Guest Column: Mayor, manager winging it on Kingman Crossing

I'm perplexed as to who or what could be developed in Kingman Crossing and why the city of Kingman staff is such a relentless proponent of the project.

In researching this issue, I made a Freedom of Information Act request for any emails from December to March between Mayor Richard Anderson and City Manager John Dougherty.

I discovered the following:

1. There are no interested parties in Kingman Crossing. In the emails, there was not a single email or mention of a developer or speculative investor interested in the project.

2. There is no way to get to Kingman Crossing from the south without driving through residential neighborhoods. There is no defined plan to get from Hualapai Mountain Road to Kingman Crossing. There is no plan on which houses will be condemned to widen Sage, Central or any other potential street. Let's identify this five-lane arterial required for the large retail complex, I-40 interchange or underpass proposed at Kingman Crossing.

3. There is no funding method for the purported $40 million-plus I-40 interchange that would be required.

What I found in several hundred emails and other research is a city staff and mayor who are excited about the notion of Kingman Crossing. I fear they are seeking ways around the will of the public and past votes on the property when nothing has changed.

The following emails detail where the Miner came up with potential anchor tenants:

On Jan. 30, Mayor Anderson wrote the following email, titled "Kohl's Costco": Jon, Anyone know where Doug got the Kohl's Costco hashtag? I am assuming that Doug made those up as a for instance.

On Jan. 30, Dougherty replied: They were names I tossed out as potential retailers. Target came to mind but they are having financial difficulties and not likely to be looking to expand. I tried to avoid the Olive Garden/Red Lobster options (because it isn't).

Why is the city manager making up potential tenants? Also in the stacks of emails, the city manager routinely encourages those in favor of Kingman Crossing to contact the paper and express their support for the project.

There is empirical evidence that areas nationwide with less government are doing better. Look at case studies of Texas vs. California. Check out "How Money Walks" to see how people are moving to areas of lower taxes and less regulation. Kingman's present leadership is headed in the wrong direction.

Ever consider driving to Vegas, Bullhead or Havasu to buy a car to save money on the sales tax? Many people do. That is why Kingman needs to be competitive. Retirees research property and sales taxes before relocating. We should be privatizing city functions, making budgets smaller and becoming friendly to business instead of the opposite.

The current government model being pushed by Anderson, Dougherty and Development Services Gary Jeppson is antiquated and no longer sustainable. Look at the bankrupt cities of Detroit, unfunded pensions in Chicago and disasters in Bell, Calif. The city of Kingman needs to move toward smaller government, lower taxes and fewer employees. Part of the reason the state of Arizona keeps robbing city funds is to pay for the retirement system that our city employees are part of. While it's nice to have a big city staff, we simply can't afford it any longer.

With the upcoming public hearings on April 28, I hope you ask the city why this wasn't this spelled out in the general plan, and how does traffic get from Hualapai Mountain Road to Kingman Crossing? Why should we change the designation now when no one wants it?

The city has been saying that the citizens will get a vote on the future of Kingman Crossing, but that may not be what they actually have in mind as the following memorandum from Jeppson to Dougherty dated Oct. 8 states:

"Arizona Revised Statutes 9-403 requires a special election to allow the voters of the city to decide whether or not to authorize the sale of any real property valued at over $500,000. The 168 acres will need to be subdivided in order to dedicate the right-of-way for Kingman Crossing Boulevard south of the interchange to Airfield Ave. Development of the property in the area may not take place on the entire 168 acres at one time and the city may need to divide the property into smaller lots separately. Perhaps the individual lots will not be valued greater than $500,000, which if it is the case, a special election is not necessary."

In closing, please keep in mind that you have a say in Kingman Crossing. It's my opinion that it's a bad idea and we can better spend $250,000 of taxpayer money paving dirt roads in Kingman as opposed to a study of Kingman Crossing or related underpasses. The city's development track record is dismal (Airway underpass comes to mind). Let's have the market decide what is best for Kingman Crossing and push the city to be leaner and friendlier so we can all be more prosperous.

Note: In a story published Jan. 28, City Manager John Dougherty said this in response to a question about breaking the acreage into smaller parcels so that a sale wouldn't require a vote: "I don't want to do that. Nobody wants to do that. We want everybody to have their say."