Mesa asked residents to submit ideas online that would transform the city - and its residents had no shortage of suggestions. The favorite idea: Replace barren canal banks with shops, sports fishing destinations and parks.
But a priority for others is cutting the sales tax and creating a primary property tax to stabilize revenue.
Then there's the idea of embracing the city's most Hispanic area and planning open air, Mexican-style markets that would attract tourists. The idea was lauded by some - and ridiculed by others in the city's online forum.
Residents can have their say on these ideas and dozens of others starting Wednesday as Mesa holds the first of six forums in its iMesa campaign.
The city has solicited ideas since January, when Mayor Scott Smith launched the iMesa initiative that he calls a grassroots effort to gather transformative projects.
So far, residents have submitted 91 ideas through an online forum that lets participants cast up to 10 votes on their favorite proposal. Now through November, the city will hold forums in each of six "villages" created to sift through the iMesa suggestions.
Some projects would be city-wide and others would primarily affect residents within a single village. The villages roughly follow the six City Council districts.
Smith said council members will likely meet residents at each village meeting. But he'll refrain from getting involved at this point or commenting on the ideas submitted so far.
"You don't want the top guy in the bottom-up process," he said. "The council members deal with the village issues more on a daily basis, and that's who you want there."
Each village group will rank ideas and begin looking at their cost and feasibility. Eventually, the City Council will combine what comes from each village group and select what to take on.
Smith doubts one big, city-wide idea will emerge. He figures it's more likely that several village-specific projects can be assembled for a wider impact.
"You put three or four of those together and all of a sudden you have something that affects more than half the city," he said.
The council is expected to approve ideas from iMesa next year. Smith anticipates voters may be required to approve funding for some projects or to meet city charter requirements. He said the scope of the projects has to reflect what the city can manage to take on logistically and financially.
"We're going to be careful if we do need to go to the voters, that it's something the voters can accept in these economic times," he said.
The iMesa village meetings take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at these dates and locations:
• Oct. 5: Riverview Village, Hyatt Place Hotel, 1422 W. Bass Pro Drive.
• Oct. 19: Superstition Gateway Village, Power Square Mall, 2055 S. Power Road.
• Oct. 26: Fiesta Village, Mekong Plaza, 66 S. Dobson Road.
• Nov. 2: Desert Uplands Village, Mesa Community College Red Mountain Campus, Mesquite Building, 7110 E. McKellips Road.
• Nov. 9: Central Corridor Village, Irving School Historical Center, 155 N. Center St.
• Nov. 16: Citrus Village, Mesa Commemorative Air Force Museum, 2017 N. Greenfield Road.
To see village maps, go to www.mesaaz.gov/iMesa.
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