The good news is that after heavy revisions to a flawed Ritz-Carlton resort and residences plan introduced earlier this year it’s now in a positive place, and nearing approval. Anecdotal and polling information all demonstrates overwhelming support for the project. And there appears to be a solid majority of supporters on the Paradise Valley Town Council two weeks before a scheduled December 17th vote.
The bad news is that Vice Mayor Paul Dembow, who purportedly has higher political aspirations, is showing leadership qualities far short of such ambition.
When he first ran for the Paradise Valley Town Council Dembow ran on a platform vehemently opposed to approval of the Montelucia Resort at Tatum & Lincoln. He even ran newspaper ads with the universal “no” sign slashed over the hotel’s name. He lost. Two years later he won, running on a pro-resort platform.
Subsequently he rightfully voted for a plan to revitalize the old Mountain Shadows Resort property. The plan is dense, the densest one ever approved in Paradise Valley, and far more intense than that now being proposed for the Ritz.
Yet, despite the public support – including the support of the largest HOA closest to the site — and substantial tax revenue the project would mean — Dembow still appears to be uncommitted. Indeed, the Ritz revenue could offset and mean reductions in tax increases Dembow approved while on council.
Why this convolution?
Well, several former Mayors while saying they support the idea of a Ritz would like the plan returned to the Planning Commission. They want further density reductions. Huh? Like the 13% reduction announced just this week largely engineered by Mayor Michael Collins? One of the former Mayors was Kent Wick. He sold the beloved Judson School to a homebuilder. And whe was Paradise Valley Mayor in 1992 he and the council lured the old Mountain Shadow Resort and its tax revenue from Maricopa County’s jurisdiction into the township with intense development rights that make the Ritz plan look like the open space at McCormick Ranch railroad park. We’re not sure why Dembow would be looking to him for advice.
Mayors and congressmen are not made of wish and wash. They are born of leaders. That’s what Dembow needs to be now that public acclaim and a developer haircut has found the Ritz. The anti-Montelucia plank didn’t work out so well for him once upon a time. Neither will convoluted logic.