Smith, Richins tackle projects, other topics at town hall - East Valley Tribune: Capitol Media Services

Smith, Richins tackle projects, other topics at town hall

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Posted: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 9:15 pm

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and District 1 Councilmember Dave Richins provided updates on several projects to a collection of city residents on Aug. 27.

The event, a town hall hosted at the West Mesa CDC, featured the two elected officials outlining the progress of multiple ventures the city has undertaken in recent years. One of the larger projects brought up is the construction of Riverview Park, which will house the Chicago Cubs’ new Spring Training facility and feature other amenities for residents.

As of Tuesday, Smith said the park is on track for the team to move in for the next Spring Training season — he also sent out a photo showing the installation of seats on his Twitter page on Wednesday — and said the city is in negotiations to bring a high-level hotel to the Riverview area.

“If that goes in, it will be pretty spectacular,” he said.

Richins focused on the community aspects of a project he said will have equipment not seen in other parks across the country. A few of the park’s features he mentioned were a pyramid-shaped climbing tower, a splash pad and active-play amenities.

“You’re going to be blown away by Riverview Park. I’m so excited about Riverview Park,” Richins said.

Also brought up was the upcoming election that includes a bond issue related to city projects. In July, the council approved the placement of a $130 million bond package split into street projects and public safety projects that range from a $16 million communications center for the Mesa Fire Department to street upgrades around the Fiesta Mall.

Smith said the bond request falls in line with city government’s continued efforts to invest in Mesa and continue to improve the city’s services.

“Mesa is not a business; it’s not going away in two years. It’s going to live on for the next generation and the next generation,” he said.

One of the selling points he mentioned was the experience with recent bond money, as he said the city saved approximately $150 million by taking advantage of the lower costs caused by the economic downturn. Smith said the city even saved enough money building one fire station to build a completely different station.

“We wouldn’t put it before you if we didn’t think it was a prudent investment,” he said.

The projects also fall in line with efforts Smith said the city is taking to move away from a less-than-pleasing aesthetic, especially among businesses. The purpose, he said, is to ensure businesses build stores of the same quality as they would in affluent cities like Anthem.

He said doing that would mark a reversal in the city’s development plan, as he said Mesa “missed the boat” in the past, which led to the development of dilapidated neighborhoods.

“We allowed people to do junk in the name of liberty and freedom,” he said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-5647 or emungenast@evtrib.com

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