Ahwatukee Foothills isn’t its own city and doesn’t have its own government, but it does have the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee, a group of local volunteers who advise City Hall on land use issues.
While many don’t know about the committee, in the past the group has battled to cut the density of developments, stood up against overcrowded schools, written to the governor opposing the route of the South Mountain Loop 202 and twice attempted to pass legislation to make 620 acres of State Trust Land west of 19th Avenue eligible for inclusion into South Mountain Park instead of a site for 1,200 homes.
“We’re known as one of the more activist committees,” said longtime chairman Doug Cole.
But in the past few years, as growth and development issues have faded, the committee has had few big issues to tackle.
Councilman Sal DiCiccio would like to take the committee’s energy and redirect it.
“Our community needs help,” DiCiccio told committee members Monday night during a regularly scheduled Village Planning meeting.
He pointed out how the community is defined by community events, including the Festival of Lights, Fourth of July fireworks and Easter Parade, all of which have had problems raising money and generating volunteers.
“My biggest fear is we lose one of these events,” DiCiccio said.
He called on members of the Village Planning Committee to join with him to help raise money and provide advice and input for community groups.
And it seems to be working.
In less than 60 seconds Monday night, members of the Village Planning Committee stepped up to donate $1,100 to help support the upcoming 34th Annual Easter Parade, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club.
Jerry Youhanaie, Melanie Beauchamp and Chris Gentis all volunteered to chip in personal money to help support the annual event.
And Cole said he would form a subcommittee so that members can volunteer to help other community projects.
Last summer DiCiccio raised money to make sure the fireworks could continue. He also helped, along with Jaime Molera and others, to ensure the Festival of Lights could spring back from a shortage caused by bad weather during the kickoff weekend.
“These events are what makes us special,” DiCiccio said.
Since being elected last fall, DiCiccio has revamped the Ahwatukee Foothills Village Planning Committee, replacing members with those who would be more favorable to the new mission he envisions for the committee.
More than half of the 19 members are newly appointed.