Richardson: The good news going along with the bad in East Valley of late - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Richardson: The good news going along with the bad in East Valley of late

Good: Grand Canyon U to Mesa, USA hoops, Marina Heights in Tempe; Bad: Dam project a hit on taxpayers; Salinas still missing.

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Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at bill.richardson@cox.net.

Posted: Wednesday, August 7, 2013 6:12 am

Last week there was some good news and some not so good news for East Valley cities.

First, the good news.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith and Grand Canyon University officials announced the university would build a new 120-acre campus in Mesa’s fast growing educational and technical corridor [evtnow.com/5p5]. GCU’s new campus will grow to educate 10,000 students.

Mesa currently hosts the Arizona State University Polytechnic Campus and A. T. Stills Medical School in the corridor area. Smith told Fox News GCU will be the sixth new college to call Mesa home, including “five of them this year alone. This is unprecedented.” Mesa is fast becoming a major player in post high school and college level programs that will supply an educated workforce to the valley and state.

Business Insider Magazine named Chandler and Scottsdale to its Top 20 Safest Cities in America list. Scottsdale was ranked sixth and Chandler ninth. They were the only two Arizona cities on the list. Both cities have excellent police departments with a history of good leadership.

The East Valley bus strike was settled on Sunday after a near weeklong strike [evtnow.com/5p6].

Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow, Gov. Jan Brewer and Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell announced the new Marina Heights project on university property at the Tempe Town Lake [Photos: evtnow.com/5p7]. The reported $600 million 20-acre development will house the new regional headquarters for State Farm Insurance.

ASU also announced USA Basketball will build a $350 million facility that will include its headquarters and training facilities on the south end of downtown Tempe. Plans include a 330-room luxury hotel [evtnow.com/5p8]. The ASU developments will be a huge plus for ASU, economically, athletically and for the continued development of their highly acclaimed professional education programs and for Tempe. We all owe Dr. Crow a great deal of thanks for continuing to make good things happen in Tempe and the East Valley.

Now for the bad news.

While Tempe officials were taking bows and slapping backs at the Marina Heights festivities, it was less ceremoniously announced Tempe’s mayor and city council decided at a council meeting, with restricted public input, to stick Tempe residents, and not developers, with the $37.4 million cost to build a new dam on the west end of the Town Lake. That works out to about $225.00 in dam debt for each of Tempe’s 166,000 residents.

Along with the cost of the dam being dumped on Tempe residents, who are already weary of a steady stream of tax and fee increases, reduced services and higher costs, the mayor and city council, the highest paid in the East Valley, gave a generous incentive package to developers that goes beyond the tens of millions of dollars in dam costs.

According to the Arizona Republic’s July 31 story, “Tempe OKs controversial lake plan” [evtnow.com/5p4], developers will now pay a lower annual “holding fee” and a lower annual interest rate on their share of lake construction.

Tempe city hall continues to charge residents plenty to do the people’s business [evtnow.com/5p3].

Once again developers in Tempe get the proverbial gold mine while residents continue to get the shaft from city hall.

Now for the real bad news.

Adrienne Salinas a 19-year-old Tempe college student is still missing. Her early morning disappearance on June 15 from the downtown area near where the Marina Heights project will sit, an area with a history of violent and serious crime, is considered by police to be “very suspicious.” Police, sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents have searched the area where she disappeared from and turned up nothing. A $10,000 reward is being offered. Anyone with even the slightest bit of information is strongly encouraged to call Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. Good or bad news, Adrienne’s family needs to know what happened to her.

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