Opinion by Tommy Acosta
Sedona AZ (February 14, 2012) – The die is cast. The fight was won. The lights are on. The deed is done.
There are always unintended consequences to every conquest and in the aftermath of the ADOT victory in the S.R. 89A lighting battle it will be the businesses in West Sedona that will pay the price.
Sales tax receipts don’t lie and in the recent dismal showing of sales-tax collections, a sad tale is told.
This is one of woe and hardship for the small-business people that make their living in stores along the 89A corridor and for the city that depends on those sales.
The tearing up of the sidewalks in West Sedona to lay the power lines for the lights is like a giant wave heading towards us.
Just look at the fiasco at the Giant intersection. The construction has been going on for months due to the “unforeseen” underground obstacles encountered.
The same hindrances have to exist for the laying of the lines. There will be rocks, other power lines, pipes, silt and all kinds of pitfalls to contend with.
Putting up those lights could mean more than a year of misery for the 89A businesses and commuters navigating the construction chaos if such impediments are encountered.
Watching the pre-construction crews spray paint the sidewalks and intersections with bright green, orange, white lines and cryptic symbols, we can see the wave in the horizon.
This city council and the coming city council better prepare to ease the impact on 89A and do everything they can to mitigate the chaos the lights’ construction will bring to the community.
Extra police keeping traffic moving safely at crossings, at affected intersections and at driveways into businesses is a no brainer.
Also, the Chamber of Commerce needs to be ready to counter any negative publicity in the Arizona press reporting bad traffic or congestion conditions in Sedona affecting tourists.
Remember how the Arizona Republic and certain travel guides reported it was a pain trying to get into Sedona because of the S.R. 179 construction project?
The next time a media outlet does that to us, the City and Chamber have to jump down their throats and demand positive press…or just take an ad out in their publication.
The hassles people will encounter trying to shop and dine in West Sedona will drive them to Uptown Sedona. The city has to be ready to handle the extra traffic and ensure parking.
The City must maintain constant vigilance over the project and be ready to direct ADOT to correct any problems uncovered right from jump street, by not allowing construction to continue until they are corrected and then approved by City engineers.
We don’t need a repeat of the Giant fiasco.
Barring a TRO initiated by private citizens postponing the erection of the lights, the city needs to be proactive in this matter and be prepared.
Perhaps we cannot avoid being hit by the construction tsunami heading our way.
But we could at least take the high ground and mitigate its impact.