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An interesting story just got more so.

We’ve previously written about the public affairs debacle in Maricopa and the professional pugilists that have come to town to upend a popular plan for a private motorsports club called Apex.  Here is the link. The project gained unanimous Planning Commission and City Council support despite their black arts, underscoring the Keystone Cops approach led by former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods.  The smackdown of the “opposition” at the City Council hearing was epic, led by Maricopa Mayor Christian Price’s dismantling of Woods.

Woods, who is likely to have never been to Maricopa in his life, showed up opposing the case but wouldn’t say who was paying him, though it is widely believed to be Attesa, a project in nearby Casa Grande that oddly believes it must “kill” Apex in Maricopa for success.  They must not think very highly of their own business plan.  The owner is an eccentric individual, but that is a topic for another time.

The plot thickens and the stench? More pungent.

Let us say here if any of this isn’t true we welcome Attesa and its lawyers and lobbyists to send us clarification and submit an alternate point of view.

Woods was purportedly hired by Snell & Wilmer, the law firm for Attesa.  Arizona’s largest law firm and previously one with a sterling reputation apparently didn’t like the optics of the too obvious connection so they dished out their dirty work to Woods.  The Snell & Wilmer effort is led by Nick Wood, no relation to Grant Woods.  Wood has also apparently brought in Joe Villasenor, a former City of Phoenix staffer well known in Arizona real estate circles, to assist with the anonymous attacks. 

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It’s where moms and dads teach their kids to play golf and seniors can find an affordable, accommodating place to enjoy the links.  It is the beloved Coronado Golf Course, a jewel in southern Scottsdale.

With its nine holes and driving range traversing the Indian Bend Wash, city property and some 7 acres of private land Coronado is a testament to city governments past who knew how to get the public and private sector working together for the common good.  Scottsdale has managed to lay off major recreational, flood control, landscaping and other costs on the private sector.  Compare this to other municipal courses around the Valley including Tempe’s Rolling Hills just a few miles away.  There, the city has had to pump millions into the property just to keep it going.

But Scottsdale doesn’t have to do that at Coronado.  This doesn’t mean the operation doesn’t have challenges.  There is only so much money in the driving range and affordable golf course business.  It even faced elimination over a decade ago when one of the most controversial city managers in Scottsdale history, Jan Dolan, sought to replace the course with practice fields for the San FranciscIMG_4332o Giants.  Scottsdale elected officials can still hear their ears ringing from the outcry of golfers who successfully rallied against the plan.

Fast forward to the present.  Two neighbors living on the ninth hole with too much time on their hands have asked the city, via a citizen’s petition, to not allow new driving range poles to be erected.  And, they have asked the city to eliminate the golf course and expand El Dorado Park into it.

This is asinine.

Anyone at the City of Scottsdale from Mayor Jim Lane to Virginia Korte to Kathy Littlefield to anyone on staff should have their head examined if they entertain such a notion. IMG_4333

First, the poles.

Here are some pictures of the current fencing between the driving range and 9th hole.  The fencing is old and needs to be replaced in order to protect golfers playing the final hole.  So what does the owner responsibly do?  Buy wooden polls from SRP and begin the process of replacing the fence with new netting and such posts about 40 or 50 feet high.  But TWO neighbors don’t like that idea.  So city staff makes the golf course operator’s life miserable. What gems.

Mind you, wooden utility poles  run up and down Miller behind the neighbor’s homes.  Wooden poles are used for driving range protection at the Continental Golf Course just north of Coronado.  And they are used at the Cracker Jax driving range in north Scottsdale.

So why not here?  Double bogey is a bad score in golf and it describes these two stooges and their illogical argument.  IMG_4335

Next, what about the idea of eliminating the golf course and expanding El Dorado Park into it?  Does anyone know where those millions will come from?  This would be Villa Monterrey on steroids at a time when Scottsdale has less money for capital projects, especially needless ones.  Don’t forget 7 acres of the course is private land.  So that would require condemnation of the land, payment and then ongoing maintenance.  All of this would need to take place over the outcry from the course’s constituency which numbers in the tens of thousands.  It can be reignited at any time, just like the San Francisco Giants’ caper.  We hope the owner strongly considers doing this to remind all at the City of Scottsdale that city leaders past created a real gem on those acres.  And it should remain that way rather than so frustrate the owner that he finally throws up his hands, throws away the course and puts apartments on his 7 acres.  Now that would be a travesty, but also some sweet justice for those who luxuriously complain about a golf course as a neighbor only to get some big, ugly apartments as new ones.

 

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Capitalism can break down caste systems.  It can also build them up.  When one is successful in technology, financial services or real estate, the latter which happens quite often in Arizona, a certain strata is achieved.

But not everyone gives back.  Not everyone chooses to deploy their expertise, riches or both.

But in the case of SunBelt Holdings CEO John Graham the opposite is true.

Graham has owned and developed properties Arizona over.  And if you happen to find yourself admiring the south side of Tempe’s Town Lake these days, Graham has a lot to do with it.  You see, he’s the developer of Marina Heights, the mammoth project anchored by State Farm, sitting along the water in front of Sun Devil Stadium.  The architecture is impressive and of its setting.  It’s a job well done.

And speaking of impressive look at this article in last week’s Arizona Republic talking of Graham’s civic ethic, working to turnaround Valley YMCA operations.  It’s a noble effort that is touching thousands of families.  Here is a link.

So while the concept of noblesse oblige is distinctly French our state is lucky to have a business leader who doesn’t treat helping his community, in a big way, as a foreign concept.

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