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Armed with more than 1,000 signatures, the business people, residents and visitors in the Village of Oak Creek want the attention of Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Their cry for help is angry.

By Mike Cosentino
Larson Newspapers
________________

Armed with more than 1,000 signatures, the business people, residents and visitors in the Village of Oak Creek want the attention of Gov. Janet Napolitano.

Their cry for help is angry.

“This originally began as a three-year project, and now, in eight months, not an intersection, not one foot of highway has been completed. Please help us,” read a petition found at several businesses at the Oak Creek Factory Outlets, in the Village of Oak Creek, regarding the Arizona Department of Transportation’s construction on Hwy. 179.

Frustrated area residents and business owners held a meeting Tuesday morning, July 17, at Kitchen Konnection, a business in the outlet mall.

Owners Wayne and Sue Gosser have been leaders in organizing complaints to ADOT.

They discussed how to get the petitions they have had available at their businesses and throughout the Village of Oak Creek to the governor and their local political representatives.

They are asking the leaders of the state to step in and make some changes.

Resident Susan Gordon said that, as a result of publicity, things did seem “tidier” and maybe safer than before.

But she too is hoping for a “groundswell of activity that will change the way the construction project is being run.”

Wayne Gosser read from the petition to “say it all.”

“Sadly, we find ourselves living/visiting in what has become a third-world country,” the petition stated. “All scheduling and promises made have been ignored or broken. This ‘construction’ goes on with little progress apparent.”

The culprits are ADOT and its contractor, Southwest Asphalt Paving, of Tempe.

Rumors at the meeting that further angered the group were that Southwest Asphalt Paving has asked for an extension for the VOC part of the project until May 2008.

The ADOT roads information telephone recording line, 5-1-1, says that Hwy. 179 construction will continue until May 2008.

Pat Cusey, senior resident engineer for ADOT on the Hwy. 179 project, did not return phone calls as of press time.

Business owners were concerned that promises made as recently as the July 5 monthly meeting at the Bell Rock Plaza in the VOC with Cusey have not been kept.


Business hurting

Sam Tardio, of Casa De Sedona, said business is down 45 to 55 percent each month.

“Some people have their life savings in these businesses. We are all hurting,” he said.

About half of the 37 stores at Oak Creek Factory Outlets are independently owned.

Tardio and others have said that the major corporate-owned stores are more capable of absorbing the losses the construction has caused.

Gosser emphasized that with the ideas of Dee Ann Vyne, of Cody’s Pet Emporium, and others, they are not just complaining but looking for ways to help themselves.

Half the meeting was dedicated to that topic.

Look for Christmas in July sales, back-to-school raffles and chances for $1,000 shopping sprees to come soon, Gosser said.


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