Here are some notes taken on tonight’s meeting. They are not complete, but include relevant information on what occurred tonight for those opposed to the proposed South Mountain freeway.
A large number of Laveen residents, I’d guess over 100, attended the informational Town Hall meeting held in the cafeteria at Cesar Chavez High School in Laveen tonight.They were joined by residents of the Gila River Indian Community, and others from across the valley who are concerned about a new freeway being constructed. There were also 20 police officers present from the Phoenix PD, in addition to campus security who stopped two people and asked them if they were going to protest.
The town hall was organized by Phoenix city councilman Michael Nowakowski, an advocate of the proposed Loop 202 freeway who has regularly proclaimed that he wants construction to begin as soon as possible. Therefore, it seemed that this town hall might be the sight of a lively discussion on the pros and cons of a South Mountain Loop 202, especially as this was how the event was billed in the promotional materials.
However, an interview with councilman Nowakowski on ABC15 today foreshadowed the general mood of tonight’s town hall in Laveen when he stated “People have been arguing over this freeway since 1985. My thing is let’s just build the darn freeway and get it over with.” This was the one sided perspective that dominated the “discussion” tonight, as ADOT gave the presentation for the Pecos rd alignment and the No Build alternative. This presentation was similar to the one they had been giving at the forums in Gila River last month, with the exception that they no longer present the on reservation alignment. ADOT also had a new FAQ packet that addresses the changes since the No Build vote in GRIC. This FAQ is also on the ADOT website now, from what we have already read of it there are many problems.
Councilman Nowakowski spoke after ADOT’s presentation, he admitted that he is a supporter of the freeway, but it’s for the community to decide. He then suggested people make their way to a pro-Loop 202 petition near the entrance to the room and sign the petition. Nowakowski then spoke that he is ready to work with MAG, ADOT, city and tribal officials to get this freeway built, and then he made a claim that he would do everything he could to stop it from destroying South Mountain.
After he spoke, he brought up a handful of Laveen residents representing the Laveen Community Council, and the Laveen Citizens for Responsible Development (LCRD). Each of these residents spoke in support of the proposed Loop 202, councilman Nowakowski encouraged Laveen residents to contact LCRD or their president Steven Klein to get involved in supporting the freeway.
The event ended with something that resembled a Q&A, that is unless your question was critical of the freeway. A resident from Laveen asked a question on Laveen homes being taken for the freeway, Nowakowski responded by brushing off the inquiry and saying that “we’re here to talk about the process, not to debate the freeway”, meaning the process of building the freeway, not whether or not Laveen residents should have a say if this massive infrastructure project be built. An Akimel O’odham member of the Gila River Indian Community, spoke to question the logic in billing the evening’s town hall as a discussion when no critical perspectives on the freeway were invited or allowed to speak, and why there was only a petition for the pro-Loop 202 faction. At this point a person on the other side of the room interjected and let people know that they can sign up for contact if they’re interested in opposing the freeway.
The event ended after the no Loop 202 signup sheet was announced.