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Fri, Dec. 06

Hwy. 89 roundabout, widening make it into tentative Prescott budget

This Prescott City map shows the history of accidents in the area.
Courtesy

This Prescott City map shows the history of accidents in the area.

PRESCOTT – With no further discussion this week about the previously controversial Phippen roundabout project, the Prescott City Council tentatively approved its 2017 fiscal-year budget, including the $1.5 million for the Highway 89 project.

While final adoption of the budget is still to come on June 21, the tentative adoption on June 7 proceeded with no mention of the Phippen Museum-area improvements.

That comes just weeks after council members debated the need for the roundabout at their May 26 budget workshop, and about a year after the previous council pulled the project from the 2016 budget, pushing it off to the 2017 budget deliberations.

Proposed development agreement sets out terms for Walden Ranch

PRESCOTT – Along with determining the owner’s financial responsibility for the Phippen Museum-area roundabout intersection on Highway 89, the proposed development agreement for the Walden Ranch development includes a number of other key points as well.

Among them:

• The owner will dedicate 96-foot-wide rights-of-way to the city for the extension of Larry Caldwell Drive and the Side Road Connector.

• Additional public right-of-way that will be 12 feet wide by 325 feet long at the northwest corner of the intersection of Larry Caldwell Drive and the Side Road Connector also will be dedicated to accommodate a future southbound right-turn lane.

• The owner will provide public trail easements through the property consistent with the city’s trails master plan.

• The owner will provide all infrastructure improvements required to make each phase stand alone and meet the operational requirements of the city, including roads, water, sewer, drainage, and fire.

• The owner will not be responsible for developing or paying for the future Granite Creek Bridge. The development agreement states: “The parties acknowledge that the capital improvement program of the city contains neither a timeframe nor funding for this future bridge; and the project, when completed, will have two separate means of access via Larry Caldwell Drive and the Side Road Connector, for which the owner has certain responsibilities as set forth (in the agreement). Accordingly, the owner shall have no responsibility for developing or participating in the cost of the future Granite Creek Bridge.”

• A water service agreement for 75.95 acre-feet will be included with the development agreement and presented to the City Council at a future meeting. The water will come from the city’s alternative-water supply, which is made up of non-groundwater sources (effluent and surface water that is recharged into the aquifer – the credits for which can be allocated by the city).

The Walden Ranch project is scheduled to be back on the City Council agenda June 21.

photo

The Phippen-area Walden Ranch plans.

At the May 26 workshop, city officials emphasized that the roundabout is a portion of the larger Highway 89 improvement project planned near the Phippen Museum.

Cost of the highway widening/utility improvements/Constellation Trail parking lot/roundabout project is expected to total about $3.6 million, with the roundabout intersection amounting to about $1.5 million of that. The first $1.5 million is included in the 2017 budget, with the remainder occurring in coming fiscal years.

Earlier on Tuesday, June 7, the council also heard a presentation on the Walden Ranch development – a 215-lot project planned east of Highway 89, which would be served by the roundabout.

At that workshop presentation, a question arose about the developers’ financial responsibilities for the area road improvements.

Councilman Steve Blair asked about the proposed development agreement’s mention of a “pro rata” share from the developer.

City Manager Craig McConnell responded that the “methodology” for determining the developer’s share is included in the proposed agreement between the city and developer.

The proposed development agreement states: “Said share shall be calculated by multiplying the cost of the … (intersection improvements) by the trips contributed by the project at build-out to the intersection as determined by an updated traffic impact analysis, compared to the volume of future trips through the intersection from Side Road Connector projected by the 2014 Regional Transportation Plan Update of the Central Yavapai Metropolitan Planning Organization (CYMPO).”

Ian Mattingly, city traffic engineer, later explained that the agreement would require the developer to conduct a traffic study – “Which will determine the subdivision’s share of the traffic at the roundabout, and serve as a basis for a monetary contribution toward its construction.”

Since the return of the roundabout project to the city budget, a number of Daily Courier readers have questioned the need for the project, and have raised the issue of Walden Ranch developer Jim Chamberlain’s $3,000 contribution to Mayor Harry Oberg’s 2015 election campaign.

City financial disclosure records show that among Oberg’s top campaign contributors were: Chamberlain – listed as president of Sun State Builders of Tempe; and local contractor Michael Fann, $1,000 (developer of the nearby The Dells project).

Several readers have questioned whether those contributions from developers have influenced Oberg’s support for the Phippen roundabout.

Oberg maintains, however, that the contributions did not enter into his views on the need for the roundabout.

“I had a lot of folks contribute to my campaign,” he said this week. (Records show that he received more than 100 contributions, ranging from $50 to $3,000). “I can tell you – that doesn’t make any difference to me; I do what’s right for Prescott.”

Oberg emphasizes that the Highway 89 project is a part of the multi-phase improvements being done by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

The state recently completed the Chino Valley-area Highway 89 widening and plans to take on the section from Deep Well Ranch Road to just south of the Highway 89A interchange in the coming fiscal year.

The city’s portion will run from where the ADOT project ends, near Highway 89A, to just south of the Phippen Museum.

In response to questions from the public on whether the developer to the east would be the only real beneficiary of the project, Mattingly said, “The primary reason for the reconstruction of this portion of (Highway) 89 is related to widening north of the intersection that necessitates improved traffic flow in the area, safer turning movements, and calming to transition cars from the four-lane section of road to the remaining two-lane configuration through the Granite Dells.”

Added Oberg: “It’s something we need to do. And sooner is better than later.”

Mattingly pointed out that several traffic studies have already been conducted in the area, dating back to 2006.

They include CYMPO’s regional transportation plans, two traffic impact analyses related to development of land to the west of Highway 89, and a city-wide intersection roundabout feasibility study.

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