VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 6   | FEBRUARY 9 – 15, 2011


Carefree’s new signs called everything but attractive

Jim Van Allen honored for 7.5 years of service as posse member

david schwan and jim van allenOn behalf of council, Mayor David Schwan (l) presented Jim Van Allen, who recently retired from the Desert Foothills Posse and is now a write-in candidate for council, with a plaque during the Feb. 1 council meeting expressing gratitude for his dedicated service to the town of Carefree
Photos by Linda Bentley

CAREFREE – When presented with a plaque from council thanking him for his 7.5 years and 23,700 hours of service as a Desert Foothills Posse member, Jim Van Allen, who is now running as a write-in council candidate, said he was “honored and humbled” by the award.

He said he was accepting it for all of the men and women who have served as posse members for the past 50 years.

Van Allen told attendees at the Feb. 1 council meeting posse members do not receive any taxpayer funding and said “It’s not unusual for posse members to spend $10,000 of their own money.”

Van Allen said he decided to run as a write-in candidate after another candidate withdrew from the race and because he did not want to run until after his retirement from the posse became effective on Jan. 1.

He later confirmed his write-in name, as registered, is “Jim Van Allen.”

Jo Gemmill spoke during Call to the Public, as provided by A.R.S. 38-431.01(H), which states: “A public body may make an open call to the public during a public meeting … to allow individuals to address the public body on any issue within the jurisdiction of the public body.”

However, she used it to publicly campaign and express her support for Mayor David Schwan, stating he, even more so than the two prior mayors, has “really reached out to the business owners.”

Holly Pagliaro provided council an update on the Carefree Business Group’s (CBG) marketing campaign and representatives from Arizona Key magazine presented the marketing video it recently completed for CBG, which included in its “cast” the highly recognizable Lyn Hitchon.

With Councilman Peter Koteas absent, council voted unanimously to approve the award of a $167,735 contract to CPC Asphalt LLC, as the lowest responsible bidder, for street maintenance projects as prioritized by the town’s consultant Patrick Neal.

The expenditure was budgeted and will be paid for with Highway User Revenue Funds, otherwise known as gasoline tax.

Council also voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of median rocks for Cave Creek Road east of Pima Road at a cost not to exceed $18,000 and the purchase of playground equipment at a cost not to exceed $37,000, to be paid for, in part, by funds donated to the town for that purpose.

Discussion of the town’s new orange directional signs was placed on the agenda at the request of Councilwoman Susan Vanik.

carefree;s new signWhile Carefree’s new highly visible directional signs are said to be working for driving business into Carefree’s core they’ve been called everything but aesthetically pleasing.

Vanik said it was not a personal comment about Howard’s [Bertram] work. However, she said the signs were “worthy of discussion,” indicating they do not comport with “touting Carefree as an upscale community.”

“I’m not sure who spearheaded the location and number,” said Vanik, adding, “I believe in quality, not quantity.”

Councilman Bob Coady said he’s received a lot of e-mails about the signs and stated most people found them “pretty hideous.”

Councilman Doug Stavoe said he’s been talking to a lot of people while out campaigning and he too has received a lot of “unsolicited comments” that were “unfavorable.”

Neiss gave a short overview of how the signs came to be, starting with businesses complaining about their lack of visibility, which resulted in a moratorium on sandwich signs and then the sandwich signs creeping out onto Tom Darlington and Cave Creek roads.

Stavoe said he was concerned at the time that this had not gone through the planning commission and was told it was an emergency measure.

Vice Mayor Glenn Miller said, “We all voted on this. Why do we want to beat on this? Everyone agrees those signs catch their eye. People who say they’re ‘gaudy,’ ‘they’re ugly’ – I try to educate them.”

Pagliaro told council the CBG held four sign meetings and while some people call the signs “garish,” the plaques that will contain the individual business names in blue were not finished yet.

She said the CBG decided the cost for a business to have its name placed on the signs would be $500 per year for the top spot and $200 per year for the other spots.

And, according to Pagliaro, all the spaces sold out quickly except for one sign, which she said no one wanted to be on and could probably be moved.

Councilman Bob Gemmill said Bertram came up with these signs “that are obviously catching people’s eye.” He said the merchants were pleased and he favored leaving the signs alone.

Stavoe said, “I believe everyone thinks the signs are working but in light of the comments we should take them into consideration.”

During public comment, Roberta Dwyer said, “People are telling me, ‘Bobbie, go tell them we hate the signs.’”

Although she stated economic recovery had to come first, Dwyer said, “There are a lot of us in town who don’t like the signs. I moved to Carefree. These look more like ‘care not.’”

Jim Peirce said you can’t drive very far in Carefree without seeing a sign.

“It’s one thing to be noticeable,” said Peirce, who stated the signs had a “carnival look” and said there hasn’t been a positive comment.

Melissa Price said, as a business owner, the signs are phenomenal and driving business into the town core. However, as the president of her HOA the feedback she’s been getting is “not so positive.”

Price said, “I can understand Councilwoman Vanik’s idea to take another look,” and suggested perhaps the right time is when the town reviews its general plan.     
Carefree Station owner Rob Gabrick said, “The signs are today’s answer. They’re noticeable and they work.”

Catherine Marr, who owns Venues Café, said, “Without a doubt, the signs are very helpful. Maybe not aesthetically perfect but people are finding us.”

Schwan said, “Everyone in Carefree is a critic. I’ve told people we should wait until the signs are finished with the businesses’ names.”