Update: Town bike, pedestrian routes analysis diverts back to council

Leaders and planners of the Town of Paradise Valley are plugging-away at the bicycle and pedestrian master plan.

In an effort to provide enjoyable bicycle and pedestrian paths for residents, while sufficing the needs of recreational tourists and avid athletes simultaneously, town officials have been immersed in the beginning stages of a master plan.

In August 2016, Paradise Valley Town Council authorized a contract with Coffman Studio at a rate of $143,695.02 for the development of a bicycle and pedestrian master plan.

On June 8, Mayor Michael Collins presented an abridged version of the proposed bicycle and pedestrian master plan devising a new approach to avid cycling within town limits.

Days later on June 22, Paradise Valley Town Council approved its Statement of Direction regarding the plan with a 6-1 vote at its June 22 council meeting, sending the plan to Planning Commission for further evaluation. Paradise Valley Councilman Paul Dembow was the lone dissenter.

Next, Planning Commission is expected to ask town council to amend its Statement of Direction to better reflect proposed deviations to the route map. Planning Commission Chairman Daran Wastchak is expected to present at the Sept. 28 Town Council meeting at Town Hall, 6401 E. Lincoln Drive.

The Planning Commission met on Tuesday, Sept. 5 to review the latest iteration of the bicycle and pedestrian plan.

Their purposes were to identify changes in direction to route maps, review enhanced intersection locations, review their mission statement, goals, policies and timeline, according to Senior Planner Paul Michaud who presented to the group.

Following the Planning Commission’s July and August meetings where changes to the Statement of Direction were discussed, town staff decided it was best for the town council to approve the changes, Mr. Michaud says.

“I think commission generally felt they did not need to go back to council to amend the Statement of Direction, but the town manager felt differently,” Mr. Michaud explained in a Sept. 5 phone interview.

“We’re bringing it back to council for Sept. 28 for them to say ‘hey, this was your direction and planning commission is augmenting that –– making deviations to that –– do you think there are red flags and do we need to do something different?’”

At the June 22 meeting, Town Council outlined several points it wanted the Planning Commission to review in drafting the bicycle and pedestrian master plan.

Those points included:

  • Emphasizing safety and enforcement;
  • Emphasizing the resort loop;
  • A focus on pedestrian facilities;
  • A focus on bicycle facilities;
  • An avoidance of “urban” design elements;
  • An addressing to mitigate conflicts;
  • No new signage;
  • A pairing of this effort with the Visually Significant Corridors Plan;
  • An identification of rough costs and phasing; and
  • A priority of projects identified.

Many councilmembers said they got the impression from those who emailed them and those who spoke at the meeting felt the SOD’s language singled out cyclists.

Minutes from the Planning Commission’s July 25 meeting reflect many of the commissioners expressing disappointment or suggesting recommendations.

Overall the bicycle and pedestrian plans include trails, sidewalks, bike lanes and recreational paths. The Planning Commission is also evaluating enhanced intersections, which Mr. Michaud defined as an intersection that needs an improvement.

It was a full board room at Paradise Valley Town Hall Thursday, June 8 as residents came to learn more about how new bicycle routes will play a role within town limits. (Terrance Thornton/Independent Newsmedia)

“It could be signalized timing, missing a cross walk on one side — some type of improvement to make so it’s safer for bicycles or pedestrians to cross,” Mr. Michaud told the Planning Commission.

There are eight total deviations proposed from the SOD, which includes reconsidering certain routes or utilizing already established bike lanes and paths.

Planning Commissioner Richard Mahrle expressed opposition to staff’s decision to revisit town council for a proverbial head nod.

“I think that position misapprehends the purpose of the Statement Of Direction. It’s like we can’t do something because the town council didn’t say we could do it,” he said. “It’s not their job to tell us what to do at this level. So to the extent that the town manager thinks that, I think the town manager is wrong — I want that reflected in the minutes, please.”

Commissioner Wastchak thanked Mr. Mahrle for his position, but said he’s already talked with the town manager about the issue.

“I appreciate the comments Commissioner Mahrle is making about maybe the lack of necessity for that, but none the less, I’m going to council on the 28th and I’m going to be basically presenting these variations,” Mr. Wastchak said.

“I’ve already presented them to Town Manager Burke and he’s good with it. He completely understands where we’re coming from, so that’s a positive going into that meeting.”

The unique aspect of this Statement of Direction is that it included the proposed route map, Mr. Michaud explained, which normally they do not.

The Planning Commission is also looking at improvements for the Hummingbird Lane Neighborhood to mitigate excessive amounts of cyclists, dangerous conditions and law-breaking reported by neighbors.

“This particular improvement, we know there’s a lot of attention in this neighborhood on trying to do something,” Mr. Michaud explained of the Hummingbird Lane area. “There will be a separate project. The town is trying to go underway now, at the same time this project is going through this plan. Again, nothing’s finalized but everyone should know that we are moving forward with trying to do a project in this neighborhood.”

While looking at the bicycle and pedestrian master plan, town staff is also looking at their annual capital improvement program. The yearly list identifies certain projects that eyed for consideration.

Additional maps have been presented to Planning Commission to reflect the differences in projects identified for the long term master plan, and projects within the same realm identified for the CIP.

News Services Editor Melissa Fittro can be reached by e-mail at mfittro@newszap.com or follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MelissaFittro

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