The Paradise Valley Town Council has begun a conversation on how to best utilize money from the Arizona Lottery Funds for public transportation.
Council has until January 2020 to submit an application to Valley Metro, which is managing the funds overall. This discussion is planned to be ongoing with another discussion slated for the Nov. 21 council meeting.
At the Nov. 7 meeting, council did not make any final decisions but did indicated it wanted to accept the funds. Arizona Lottery Funds are state-shared take-it-or-leave-it revenues set aside only for public transportation.
In the past, the town used the money for Ollie the Trolley: Resort Trolley, which ran a loop from Scottsdale Fashion Square to various town resorts and trailheads during the holiday season.
Council extended this service earlier this year, leading the trolley to run through peak season from February to April. The town discontinued this service after the 2019 season.
For the coming year, Deputy Town Manager Dawn Marie Buckland estimates the town will receive about $38,000 for public transit projects. Overall, Ms. Buckland estimates the town will have $44,424 available for the coming year, which includes carry-over from the previous year.
This estimate factors-in the use of $10,000 for the town’s trip reduction program and $5,000 bus stop maintenance. She did say the bus stop funds were available for other allocation since town staff have concluded the bus stops are in good shape.
Ms. Buckland also recommended any carryover into 2021 should not be over $38,000 since funds are only available for two years after disbursement.
Some of the options the town council has expressed interest in include ride share vouchers; shuttle from bus stops to resorts or places of worship; bus pullouts at bus stops on Tatum Boulevard; land acquisition for sidewalk completion; and shuttle options to alleviate parking issues at trailheads.
Councilmember Paul Dembow said he’s partial to using the money on sidewalks, citing it as fiscally responsible since the town has to pay for the sidewalks otherwise and the money allows the town to use less out-of-pocket.
Councilmember Ellen Andeen said she agreed with Mr. Dembow, but also wanted to learn more about potential bus pullouts at stops. The town has 10 bus stops within its limits and Town Engineer Paul Mood said having pullouts on Tatum Boulevard would make for safer commutes.
“Just given where the bus stops are, I don’t think there’s enough right-of-way or enough land with slopes,” he said. “That’s something we’d have to look at.”
Several other councilmembers expressed interest in bus pullouts and sidewalk construction. Vice Mayor Scott Moore said he thinks both options would be a worthwhile use of the funds, though he was leaning toward sidewalk construction.
“I think when we can do improvements that not only help with circulation of pedestrians and vehicles, but to have permanent solutions that get built and function every day is a great way to have these funds used on,” he said.