BY STEVE LAMAR | MAY 21, 2014
Trenk Slate council sweeps open space money to their general fund
I was drawn like a moth to a flame to the Cave Creek open space committee meeting a couple weeks ago as its agenda featured our mayor’s report on a new resort project he is apparently lobbying them to recommend. I couldn’t figure out what a resort development had to do with our 4,000 acres of annexed open space. The meeting was a real eye opener on a number of levels. The most appalling topic of discussion was the Trenk slate sweeping $800,000 in excess sales tax/property tax revenue earmarked for the purchase and/or maintenance of open space to the general fund so that they can spend it as they please.
The committee expressed warranted outrage at the Trenk council’s most recent rejection of our general plan number one priority. The mayor explained that unless citizens come to every council meeting to object in force, bad things will continue to happen. Pithy observation by the mayor that there is no expectation Trenk’s gang of Durkin, Monachino, and Spitzer are going to support your best interests unless you keep a boot on their throat. The mayor intended to chastise the citizens, but his insight speaks directly to the real issue ... a bad council. When we need the money the most they sweep it to the general fund.
But I digress, back to the mayor’s new spin; it’s a doozy, but first, let me set the stage for you.
The open space committee was formed when we annexed the 4,000 acres of state land and rezoned it as open space. The deal was simple and fair. The state agreed to auction the land at open space valuation in exchange for more dense rezoning of commercial state land along Carefree Highway and zoning approximately 100 acres for a resort with a 125 acre buffer to our open space. The state got the density on Carefree Highway. The state got the infrastructure along Carefree Highway to serve their commercial land. Cave Creek got the open space valued for auction as open space.
Our mayor in negotiations with three state land commissioners has really done us proud ... or not. The state continues to refuse to put our open space up for auction. The state has breached our agreement and refuses to value our open space as open space, and has refused to accept two separate appraisals of our open space at $400 an acre.
Now the land commissioner and unknown developers want Cave Creek to rezone 125 acres of open space buffer to commercial for the resort, and cooperate with the development of the resort on state land. More traffic through our west side neighbors’ land, but no 4,000 acres of open space to off set the adverse effect on their day to day lives.
According to the mayor, this is a great deal for Cave Creek because the state may let us purchase a few acres of open space valued at one acre zoning (very expensive), based on an unknown formula and dependent on how much profit it makes off the sale of the land for the resort. Details to follow.
Needless to say the mayor got some rather pointed questions from the committee, and a whole boat load of intelligent skepticism. Let’s see, we give them what they want, they refuse to honor our agreement. So we give them more rezoning, and help them make money on a resort bringing more traffic through our neighborhoods, in exchange for a our acceptance of their breach of our original agreement by purchasing our open space for one acre development prices. Can you blame the committee of good citizens for looking cross eyed and open mouthed at the mayor’s suggestion that this is our finest hour in negotiations with the state.
But let’s put it in perspective. The Trenk slate is sweeping open space money to the general fund. They try at every turn to abandon our trail system. Princeling Monachino was directed by the mayor to formulate a financing plan for the purchase of our open space last June. The Mayor confirmed that no plan exists.
The Trenk slate is busy defending themselves in lawsuits, coordinating the efforts of slanderous anonymous operatives to muzzle the voices of the citizens, and getting the lawyers and political consultants lined up for the recall election. Lies, fliers, and big, big signs are just around the corner. Open space ... forget about it.
Heck, given the ruthless, selfish, conduct of the Trenk slate, no wonder the mayor thinks rolling over to the state hoping they will like him and give us a few very expensive crumbs of open space is a great accomplishment.
Bottom line ... we lose until we take care of business in November and clean house.