On Tuesday, I received an unsolicited piece from Keep Sedona Beautiful’s volunteer coordinator written by Dick Ellis and Bill Pumphrey titled, “A Story of Citizen Involvement in the Reconstruction of Arizona State Highway 179: 2000-2010.”
Too long to be a letter to the editor and with no reference to any current story or with any news value related to an anniversary or such, I have zero idea why it was sent to me.
Ellis notes that in 2000, the Sedona City Council passed a resolution in favor of the Arizona Department of Transportation’s plan to widen State Route 179 to five lanes to cope with the slowly increasing population and growing number of tourists heading to Sedona.
Ellis states that Voice of Choice for 179, a special interest group, formed and promoted a slate of council candidates in 2001, Ellis among them, who were elected and overturned the resolution — setting the stage for the massive traffic debacle we are dealing with 16 years later.
One resident hired an outside consultant from Georgia, Ellis writes, who attacked ADOT’s plan on VoC’s behalf. This hired gun on VoC’s payroll had no interest in helping Sedona residents as a whole, but merely in collecting a paycheck to promote the cabal’s selfish view that by refusing to build the new road VoC could somehow halt new residents and tourists coming to Sedona.
The last decade of highway backups prove how wrong that idea was as VoC’s anti-population plan was a disastrous and utter failure. Tourists came in droves and growth throughout the Verde Valley meant the road would be woefully insufficient to handle all the vehicles.
Ellis writes that “Voice of Choice members influenced the road planning process, …” by which he means members of the organization co-opted and usurped the democratic process by being a thorn in the Arizona Department of Transportation planners’ sides, consistently promoting the group’s myopic and self-interested demands.
VoC members made big showings at charettes and meetings, giving the impression to state officials that a tiny handful of Sedona residents represented the city as a whole, which was clearly not the case. VoC prevailed, despite the overall view of most residents that a wider State Route 179 needed be two lanes in each direction.
ADOT started replacing a two-lane road with a pretty two-lane road, not the four-lane road we needed then and desperately need now. Roundabouts replaced proposed stoplights, fouling up inflow from side streets.
Now cars coming from tiny side streets like Sombart Lane and Arrow Drive have the equal access to the arterial State Route 179. The median has reduced head-on collisions and the bike lanes make it safer to cycle, yet these were already in ADOT’s initial plans for the wider road, so VoC’s claims of credit are moot.
Though many of the members of VoC were also members of KSB, both adamantly denied there was a formal relationship between the groups, but the fact KSB sent us this piece strongly suggests there was wide collusion, in violation of rules governing 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
KSB has been in hot water for such activities before: Over streetlights on State Route 89A, in promoting a Sedona National Scenic Area and in promoting a regional national monument. When will KSB officials learn that as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, under Internal Revenue Service rules, KSB cannot promote political issues?
The only letter VoC should be sending to residents should begin, “We sincerely apologize for what we did to you all regarding traffic ….”
Yet now when readers send me letters to editor complaining about 45-minute, bumper-to-bumper delays on State Route 179, I now have a piece I can email back so that drivers can squarely place the blame for the terrible road design on the shoulders of Voice of Choice for 179. BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS