December 8, 2004
The Mesa City Council has delayed a decision on whether to spend more than $2 million to improve a downtown street, the latest phase of a $20 million project to create a pedestrian-friendly district.
Some council members earlier this week expressed concerns about the project’s cost and losing parking spaces, and questions were raised about the city’s commitment to the developer of the former Bank One building on the northeast corner of Main and Macdonald streets.
Vice Mayor Claudia Walters called for a postponement to avoid a vote opposing the project, which she said could put Mesa in court. The council voted 6-0 Monday to delay its decision. Mayor Keno Hawker declared a conflict of interest and abstained.
The project planned for Macdonald Street, between Main and 1st streets, would add pedestrian lights, trees and shrubs, bike racks and benches, increase the width of the sidewalk, and reduce the traffic lanes to one in each direction.
A February 2003 agreement between Mesa and Outsource International, which is renovating the former bank building, requires the city to improve the Macdonald streetscape from Main to 1st Street.
The city has spent $18 million since 1998 on four previous phases of downtown street work. The latest contract proposal is for $2.06 million.
This contract includes $420,582 for street and sidewalk work, $373,335 for street furniture and landscaping, $194,781 for utility removals and installations, $473,880 for street lights and traffic signals, and $410,350 for construction surveys, fees, testing and holiday lighting. The contract includes a 10 percent allowance to cover the cost of change orders.
Mesa Councilman Tom Rawles opposed the project and said Mesa residents should be ashamed and outraged about spending that much money on the downtown area.
"This is unnecessary and inappropriate for government to do," Rawles said.
Mesa City Manager Mike Hutchinson said the project has had a positive impact.
"It has certainly helped the image of downtown, it’s helped make a place the citizens are proud of, helped reinvestment and gone a long way toward improving the look," he said.