With ballots for Propositions 301, 302 and 303—measures that would allow for the required removal, restoration and development of a new Arizona Coyotes entertainment district—now in the mail, tensions from those who support and oppose the project are at a boiling point.
While Tempe Wins and Tempe 1st had their respective meetings April 13 to reassert their stance on the proposed project, both spent extensive time addressing one point; Sky Harbor.
A few dozen protestors with signs and chants swarmed the entrance of Tempe Chamber of Commerce, where the pro-development Tempe Wins group gathered to hear supporters voice their stance. Coyotes President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez kicked off the meeting by reiterating his pledge that Tempe residents are at no risk for the development; that it only benefits the community. Gutierrez then welcomed NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and former Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.
Bettman stated that the Coyotes, should the propositions pass, will be a permanent addition to Tempe. Hallman made it abundantly clear that all building plans and zoning for the project are within legal limits for Sky Harbor and flight paths, which has become the leading issue Tempe 1st has to oppose the project.
Hallman said he and lawyers representing both sides sat down and made sure all present understood and agreed to the 200-plus-page document addressing the topic. However, Tempe 1st had invited the current chairman of the Tempe Aviation Commission, W. David Doiron to speak. Doiron, with experience as a commercial airline pilot, air traffic controller and Air Force veteran, said that while everything may be perfectly legal, that does not make it the right move. Doiron said “risk” is the key word when accessing this topic. Should the project be carried out with the construction of the area and residential living space, the potential risk of death remains in case of an unexpected incident should occur during takeoff or landing.
He clarified that casualty is inevitable with accidents, but limiting the population in high-risk areas can lower that number should one happen. Hallman responded, claiming that downtown Phoenix has a high population, high buildings and Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, which poses the same risk and concern as that alledged for Tempe. While both sides continue to battle, the continuation of ballot-mailing was due to continue in time for a special election set for May 16.