Allied Gardens Navajo Community Planners, Inc., on January 27 voted unanimously to "support the idea in concept" of the Cliffs mobile home park's proposal for an emergency evacuation easement on land owned by the Allied Gardens Little League.
The league's three ballfields are across from the 262-unit senior mobile-home park on Old Cliffs Road. They're located south of Mission Gorge Road, on a hill that ends in a cul-de-sac. To the right of the top field is the endpoint of the Halifax Street cul-de-sac.
Concern about current traffic and future development on Mission Gorge Road led park residents in 2013 to develop a plan to certify the top field as an emergency evacuation helicopter pad. The plan also creates an easement between Old Cliffs Road and Halifax Street. Easement modifications would include locked fire-service gates and "appropriate coverings" to bridge a drainage ditch so vehicles could cross safely.
The planners' vote followed a discussion of topics, including the lack of cost information and concern that the easement would be converted into a road.
Larry Webb, Cliffs deputy park captain, said work on the plan included a petition of support signed by more than 200 residents, an October 10 presentation to the Little League board, and the distribution of notices about the plan to Halifax Street residents.
"Like fire escapes and life rafts, we hope that we never have to use such an easement to escape, but state law mandates" preparation of the plan, he said.
Pete Famolaro, a Little League coach and former board member, said the plan makes "makes sense in concept." He joked that there shouldn't be a problem with a helicopter landing on the field "unless it was during a game."
"Everyone is looking for something," Famolaro said. There could be a "mutual deal" related to granting access and the payment of funds or construction costs.
When planning group chair Matt Adams asked who would pay for the work, Webb said supporters were "not concerned" about who paid until they knew that there "were no objections from the community." Webb said once the concept was approved, he would take the plan to Seventh District councilman Scott Sherman.
As some planners spoke about the lack of specifics, Webb said, "It's a Catch 22: Which one would we do first, develop a plan or get approval?"
Planner Mike McSweeney moved to approve the plan in concept. "It makes sense. It fulfills a need for their peace of mind," he said.
The first response to his motion came from two Halifax Street residents.
Ken Suffridge said there was no assurance that the easement would not be used as a road.
Becky Suffridge asked, "Does anyone want to look" out the window and "see a fire gate?"
McSweeney referred to a fire gate at the end of Arno Drive. "I think that's what they [Cliff residents] want. They're not asking for a road."
Planner Doug Livingston said he approved the plan in "conceptual form. They need access." He cautioned, "It's going to be engineered to death."