Even with a cemetery sale being a somewhat cryptic last-minute scratch, Glendale City Council was fairly busy on Sept. 24. Council approved a small development project and authorized spending nearly $500,000 on signs and parks maintenance.
What was expected by some to be the star of the show disappeared.
The agenda originally featured an ordinance “authorizing the sale of land known as the Glendale Memorial Park Cemetery by the city.”
Several people who had signed up to comment on the issue were informed by Mayor Jerry Weiers that the issue had been taken off the agenda. No reason was provided for its removal, at the meeting.
As reported earlier in the Glendale Star, Glendale Assistant City Manager Chris Anaradian stated the city loses nearly $100,000 per year maintaining the burial ground.
Following advice to sell (rather than pour money into it), the city reached an agreement with John Hassett, an experienced cemetery owner.
Hassett was to pay $100,000 to the city, which will then transfer $3.8 million to an irrevocable endowment trust, set aside to fund the perpetual care of the historic site.
Reached by the Star after the meeting, Anaradian solved the mystery of the pulled agenda item.
“The contract is not ready for council review,” Anaradian said. “We’re still negotiating the purchase and sale agreement. It didn’t get the legal review that was needed. We’re a week or two away from having it completed.”
As the sale to Hassett is not final, the cemetery is still for sale.
But, as someone at the council meeting perhaps facetiously suggested, merely offering $101,000 won’t do.
“A couple issues come to the forefront. We want to know are (potential buyers) licensed to operate a cemetery in the state of Arizona?” Anaradian said.
“Our review is (Hassett) is licensed, he doesn’t have any violations. His family has been in the business for years, he’s grown up in the industry.”
Any rumors that a buyer could relocate the bodies and develop the land are false, Anaradian said.
“The cemetery’s not moving and there’s not an alternative use,” he said.
“The perpetual care of the facility is paramount.”
He said he expected the sales agreement to be ready for council review within the next month.
Other items from the Sept. 24 council agenda were addressed, including a small development located on a portion of the former Honeywell campus.
Owners Burch & Cracchiolo had asked the city to rezone an 8-acre property located at the southwest corner of Bell Road and 53rd Avenue. The request would change the zoning from B-P (Business Park) to PAD (Planned Area Development).
The zoning change would allow the owners to create a mix including a residential building, retail, auto body repair and a storage facility.
Brian Younger spoke up to “respectfully oppose” the rezoning. Younger is chief financial officer of Developmental Enrichment Center, which serves 80 special needs children and adults.
He said his agency concerns that increased traffic would disturb his special needs clients.
Ed Bull, representing the landowners, countered that “we’ve worked very hard with neighbors who have had concerns.”
He said he did not believe any of the developments would disturb the neighborhood.
Council agreed with Bull, unanimously approving the rezoning request.
You might expect a tree-trimming contract to also sail through, but such was not the case.
City staff presented a five-year contract at $158,600 per year with West Coast Arborist “for tree pruning, for assessment, pruning and/or removal, and GPS inventory identification of trees located in Glendale parks, retention basins, and trails.”
Councilmember Lauren Tolmachoff raised an objection, pointing out that council had approved more than $400,000 in parks-related funds in August.
“We’ve got a lot of contracts going on in parks,” she said.
“It seems like we’ve got a lot of contracts and consultants and we’re not getting anywhere.”
Though Tolmachoff and Joyce Clark voted against the contract, the other five council voters approved, so the park trees will be counted, tracked and pruned.
Council unanimously approved a contract for $137,500 to Athaco/Main Street Signs “for various traffic signs and markings hardware and material.”
Also approved was a five-year, $250,000 agreement with CR Engineers, Inc. for park lighting and other projects.
Sierra Transportation and Technologies were granted a four-year, $625,000 contract for traffic engineering including vehicle detection and networking devices.
Glendale City Council also voted to formally approve the following grants from the Office of Highway Safety:
• $43,843 for DUI enforcement.
• $27,785 for occupant protection enforcement.
• $25,000 for the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP).
• $19,325 for accident investigation.
• $30,000 for the Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Enforcement Project.
Council also approved an intergovernmental agreement with the Arizona Department of Transportation for aesthetic enhancements” to the Grand Avenue Overpass Project at 43rd Avenue and Camelback Road.
On the ceremonial side, Lifeline EMS presented a Gold Plus Recognition Award to Glendale Fire-Medical Services, for the department’s life-saving work.
And Weiers dubbed October “Fire Prevention Month.”
“Be proactive: set up your escape plan, check your smoke detectors and make your family safe,” urged Eric Keppler, Deputy Chief, Glendale Fire Medical Services.
“We do not want to have to come to your house.”