We know about the successes of the internationally recognized city of Scottsdale, but not many people know about the well-greased bureaucracy wheels of Chandler.
Should you have a chance to travel its rustic, rural roads, you’ll see Chandler is a city struggling to reach full bloom. But, you’d better watch out. It’s a drive for the fearless as road improvements struggle to keep up. About 70 square miles of city growth is something to behold and there’s a tendency to stare at the newest whatever, rather than watch where you’re going.
Traveling south on McQueen past Queen Creek Road, the Consolidated Canal crosses underneath. For those not familiar with Chandler, alongside the canal runs a city-built amenity, the Paseo Trail for bicyclists and joggers — 6½ miles of it from Galveston to Riggs Road.
At the point the canal crosses under McQueen, the often congested, crumbling road takes a curve, which exposes distracted motorists to an unprotected canal. A couple of flimsy reflective markers issue the only warning.
My husband recently sent the city an e-mail stating the danger. In a surprisingly short time, Traffic Engineer Analyst Tom Roberts replied, confirming more markers will be added in response to my husband’s request. Now, we’re so amazed over receiving a response that we won’t micromanage by noting that temporary cement barriers are called for rather than markers. Instead, I will dedicate this column to an awardwinning community. It’s a national example of why a metropolis hums: Its managers listen to its residents.
New Orleans, are you listening? Pull together, stop whining and recreate yourself. So I sidetracked myself, but before I go back to Chandler, I will add one last lob at Phoenix’s poor planning in regard to Chandler Boulevard, just west of Interstate 10.
Those of us who remember the rolling cotton and corn fields that draped that corner of Ahwatukee Foothills will always shudder as we drive along the mish-mash of unsightly commerce. Phoenix nonplanners destroyed a boulevard that should have been the elegant entrance to a priceless neighborhood. Unforgivable.
Back to Chandler, where city managers apparently understand the wealth of expertise among their residents: Seven years ago, they set up a program called Trackwise, which routes and manages resident complaints and suggestions. Public Information Officer Jane Poston says the city set a goal to respond to resident contact within five working days. Not all solutions are found as quickly as those at the canal on McQueen, but city Web sites display multiple examples of how resident interaction pays off. Check them out.
Remember that big hoopla over a proposed super Wal-mart in Chandler? Poston says because of resident preference, the city designated a “big box” ordinance and Wal-Mart found a home at Arizona Avenue and the Santan Freeway.
One more example: Residents didn’t like the connotation of the name the city planned for its new bike park at Arizona Avenue and Knox Road. So, instead of the name Vagabond, residents chose the name Espee BMX Park. Southern Pacific railroad served Chandler for many years. Espee is the phonetic spelling for the railroad’s initials; very clever and meaningful. Someone is listening in them thar halls. Chandler really is a resident’s home.
The city’s efficiency caught my attention because the culture of government means slow, never fast. Further, there’s a sound barrier between taxpayers and government managers, and most public hearings are a sham. I’ve worked in government. The inside look into the bog was oh, so painful.
I’m not going to issue Chandler a perfect bill of performance because every day it must prove itself, but there are those who will tell you if the small things are in order, you can generally count on the large ones to fall into place. Now, about those cement barriers needed on McQueen Road …
Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix television news anchor who lives in the East Valley. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.