My wife and I have lived in the Lakewood community in Ahwatukee for 18 1/2 years. When we moved here in 1995 we still had an 8-year-old daughter living with us. She entered third grade at Kyrene de los Lagos, completing fourth and fifth grades there. She went through sixth, seventh and eighth grades at Akimel and graduated from Desert Vista in 2004.
We feel, first of all, blessed to have had her go through school in these districts and, secondly, that it is a credit to the current and all past board members of both districts (Kyrene and Tempe Union) that these and the other district schools are such a strong pillar in what has made Ahwatukee a community of choice for so many thousands of families and the local businesses they support.
The Kyrene School District Governing Board’s Vision and Mission statements are clearly focused on the welfare of “students, staff, families and citizens.” Thus, it was wholly consistent with those statements that they seriously examined the potential impact of the proposed Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway on their ability to carry out that board’s stated Mission in pursuit of its Vision and recently adopted a resolution opposing the Pecos Road alignment of the South Mountain Freeway.
Like many (I assume) my wife and I were made aware of the possibility of this freeway when we settled into Ahwatukee and I admit we saw it as, at best, only a remote likelihood and later, at worst, a Loop 101-type roadway such as passes between Chandler and north Scottsdale or a continuation of the Loop 202 San Tan Freeway — somewhat intrusive, but ultimately well-engineered and executed, quite convenient, and good for local commerce. So it was tempting to see the concerns publicly expressed by the founders and members of PARC (Protecting Arizona’s Resources and Children) as overly-alarmist, like Chicken Little proclaiming “The Sky is Falling!”
If only reality conformed to that naïve interpretation. But reality is seldom as we would wish things to be or, often, even as things appear to be. I came face-to-face with this recently when I attended a PARC information meeting in late August in which the facts were laid out for all to grasp — and I left that meeting enraged and apprehensive, but energized as well. That’s why I’ve contributed to and actively support PARC.
I realized that I cannot be “neutral” in this case since, unlike the Loops 101 and 202 examples I just cited, there are no counterbalancing benefits from the South Mountain Freeway as proposed and so misleadingly promoted by the Arizona Department of Transportation. There are no pros for us who live here — there are only cons.
The facts standing against this project are voluminous and well beyond the space available to present them here. Thus, I urge all citizens with any kind of stake in Ahwatukee, be it a home, a child in one of the fine local schools, or a business, to take the time, just as the Kyrene school board did, to examine the harsh realities that this destructive truck bypass poses to your community and to take a firm stand in favor of the only acceptable outcome for the proposed Pecos Road alignment of the South Mountain Freeway — No Build.
Go to ProtectAzChildren.org and support this unique and special community.
• William M. Diekmann has lived in the Lakewood community of Ahwatukee since 1995.