By Edward Gately for The Arizona Republic
Fountain Hills residents have provided widely varying opinions on how they would like the town to proceed with reconstruction of the Avenue of the Fountains median.
Town staff received 367 completed questionnaires for the project. The town’s 2012-13 budget includes $1.8 million for design and construction of the median, with $1 million from the downtown fund and $800,000 from the capital projects fund.
So far, the Town Council has only approved proceeding with an assessment, at a cost of nearly $20,000. J2 Design recently completed a site inventory and analysis report, which will be used with the questionnaire results to draft two median renovation concepts, Mood said.
“At the end of the month, town staff and J2 Design will be meeting with groups that utilize the median or are involved in the downtown area to get additional input,” Paul Mood, Fountain Hills Development Services Director said. “The concepts will be finalized and presented at a public meeting and a council work-study. The preferred concept will be brought back to council at a regular meeting to determine if they would like to proceed with design and construction, or put the project on hold.”
“The highest priority item identified by the public was the seasonal character provided by the annual holiday lighting displays,” Mood said. “Other top priorities identified were related to infrastructure, such as replacement of irrigation systems … an assessment of the health of existing trees, repair or replacement of fountains, (a disabled-accessible) pathway and reuse of existing public-art water features.”
The questionnaire also allowed residents to provide comments. One recurring comment asked that the town not construct the median project, and instead use the money to repair roads such as Saguaro Boulevard.
The $800,000 from the capital projects fund can be used for other projects such as road repairs, Mood said. The $1 million from the downtown excise tax is restricted to downtown development, and any use of that money for road repairs and maintenance would need to be approved by the council, he said.
Mayor Linda Kavanagh said she has spoken to groups and individuals about the median project, and while they like the idea of some changes on the median, they “do not see this as the right time to be spending money.”
Kavanagh said she would favor spending money on necessary maintenance along the median, such as repairing the leaking fountains and the electrical system, and trimming some trees.
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