Mesa officials respond to public concerns - East Valley Tribune: News

Mesa officials respond to public concerns

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Posted: Saturday, December 12, 2009 6:23 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Crime prevention, cost of land and construction, and trends in violent incidents in west Mesa were key issues discussed at a public hearing Saturday at Fiesta Mall.

Fiesta District police station planned

Crime prevention, cost of land and construction, and trends in violent incidents in west Mesa were key issues discussed at a public hearing Saturday at Fiesta Mall.

Fiesta District police station planned

The city held the public meeting to air plans to move forward with relocating its Dobson Ranch police substation to a proposed Fiesta District station in an empty strip mall at the northwest corner of Southern Avenue and Longmore.

Beth Huning, the city’s lead engineer, said it is the city’s goal to garner as much feedback as possible from the public before moving forward with the plan to build the $17 million substation.

The station, even if it received full support from the public and city officials, would still be at least two years away from completion, she said.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the option and consider community feedback early in 2010.

A community member at Saturday’s public hearing raised the question of whether the council would support the new station, and if there was any debate as to where the substation should be.

Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh, who represents the district surrounding the mall, said the Southern Avenue and Longmore site was a chief contender.

Kavanaugh said plans to move forward with several public safety projects were backed by city residents in 2008, and that city representatives were still debating the best way to move forward.

“We’re looking into the concerns of a member on the council,” Kavanaugh said, referring to fellow Councilman Alex Finter.

Finter wrote in a letter to City Manager Chris Brady that he disagreed with the purchase, which he placed at about $925,000 an acre.

“My primary concern is the amount of money we are expending to acquire and demolish this site,” Finter wrote.

Huning said the plan would be to level the existing stores and build on the more than nine acres of land, which is more than the projected station will need by about two acres. She said the cost of the land and construction would fall well within the budget approved by residents.

“This is zoned commercial, and you do pay more for commercial than you do for residential,” Huning said.

Kavanaugh said the planned site’s cost is based upon a fair independent appraisal. “I know there are many people on the council, including the mayor, who view this purchase as being a tool for economic development,” he said.

Mesa resident Phil Smithers asked whether shifting the police substation presence from the Dobson Ranch area to farther north would cause crimes to shift somewhere else.

“Is there a study that has been done that shows whether crime might be pushed to other areas?” Smithers asked.

Mesa Assistant Chief of Police John Meza said the department would keep an eye out for those trends.

“We don’t want to displace crime,” he said. “We will look out for displacement and address it.”

Community members were given a questionnaire asking for input that will be taken up by the City Council at its January meeting, Huning said.

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