A longtime Mesa Army surplus and outdoors store has contributed $5,000 to fight the Riverview at Dobson project where a competing national outdoor retailer will be the recipient of taxpayer incentives.
"I have nothing against competition, but I feel that’s unfair competition," said Larry Beavers, owner of Larada’s Army Surplus and Outdoors Store at Main Street and Extension.
Beavers said Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World will be competition for his 10,000-square-foot store, which sells camping and outdoor gear in addition to Army surplus items.
"I’ve been collecting city sales taxes faithfully every month for 36 years, and I’ve never got a doggone thing out of the city," he said.
Larada’s donation was included in a campaign contribution statement filed Thursday by Valley Business Owners (And Concerned Citizens), the group that launched the referendum effort for the May 17 election.
The statement reported that Harkins Theatres owner Dan Harkins chipped in another $48,000 to the campaign to bring his overall total to $138,000, and six residents contributed a combined $170. Bashas’ contributed $2,025 earlier this month.
Meanwhile, four Mesa council members are telling potential voters that the Riverview at Dobson opposition has financial links with the competing Tempe Marketplace and that Wal-Mart will not benefit from the project’s incentives.
Vice Mayor Claudia Walters and Councilmen Rex Griswold, Kyle Jones and Mike Whalen — who all voted in favor of the Riverview project at Dobson Road and Loop 202 and its estimated $80 million incentive package — signed a two-page letter mailed Thursday by the Riverview campaign.
The letter states that many Riverview opponents "are actually on the payroll" of the Tempe Marketplace, about two miles west of Riverview at Loop 202 and McClintock Drive.
Harkins is building a movie theater there, and former East Valley legislator Jeff Groscost — who funded the referendum effort— is on retainer with Marketplace developers Vestar Development.
Vestar denies any involvement.
The East Valley Tribune will sponsor a Riverview at Dobson debate at 7 p.m. April 11 in Mesa City Council chambers, 57 E. First St. The debate will feature two representatives from each side of the issue. Two members of the Tribune’s editorial board will moderate the debate, and questions from the public will be accepted. The debate will be televised live on Mesa cable Channel 11. For information, call Tribune editorial page editor Bob Schuster at (480) 898-6507. Early voting will begin on April 14. The election for Propositions 300, 301 and 302 is May 17.