BY MIKE CHUTZ | MAY 2, 2012
The foundation for the preservation of Cave Creek
Don Sorchych’s comments appear in this week’s My View:
Two recent events bring into focus the need for excellence in government in Cave Creek. The proposed Enchanted Canyon resort was completely counter to the General Plan. Had the developer been told more forcefully from the beginning that it would receive zero support from the town leadership thousands of man-hours on the part of opposition groups could have been avoided. Similarly, citizens are now asked to vote on a real estate tax although they do not understand how the money will be used or how the deal will work.
There is a sense of mistrust on the part of the citizens. Elected and appointed officials feel as though they are at odds with the community.
Cave Creek is a unique gem of a town. There is nothing quite like it in America. It is a place where horsemen and artists and cowboys and bikers all co-exist. Our town is filled with funky shops, cool restaurants and music filled honky tonks and cafes. Families and retirees bring a unique set of talents and interests to the town. One need look no further than the Fiesta Days Parade – at both the participants and the audience – to know that Cave Creek is a wonderfully quirky and interesting town. All of this is set against a backdrop of breath-taking mountains and deserts and underneath amazingly clear skies. It is no wonder that Cave Creek is a must see destination for visitors to Phoenix and Scottsdale as well as an annual pilgrimage for people from all over the U.S.
Cave Creek will face intense pressure in the coming decade. There are acres and acres of land owned by investors who bought at the peak and are now unable to recover their investment. As the economy improves money will loosen up and pressure to monetize that land will mount. Million dollar five-acre lots are a thing of the past. Developers will want to carve up the land into smaller parcels. These developers will hire the most sophisticated lawyers, engineers, planners and public relations people that money can buy. The tidal wave of development that was temporarily stopped by the crash will resume its relentless path up the valley. Our little town and its elected and appointed officials will always be over matched. The need for additional revenue to service our extremely high debt will add to the pressure. The little gem that is Cave Creek will be in jeopardy of becoming just another town of fifty thousand souls inhabiting a valley full of roof tops on one-acre parcels and serviced by big box stores, fast food joints and national chains. In fifteen years Cave Creek as we know it could cease to exist.
Our only hope is to assure that citizens and government work together to run our town in a transparent and efficient manner. Decisions must be made on facts after all sides of the issues are researched. Debate must be had and compromises be made, but must be based on reason, not on innuendo, personal attacks or half-truths. Public dialogue must rise above the level of political signs posted on the side of the road.
A group of citizens are proposing the formation of a Foundation for the Preservation of Cave Creek. This foundation would be a non-profit organization dedicated to the establishment of best practices in all aspects of our government. Let’s make sure that our laws and regulations are as good as possible. Let’s make sure that our financial management is accurate, timely and transparent. Let’s manage our planning and zoning in a world class manner.
Other towns throughout the U.S. have faced similar pressures. Let’s find out what they do right and wrong. There are academics and non-profits that specialize in studying our problems. Let’s engage them. The Foundation would be made up of talented citizens who could research important issues involving basic services, development or governance and think about the pros and cons of all possible solutions. It could work closely with the town fathers.
Let’s act rather than react. Let’s replace anger with a shared passion for all that is good in Cave Creek.
We are all stewards of Cave Creek. We owe it to the town, to each other and to posterity to help Cave Creek to be the best it can be by using the talents of the people who live here to anticipate and address the coming pressures so that we can preserve the best that is Cave Creek.