Guest Editorial

By Jim Van Allen   |  january 20, 2016

Expensive holiday gifts for Ed Lewis

Back in February 2015 Ed Lewis said he was done with Carefree. He insulted the mayor and council and really blasted Councilman Farrar. Then in August he came back with his new Luxury Condo Plan for his South parcel but still no plans for the North parcel. This time he was not holding the Town of Carefree 'hostage' by insisting the town spend up to $4 million for the ASU project. Everything looked to be on the 'up and up' as they say, even though losing the ASU project is considered a major blow to the town.

However, the next shoe to drop was the town (without budget authority to do so and no public approval by the council) started to spend thousands of dollars for the direct benefit of Lewis. These expenditures are at the 33 Easy Street Building recently purchased by the town. A new set of steps $3,000; new lighting $2,600; new handrails $1,250 and all for Lewis at this time due to his desire to lease the building to use as his Sales Office to sell his condos. All this in addition to almost $7,000 we paid for an architect to look at the interior of the building. Now you need to remember the town bought this building (and took on debt to do so) for the purpose of using it to house the Council Chambers next August when our lease expires in the Post Office building. The Lewis Sales Office lease (1 year with an additional 1 year option) will not facilitate the town’s use of the building for Council Chambers so we will have to either arrange an extension on the present facilities or come up with a different plan – either way the town will have to spend more money.

Now, after all of those early "Christmas Gifts", the Council has agreed to spend over $300,000 (when installation is included) for 26 new Gas Lights predominantly surrounding the two Lewis parcels. Some on the council and Gary Neiss insulted our intelligence by calling these lights "pedestrian" lights for the "dark area of the town core". Folks, those are two empty dirt lots and no one EVER walks there at night. Only a fool would believe bright LED lighting will make dirt lots more attractive for night walks. How Miller and Neiss can feed us that baloney with a straight face is beyond me.

Let me give you some FACTS. On Easy Street, from the Sundial Cafe to the English Tea Room (a distance of approximately 750 feet), and the real town commercial core, there are only seven gas kights. But Glenn Miller sold the council on the need in front of Lewis's condo units (East and South of the Post Office) for 15 or more new lights and that area covers less than half of the area of the real town core. A few of these light are to be across the street from one another. Another huge and free Christmas present to Lewis we taxpayers are funding. Soon we will have 60 bright LED faux gas lamps destroying the precious Night Sky, something we promised our citizens we would never do. None of these LED lamps meet the town’s own code to be shielded and shine downward. It is increasingly likely that the FAA will use the bright lights of Carefree as a beacon for inbound jets into Scottsdale Airport.

To help Mr. Lewis even more, the town hung a huge banner in the amphitheater for him and allowed him to display two large billboards advertising his condos. What's next, rename Easy Street for him??

Folks you are already witnessing the huge mistake the Bike Lanes project is for Carefree and even worse for Cave Creek and you will soon see Ms Price's "Disneyland Gateways." Of course the Fireplaces and Splash Pad are already done. All of these expenses are under cover of "economic development" (or free money) but nobody is showing you and I the ROI (return on investment) for Carefree. Many thousands of people found Carefree during the Pumpkin and Christmas events, all without garish lighting, bike lanes, or Disneyland Gateways. Town government is really just betting on the come that lewis will develop both lots. If you’d like seeing 50 foot buildings in the core, just wait, Gary, Glenn, Melissa and company have a plan for you, perhaps even a bridge.

Shortly we’ll be seeing rebuttals by the basketful to my letter. Please cut it out and save it for the future... just like my many letters about the huge mistake the bike lane project would become for both towns.