Concerns expressed over feral cats at Desert Breeze Park

Chandler community members and the Neighborhood Advisory Committee came together Tuesday at the Sunset Library to discuss matters and concerns.

Made up of mostly west Chandler residents, the crowd was small but the goal for the evening was achieved in a big way.

Neighborhood Advisory Committee member Bill Donaldson said the meeting was effective. It gave the committee an opportunity hear the community’s concerns and provide them with some feedback.

Early in the meeting, community members broke up into groups of five and came up with questions and concerns to present to the committee.  When finished, a representative from each group spoke and talked about topics the group found to be most important to the Chandler community.

Chandler residents wanted to know what could be done about certain issues in the community such as graffiti, foreclosures, neighborhood cleanliness, break-ins, traffic calming, pedestrian access to shopping, feral cats and weeds.

After the issues were presented, the committee gave feedback and will also look into finding a way to address the concerns.

Greg Pekau, a Neighborhood Advisory Committee member, said the meetings help a great deal. The NAC holds community meetings on the second Tuesday of each month. Meetings rotate monthly between the NAC office and a public building.

“It (provides) incredible insight into the real problem. It allows us who represent our own neighborhoods to have a viewpoint,” Pekau said. “It allows us to work with staff. Mostly the staff is incredible. They do so much to improve the services and the commitment to the citizens of the city. It allows us to get it on the table and move people down the path of resolution.”

The NAC now knows the issues and are taking steps to resolve them, Pekau said.

“It allows us to understand what the issues are. What we’ve learned is a lot of things are just about communication,” he said. “At one of our tables we were talking about that. The more we understand what the issues are, the more we can help point people to do what they can to help resolve the problem.”

Without an avenue for communication, Donaldson said, the NCA would not be able to make as much progress. It would find itself guessing instead of reacting.

“I think otherwise (without hearing the public’s thoughts) we’d be kind of stuck with our grant guidelines and programs, and some of the things we concentrate on specifically,” he said. “So whenever we hear this feedback it gives us points of need and points of other services that are available in the city that people that don’t necessarily know how to get to. I think that helps.”

The community members had an opportunity to share their thoughts and the committee had a chance to learn and get a feel for what Chandler citizens wanted to see done. Donaldson, who is a 21-year Chandler resident, said the meeting was informative on both ends.

“If you’re just a normal Joe you can get pointed in the right direction to the services,” he said.  “And having as many staff members as we have here, they’re either aware of what department handles it or they’ll definitely find out and get back to the person. I think that’s a lot better than ‘Who do I call at City Hall?’”

And, he added:

“That’s why we’re doing it (holding meetings) in different areas. Different areas of the city are different. Some of these neighborhoods are older. Some are newer. Some of them are homeowner associations. Some are traditional neighborhoods. So we tend to get different perspectives.”

The biggest surprise of the night, Donaldson said, was an issue with Desert Breeze Park.

“The feral cats in Desert Breeze Park and all the feces that is in the playground,” he said. “I didn’t know that and my kids had played in that playground for a long time.”

At the end of the night, Donaldson said he believes progress had been made.

“It was great,” he said. “Just a little bit smaller than I would like to see. I’d like to see more people come out. It was a relatively small crowd, but I like the idea that they were trying to do outreach.”

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