From the perspectives of economic growth and city government, 2013 was a “banner year” for Chandler. That is how Mayor Jay Tibshraeny described it.
From the job boon created by the Price Corridor to the outlets opening adjacent to the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino to the passage of school overrides in the Chandler Unified and Kyrene School Districts, it was a good year.
“We’re seeing the fruits of all our work,” Tibshraeny said.
But 2013 also saw the loss of a Valley icon and struggles over Loop 202, power lines and chickens.Here is a look back at some of Chandler’s biggest moments of 2013:
Eddie Basha dies
The grocer who grew the Chandler-based Basha’s chain to 160 stores statewide died March 26 at the age of 75. But Eddie Basha Jr. was much more than the businessman who also created Food City and AJ’s Fine Foods. He was an education advocate, philanthropist and one-time gubernatorial candidate. His support of gay marriage, many believe, cost him the governor’s seat in 1994. Two Chandler schools are named after him and his family promised to run the stores in his legacy.
Jobs boon highlighted
General Motors announced in March it will bring a new IT innovation center to Chandler with the promise of 1,000 new jobs, but the car maker was far from the only company to make large-hiring announcements this year. According to the Chandler Economic Development department, Nationstar announced 1,200 jobs, OnTrac 850, QBE 700-1,200, Intel 350 and Infusionsoft 300. The boon helped earn Mayor Jay Tibshraeny American City and County Magazine’s title of Municipal Leader of the Year.
Hitting the century mark
Both Chandler High School and the San Marcos Hotel resort in downtown Chandler turned 100 this year.
First opened prior to the 1914-15 school year with four teachers and 19 freshmen, Chandler High classes were originally taught at Chandler Grammar School before moving from local churches and even businesses until a proper campus (at its current location) was built in 1922.
San Marcos was the vision of city founder, Dr. A.J. Chandler, and drew celebrities Fred Astaire, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Clark Gable and Jimmy Stewart as guests. Even President Herbert Hoover stayed at the resort that underwent a renovation this year.
Gila River outlets open
The Phoenix Premium Outlets, located in Chandler adjacent to the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino, opened in early April with 90 stores offering discounts of 25 to 65 percent off retail prices. The 360,000-square-foot outdoor mall features such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue off 5th, Adidas, Brooks Brothers, Izod, Nike Factory Store, Armani Outlet, BCBG Max Azria and Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store.
Loop 202 debate drags on
The proposed expansion of the Loop 202 through the Gila River Indian Community has run into several obstacles throughout 2013. Initial plans to push the highway through South Mountain have faced opposition from members of the Gila River Indian Community, who want to preserve the mountain. An alternative plan to run the highway through tribal land has also seen resistance, with GRIC residents concerned about pollution and a loss of traditions. Residents of Ahwatukee have fought against the highway expansion partially due to environmental concerns as well.
Changing of the guard
Chandler Police Chief Sherry Kiyler, 62, retired on July 1 after nine years in the position and 40 years in law enforcement. Dave Neuman was named interim chief and last month Sean Duggan, an assistant chief in Scottsdale with 27 years of law enforcement work in the state, was named the next Chandler Police Chief. Duggan is expected to start Jan. 13.
Power (lines) struggle
Organized opposition from Chandler and Sun Lakes residents led Salt River Project in October to delay a decision on where to place high-voltage power lines. The lines are needed to connect proposed substation that will power, in part, the Price Corridor. SRP plans to continue talks on an alternate power-line route through the Gila River Indian Community.
Backyard chicken ordinance
After the Chandler City Council in May tabled a vote to allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards, the council in July denied the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission plan that called for as many as five hens in a single backyard. The vote was by a 4-3 margin, with council members Trinity Donovan, Nora Ellen and Kevin Hartke voting in favor of the ordinance.
Level 1 trauma center delayed
The planned July opening of a Level 1 trauma center at the Chandler Regional Medical Center was postponed (possibly until the spring of 2014). The center was to be the first Level 1 — capable of treating the most seriously injured — in the Southeast Valley.
up for changes
The General Motors center will be built in the Price Corridor, along Price Road south of the Loop 202 freeway that is home to eBay, PayPal, Intel, Wells Fargo and others. But additional changes are in store for the incubation and technology hub. An independent, city council-commissioned study of recommended the corridor offer more flexibility in some of its requirements to future prospective companies.
School overrides pass
A year after school overrides failed miserably across the East Valley, Chandler was able to secure passage of two by voters in November. The Chandler Unified School District received its 15 percent budget override with 53.2 percent of the 20,135 votes. The Kyrene School District, which also serves Ahwatukee and parts of Tempe, also received a 15 percent budget override with 60.9 percent of the 12,471 votes cast.
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