canfield letters cartoon

Carefree Bike Lanes

Mr. Jim Van Allen recently published a statement in the June 17 edition of Sonoran News and possibly other publications regarding the “Bike Lanes” which will be constructed in Carefree along Tom Darlington and Pima Roads, and in both Carefree and Cave Creek along Cave Creek Road, starting this fall.

The Carefree Town Council welcomes constructive comments and input based upon facts, but when the facts are not understood or are misrepresented by someone professing to have more knowledge of the “facts” than others, it can lead readers to develop the wrong conceptions and understanding of the subject and detract from the work of the town council on behalf of Carefree. Such an occurrence is neither appropriate nor helpful to the residents of Carefree.
The underlying facts relative to the “Bike Lanes” directly contradict Mr. Van Allen’s published statement. I would point out that the these facts were shared with Mr. Van Allen in a special meeting with the town requested by Mr. Van Allen following the discussion and approval of the project at the May 5 council meeting.

More specifically, below is a quotation from a portion of Mr. Van Allen’s published statement regarding the “Bike Lanes”:

“The awful highlights are: we will lose a lot of our medians; we will lose most of our plants/trees; there will be long stretches of one lane only traffic; the bike lanes will be 5’ wide on both sides; the present lanes are 13 to 14 ft. wide … they will be narrowed to 11 ft. each; Many of the turn lanes and acceleration lanes will go away. The two roundabouts, and the great signs on them will go away ... along with the landscape.”

Let’s examine the accuracy of Mr. Van Allen’s statements:
1. According to Mr. Van Allen “we will lose a lot of our medians” The reality: Carefree’s Planning Department used the approved engineering and construction drawings and measured the amount of medians that will be “lost” (or “reduced”) on the plans for Carefree from this project. Of the approximately 22,000 linear feet of medians in the project area, 7% will be reduced (or shortened). Of the remaining 93% of the medians, 19% will be narrowed and 81% will be untouched. We don’t believe that it is accurate to characterize this as we will “lose a lot” of medians.

2. According to Mr. Van Allen “we will lose most of our plants/trees” The reality: Based on the plant salvage assessment, we will maintain approximately 90% of the plant material currently in place, remove 7% of the material, and salvage the remaining 3% (or 9 plants). In many of these areas where the medians will be reduced/shortened, there were no plants, only decomposed granite and/or boulders. In the areas where medians are narrowed, most plants there are centered in the medians, and therefore unaffected. Given these facts, we don’t believe it is accurate to state, as Mr. Van Allen has done, that “we will lose most of our plants/trees”.

3. According to Mr. Van Allen “there will be long stretches of one lane only traffic” The reality: There will be no reduction in the number of traffic lanes under this project. There will be no traffic circulation changes anywhere in the project area. While some travel lanes will be reduced in width, there will be no reduction in the number of lanes. We think that Mr. Van Allen confuses this “Bike Lane” Project with the MAG Framework Study conducted by the Maricopa Association of Governments - which suggested some lanes could be eliminated based upon current and projected traffic flows over the next 20 – 30 years. Again, Mr. Van Allen’s statement is not true.

4. According to Mr. Van Allen “many of the turn lanes and acceleration lanes will go away.” The reality: Simply not true. There will be no changes to the turn or acceleration lanes. See response to number 3 above.

5. According to Mr. Van Allen “The two roundabouts, and the greats signs on them will go away … along with landscape." The reality: Again, simply not true. The two roundabouts and the signage on them will stay. See response to number 3 above.

What is also very important to understand is that this “Bike Lane” project will not cost Carefree and Cave Creek $4 million dollars as stated by Mr. Van Allen. In fact, Carefree will actually receive approximately $305,000 in value upon completion of this project.

Please consider the following calculations to arrive at this $305,000 gain figure. The total project cost is approximately $3.7 million. Of this total cost of $3.7 million dollars, the Federal Government is paying for 94.7% of that total cost; the Towns of Carefree and Cave Creek pay the remaining 5.7% or $215,629. Carefree’s share of this figure is $140,158 because Carefree has more road surface involved than Cave Creek. The project also includes applying a slurry seal the full width and length of the total Carefree and Cave Creek project area, which will amount to a road maintenance savings of approximately $445,000 to Carefree – money which Carefree would have had to expend on these roads in the next few years. Taking this $445,000 savings into account and subtracting the approximately $140,000 which Carefree will pay yields a net gain of $305,000.

I believe that residents need to understand the facts when making judgments on such matters. Hopefully, this will help correct the record on this matter.

Les Peterson
Carefree Mayor


The serious side of Independence Day

My first memory of seeing Independence Day fireworks was when I was a child. Held in my father’s arms on the banks of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River, I safely witnessed and was delighted by this new and dazzling spectacle in the nighttime sky, although the loud bangs spooked me.

This father-son ritual would be repeated over many July 4th celebrations. On one such occasion, when I was on the verge of teen hood, my father uncharacteristically said to me, “I hope you never have to be in a war.” My father provided no follow-up clarification, nor did I ask him why he made this out-of-context statement. However, deep down, I think I knew.

My father was a WW II veteran of army engagements in the South Pacific, of battles, skirmishes and hand-to-hand combat (I would later find out from an army buddy of his) on multiple islands with exotic sounding names. He never talked to me about his experiences there. Ever. Except for that one statement he made on that Independence Day.

We Americans will once again gather this July 4th, many of us with sons and daughters, to enjoy the pyrotechnic displays and that red, white and blue finale commemorating our country’s independence in 1776. And though we adults can still partake of the childlike delight of fireworks, we are seasoned enough to reflect on the serious side of Independence Day.

America’s independence required sacrifice; freedom was not gifted to us, it was fought for. Not everyone lived to enjoy the fruits. So keep in mind the Founding Fathers and the countless men and women who have given their lives to protect this freedom when enjoying the July 3rd and July 4th fireworks in Cave Creek.

God’s blessings to them and to America.

Vincent Francia
Cave Creek Mayor


Some Good News for Carefree … and some?

Within the past month or so, we heard that two of our food and bar units were closing. However the good news is that the Black Mountain Coffee Shop has new owners who will take over on July 1. Also, the operator of the Cellar 13 has a new partner, and will reopen soon, perhaps with a slightly different name. Also over the weekend the pool contractor completed the work approved. I would have to say that the hundreds of hours they put in this project is also: Good News and we got our money's worth.

Some more good news for you, Don. For years certain members of the Town Council, staff, and their highly edited ‘truth’ blog have claimed "no one in Carefree reads Sonoran News.” Well, it seems that is far from the truth. When I wrote a short letter about the 'World of the Bike Lanes," which you published on June 17, the usual (and a couple of surprise) 'Attack Dogs’ went to work. They claim that most of my 'facts' were wrong. And, they added a few "facts" of their own. To my surprise they did not comment on the other letter, about the splash pad and the surveys. Wonder why?

One of the biggest issues they raised was my statement that we would lose "a lot of our medians" … so they went to work to measure and then did some math to prove me wrong.

Of the 22,000 feet of medians they say … 7% would disappear (that is 1,540 feet).
Of the 22,000 feet of medians they say 19% would be narrowed ... if that is to be done on both sides of the median that is another 9,280 feet of median that is affected by being cut away. With 5,280 feet to the mile, over 2 miles of our medians will be affected. FOLKS, I again say...
Then they completely ignored what I wrote in the middle ... "the next shoe to drop". The Bike lanes project is only Phase 1. I referred, then and now, to the next phase of the MAG study and the now official Baker Study. WHEN ALL APPROVED AND COMPLETED, they will essentially produce the results I outlined. If you think the Miller/Price 'slate' will not approve most, if not all, you just wait and see. But then, of course, it will be too late to save the Carefree WE know and love. This week landscaping was removed to make way for the new gas fired fireplaces. That in addition to a tree which was removed to relocate the Monster Slide to make room for Miller/Price Splash Pad. Don't look for the plants salvaged ... there are none.

They highlight that they will salvage NINE EXISTING PLANTS. Nine plants in a space of 22,000 feet? Go take a look at what is there. Many plants are dead or dying, yet there is not one dedicated cent in the new budget to bring the medians up to even the minimum aesthetic standards (they say there is money in the contingency fund). In that same budget they approved a new $60,000 contract, starting July 1, for a full time median maintenance landscaper?? They say that this person would "dial in" to the medians. However, from October to probably March we will be paying out $5,000 a month and the contractors will be doing their job??

I have refused to reply to the 'attack dogs'. I stand behind my summary and we will all just wait to see. They have 16 more months of their self- extended term to do whatever they please and to date have proven they could care less what the citizens voted for in the Surveys.

Jim Van Allen
Carefree resident

Carefree, be careful what you think

Sadly, there is a member of the Carefree Town Council (Mr. Miller) and an ever present member of their Planning & Zoning Commission (Ms. Hitchon, who also seems to be the Town’s unofficial videographer and creative writer) who relish the opportunity to publicly launch boorish commentary at those they dislike. This is quite understandable from Councilman Miller, but a bit surprising from Ms. Hitchon who portrays herself to be an upstanding purveyor of her truth. I suspect their rationale, along with the tacit support they receive from the town staff, is predicated on the need to maintain damage control or to massage public perception. Criticizing the messenger in order to diminish the impact of the message has been a mainstay of Carefree administrations for almost two decades.

To the point, following the Special council meeting during which two ‘economic development’ projects were approved [Splash Pad & Fireplaces], I communicated with the authors of the emails sent to (CFM) regarding the disposition of their comments. I explained that the mayor had begun the meeting by stating he was advised he could not read comments from anyone not present at the meeting. For that reason, and because I had no wish to subject residents to a potentially unpleasant encounter with Town Hall, I advised those [now] 15 authors that I would not forward their comments to the mayor, nor would I disclose their names. [1 of the 15 comments was regarding transparency, not the Splash Pad.] Not one person questioned or objected to my decision. I went on to suggest that, although the projects had already been approved by the council at that Special meeting, if they wished they could subsequently forward comments directly. Since neither Jim Van Allen nor I wrote a comment to ourselves, we decided we wouldn’t forward a comment either! We spoke publicly, on the record instead.

At approximately 10:58 minutes into the official town recording of the meeting, and during Call to the Public while I was addressing the council, the mayor stated that the town had received 8 comments. He asked if I had more, and I said I did. He neither disclosed the contents nor the authors of the comments he read, yet a recent ‘truth’ blog noted there were 4 in favor of the Splash Pad and 4 opposed. That is extraordinary insight given that no results were disclosed by the mayor. More significantly, it is a huge anomaly considering 13 comments to CFM were opposed and only 1 was conditionally in favor not to mention that, of the 50 residents answering the town survey on the subject, only 10 indicated support. If the mayor had been contemplating the 8 comments he had received then his thoughts must have been intercepted by the ‘truth’ blogger. Truly amazing.

Be careful what you think Mr. Mayor, and don’t get on wrong side of her ‘truth’, for you never know what ‘truth’ will be published next.

John Traynor
Co-Author of


Now Carefree is getting a new Splash Pad

This is very disappointing, indeed, but not at all surprising. The Carefree council's makeup consists of imagination- and creativity-challenged members and mayor. To seize on a whacky idea like that of Councilwoman Price, and acting with only anecdotal commentary as to any benefits that might accrue from its construction, illustrates how deep the imagination and creativity deficit among these elected "representatives" truly is. As Mr. Van Allen suggested in his letter to Sonoran News, this entire group charged with shepherding the town to responsible actions needs to be recalled – and the sooner the better.

The town council spent well into six figures for a consultant report regarding what should be implemented to generate sound and durable economic development, but then pays no attention to what the report suggests (or doesn't suggest, aka the splash-pad). Of course, the report is typical consultant speak with a ton of background, fancy graphics and a lot of words, but little of substance – mostly a reiteration of what town staff and administrators provided as "opinions," thoughts and expressions we've all heard before. Not much at all in the way of originality and a giant waste of town revenue. And a splash-pad (not even mentioned in the consultant report) is the best the Carefree town council can come up with??

This council also appears to think, because the members were successful in an election, that they have to do something, anything, to make it appear that they are responsible, intelligent and inventive (all attributes of which they, sadly, are completely devoid). Instead, they ignore the residents' desires; fail to see Carefree is a rather tiny hamlet with only 1,800, or so, full-time residents, most of whom are 60-plus years-old, and who prefer the solitude of that which mostly exists now. These residents enjoy Carefree for its quiet ambience and only just tolerate the occasional trade shows, parades, closures of roads, and the crowding from too many visitors. The residents have been abundantly clear in several surveys that they are not enthusiastic supporters of spending money to attract a routine, streaming plague of additional visitors.

One suggestion from one, or a few, residents that received some additional attention was that of constructing a movie theater. But I saw where no council member appeared to equate the success of a stand-alone movie theater in Carefree with the experiences of the Desert Foothills Library that offers frequent movie nights, or afternoons. How many folks attend this film venue that often provides older films, some of which are in black-and-white? How many people attend these film offerings, on an average? Wouldn't the success or non-success of the library's experience be a proper avenue to explore? Or will Ms. Price next suggest the town re-locate Hollywood's Grauman's Chinese Theater to Carefree?

And I didn't see where any discussion occurred as to how this council-approved, town-saving water toy (aka, splash-pad) would be funded.

Is it still, supposedly, to be built only from donations from the public or from private companies, or will the funding emanate from town coffers, as Councilwoman Price thinks is necessary?
This council makes a mockery and burlesque of what should be expected from small town administrators charged with responsible management of the citizens' interests.

The recall of all of them can't happen soon enough.

Fred Groszkruger


Why are gun free zones extra dangerous?

As tragic as the brutal shooting of 9 totally innocent worshipping Christians was in Charleston, South Carolina, I want us to remember the killing of 13 and wounding of 30 innocent, purposely unarmed, members of our military at Fort Hood! Perhaps the NRA member blaming Pastor and State Senator Clementa Pinckney for the killings is a stretch. But Pinckney did vote against concealed-carry gun legislation. Thanks to our obsession to topple the government of Syria in behalf of Saudi Arabia and our irresponsible backing of ISIS, hundreds of thousands of Christians, Jews and non-radical Muslims have been slaughtered with virtually no outrage by the vast majority of our so-called priests, pastors, ministers and President Obama! It is interesting to note that the Obama administration tried to label the Fort Hood massacre as "Work Place Violence" despite the killer’s Muslim extremist ties. But somehow all the victims are now considered "WAR CASUALTIES" by an act of Congress. Somehow our media has not dwelled on this conflict of interpretation. Whereas the world powers are hell bent on disarming all of us citizens, it is a proven fact that most massacres occur in GUN FREE ZONES and not where citizens are known to be packing heat!

Joseph Dupont
Towanda, Pennsylvania



The cost of freedom

I am 85 years old, the son of Italian immigrants. I served in the army for approximately 5 years before and during the Korean War. One son has served in the army. Our grandson is a helicopter pilot in the navy. He served a tour in the Persian Gulf. We have a granddaughter and her husband in the marines. The last three are Naval Academy graduates. We as a family well understand duty to country and freedom.

I am exercising my freedom of speech while I still have it. Our freedoms are at risk. I wish to address probably the most emotional issue in the nation today. It is the sacrifice required to “defend and protect” the Constitution and the core value of this great nation, freedom. Our government and majority of Americans now understand that ISIS has become a grave threat to freedom, both through radicalization and direct attack. All Americans know there are some nations and many other radical, inhumane elements whose only objective is to destroy us. Everything we are, everything we stand for, freedom. America is truly the light of the world. They want to extinguish this light. The preservation of freedom is in danger.

The PBS public viewing of dead American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq has personalized war. We think of these soldiers as husbands, wives, fathers, sons, daughters and dear friends. They are! We can no longer bear the thought of even one soldier being killed. It hurts. It’s too personal. It should be! The value of every American life is integral to who we are. The price of freedom is costly and painful.

In reference to the Iraqi army, Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, said, “There is no will to fight.” Correct.

Some in the world have come to believe America, too, seems to have “no will to fight.” Incorrect.

I quote Thomas Jefferson, “We pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor” toward the preservation of freedom.

Our third president simply and clearly defined freedom and the cost of freedom. In his inaugural address, President John F. Kennedy stated, “Let every nation know, whether is wishes us good or ill that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and success of liberty.”

The truth is the spirit of Jefferson and Kennedy lives in our hearts, minds and souls. This is America.

The truth shall keep us free.

Gene DiBenedetto
Cave Creek