Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Nowakowski gives Phoenix residents chance to voice concerns

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] -- Five central Phoenix historic districts border McDowell Road, and residents of those neighborhoods have told new District 7 City Councilman Michael Nowakowski that improving and revitalizing the thoroughfare is a priority. And Nowakowski is listening. Nowakowski on Saturday morning staged a meet-and-greet at Encanto Park Club House (pictured, Nowakowski on left). "How can we best serve you all?," Nowakowski asked about 40 guests. "How can we bring the District 7 office back to your neighborhoods?" Resident leaders from Willo, Encanto-Palmcroft, Fairview Place, Coronado, Roosevelt, and Los Olivos shared their concerns and praised Nowakowski's goal to give a voice back to the people.

Revitalization results have varied in the downtown area, with some neighborhoods just starting to see success, those in attendance said. Some expressed feeling hampered by gentrification, land speculators, or a city agenda that doesn't take residents' wishes and concerns into consideration. Gerry McCue, of Fairview Place, said a lot of money, time, and effort has been spent on behalf of the residents of the historical districts. McDowell Road, which bounds five historical districts, needs a new vision. "Something could be done to let (residents) use their own street, make it more pedestrian friendly," McCue said. "There's a lot of energy in historic districts to use their streets."

Bob Cannon, president of the Willo Neighborhood Association, agreed. "We're a little jealous of Melrose on Seventh Avenue," Cannon said of the revitalized merchant area between Indian School and Camelback roads. "McDowell Road impacts everyone." Nowakowski, a member of the Neighborhoods, Housing, Historic Preservation, Arts and Culture Subcommittee and Downtown, Economy, and Aviation Subcommittee, said he's committed to listening to residents, developers, and business owners before making decisions. "When a developer comes to the council and says, 'I want to come in and invest in this neighborhood,' it's our responsibility to go to the community and see if this is something they want and need," Nowakowski said. "We want to start that conversation before the investor spends money on fees, consultants and development." Nowakowski said he expects to have a plan for revitalizing McDowell Road from 19th Avenue to Arizona 51 in three or four months. "It's been pretty easy being the councilman, I'm just listening," Nowakowski said. "It's easy to listen because you have the answers."

Your next opportunity to meet Michael and his staff:
- 5th annual Crime Summit, 7:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Valley Garden Center, 1809 N. 15th Ave.
- Community celebration, 1-5:30 p.m. Feb. 9, Bougainvillea Golf Club, 5740 W. Baseline Road.

For more details, call 602-262-7492. [Photo source: Arizona Republic.]