A group of west Mesa residents who days ago shot down plans for a bigger auto mall in the Riverview area were more enthusiastic about a plan to build a worldclass water park.
The crowd of about 30 residents who attended the Thursday night meeting of the Mesa Grande Community Alliance said they wanted to see, above all, a quality development in an area that has spurned the auto mall and an Arizona Cardinals’ football stadium.
Earnie Johnson, 75, said that although the development would focus on youthoriented sports, west Mesa could benefit from it.
“We want something nice. We don’t want junk development. We want something that has class. You’re offering us class,” he said.
Bob Parker, neighborhood leader, said the development could help attract younger residents to an aging part of the city.
“These are the kind of people that we want to live in west Mesa,” he said. “We know that there will always be naysayers and we’re tired of it.”
Parker’s sense of urgency could be key. Scottsdalebased Waveyard Development LLC this week announced discussions with Mesa officials to purchase roughly 150 acres of cityowned land in the Riverview area that is now home to Riverview Golf Course and a city softball complex.
The $250-million Waveyard project would be a national attraction that would feature a wave pool with 12-foot breaks, a flyfishing river, a sandy beach and a whitewater rafting and kayaking course with Class IV rapids.
The recreation core of the project would be surrounded by sports-related retail shops, a 320-room resort hotel, residential villas and an amphitheater.
There’s a catch, however. Richard Mladick and Jerry Hug, partners in the development, say they have a spot picked out in the West Valley that offers more land and a clear path to approval. They said they only want west Mesa if west Mesa residents want them.
“There is no deal on the table,” Mladick said. “If it goes well tonight, we can move this forward quickly.”
The development partners told the neighborhood gathering that a decision on the proposal could take “weeks not months,” and that major opposition would force them away.
But some of the advantages to a west Mesa location are obvious. The project would be convenient to most of the population in the Valley and would be adjacent to loops 101 and 202.
The recreation component of the project would bring 1,000 jobs that could be a natural fit for Arizona State University’s student population.
And the cash-strapped city needs the revenue source. The economic impact of the project — while not yet spelled out — could be huge. The city also could reap millions from the sale of the land near Mesa Riverview, an emerging retail complex.
Some residents, however, sounded a note of caution. Development in the area seems to go against the grain of approval for the Mesa Riverview retail development, which was built with the condition that the city retain its nearby parkland.
“This is one year after assurances that Riverview Park would not be touched,” said Marilynn Wennerstrom, a west Mesa resident. “In that respect, it’s a kick in the gut.”