week’s special council meeting dedicated to the turn back. I am disappointed that the President of the Chamber of Commerce and the Board of the Chamber has taken a position against the turn back without having the benefit of being educated and informed about the issue and without having the facts to base that decision. I am a chamber and tourism bureau member and I can tell you that I was not asked my opinion, surveyed or consulted about this issue. The Chamber President does not represent me and my business on this issue and I expect that is the case with many of the member businesses.
In addition, the Chamber of Commerce does not represent the majority of businesses in Sedona which generate the majority of taxes in the City. You might ask yourself “Who speaks for the majority of business owners?” and not the politically entrenched old guard as is represented by the Board of the Chamber. The Chamber President and its Board are clearly playing politics with this issue rather than working cooperatively with the City, the community and the businesses in Sedona. I am shocked that the Chamber has taken a position against this issue and is completely uninformed and ignorant in doing so. It is embarrassing as a member. Successful businesses gather quality information and act on that information. The time to take a position on the issue is after the facts have been gathered and analyzed. Their position and those that have spoken against the turn back before gathering facts should be discounted severely as being ignorant or politically motivated.
I encourage the City Council to vote to perform due diligence on the turn back. I also encourage you not to put in language that commits the City to “negotiate”. We should commit to due diligence and discussions, not negotiations.
Best of Luck.
PO Box 463
Sedona, AZ 86339