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Tue, Oct. 15

Growth an issue in coming city elections

In the May 16 city general election , Kingman voters will choose two members for the council from the four candidates remaining in the race.

The candidates are incumbents Paul McCormick and Jerry Hawkins, appointed to complete most of a four year term, and challengers Frank McVey and Monica Gates.

This is the second in the series of articles about the candidate's positions on issues that are considered important to voters and the future of Kingman.

The first interview with candidates was about growth because Kingman is projected to double in population in the next 10 to 20 years.

The city is expected to grow from 20,000 residents to 40,000 and the Kingman area grow to 100,000 in the next 10 to 20 years, according to census projections.

Growth has already caused some concern about streets and traffic.

The proposed roundabout at Stockton Hill Road and Beverly Avenue has generated much discussion, if the volume of letters to the editor are any measure.

All four candidates recognize the need for development of several transportation corridors to keep ahead of growth and traffic.

Traffic congestion appears to be one of the first results of growth, judging by what is happening along Stockton Hill Road.

Stockton Hill Road, Banks Street and the Harrison Street/Willow Road route were mentioned by each of the four candidates as essential north/south corridors in the Hilltop area.

Developing alternative north and south routes to take traffic off Stockton Hill Road is every candidates first priority.

The methods differ.

McVey is the primary supporter of finding a way to extend the Harrison Street corridor across Airway Avenue along Willow to Gordon Avenue.

Gates said the Harrison/Willow corridor deserves another look, but is concerned about the residential areas that would be in the corridor.

With both sides of Bank Street now a part of the city after annexation of Shangri-La, each candidate named it as a high priority for street work.

Getting the needed right-of-way and enginneering done ahead of development of the area is part of being ahead of the development curve, according to each of the four candidates.

None of the candidates were supportive of an underpass at Interstate 40 on Western Avenue because it has no place to go south except through a residential area.

The underpass was mentioned as a "lost opportunity" that is past its useful time and a lesson for the future.

"We have to learn from the past as we plan for the future," Gates said.

One new transportation corridor in the future is planned according to McCormick.

He said the dedication of a county/city route from Route 66 from the airport to Jagerson Avenue is an important east/west addition and the first new route in several years.

Access to the residential developments to the east and the east bench across the tracks is a common concern.

McCormick would extend Railroad north for immediate help.

All want to relieve traffic on Louise Avenue.

The current council, with the support of McCormick and Hawkins, has opened several streets from Louise Avenue to Hualapai Mountain Road beginning at Railroad Avenue and east to Seneca Street.

The extension of Airway Avenue across Andy Devine Avenue under the tracks is supported by all candidates with different time lines.

Gates sees the Airway Extension as a need that should be considered in an overall look at transportation corridors in the city.

"It could foster residential development east and commercial development along Andy Devine," she said.

"We must learn from the traffic congestion on Stockton Hill Road."

Hawkins wants to continue the design study on Airway but is not yet sure of the timeline for construction.

He would take a good look at all the needs and the available funds to evaluate the order of construction.

McCormick is ready to push through the Airway Extension because it would relieve Louise Avenue and open the area east between the airport and the north side of I-40 to development.

McVey supports the extension because building is easier to the east with more soil and fewer rock and it would "fix the Louise Avenue problem."

Infill development carries support of each candidate with some difference in priority and definition.

McVey said he sees problems with infill along the Mohave Wash with drainage problems and the "old sewer ponds." He said problems with rock would slow development to the west with the cost of sewer and water line construction through solid rock.

The other candidates would encourage more infill all over the city, especially from Andy Devine Avenue across Stockton Hill Road to Western Avenue into the mountain foothills.

Hawkins said he wants more infill and is cautious about growth even though building houses is a key to his income.

Gates would like to find ways to provide incentives to developers for more infill.

McCormick said developers make most of the decisions and the council has limited control.

Another option to take vehicles off the streets is public transportation that would give residents another way to get about the city.

Public transportation is an issue where candidates have major differences.

"It is one of my issues," said McCormick.

I want to look at innovative ways other places have used.

He said Mesa and the Pinetop areas have been creative and successful and he wants to see how they, and others have made public transportation work.

McVey said the downtown citizens did not see public transportation as a real need and he did not propose any public transportation for the near future.

Gates would consider public transportation as part of the cluster of concerns and issues coming with growth and as something that needs to be part of a vision for the future of Kingman.

"I have been here 17 years and see the same growth problems and the need for the council get ahead of the curve and look ahead 20 years," she said.

Public transportation is part of the traffic corridor solution but must be treated with caution Hawkins said.

Who pays for transportation needs caused by growth ..

is a question which candidates differ widely when answering.

McCormick said he does not favor any property tax or impact fees for developers to fund traffic projects or relieve congestion.

Hawkins said losing the property tax may have been a mistake.

He thinks developers should continue to pay for some street and sidewalk costs.

The council can do some things, but not a lot, to encourage business to locate where they will cause less traffic congestion, he said.

"Wal-Mart paid for the signal on Stockton Hill Road," McVey said.

He would support impact fees and improvement districts to improve access.

He also pointed to the small lots from previous development years ago and said we have to work with what is existing.

Gates wants to take a careful look and find ways to make a difference about where growth occurs with the council taking a more proactive role.

"We need to ask the questions up front for each development, commercial or residential," she said.

"If not, things left undone become the cities problem to be solved later."

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