Gilbert Edition - November 2020

GILBERT EDITION

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 3  NOV. 18DEC. 21, 2020

ONLINE AT

Gilbert Regional Park’s Phase 1B is now fully open as of Oct. 15 after some sports courts opened in July. Here is a look at what the new phase brings.

IMPACTS

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E. QUEEN CREEK RD.

10 acre lawn 7 acre lake

20 acres in Phase 1B 272 acres in

$18.2M cost 30 sports courts

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whole park SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

A new amphitheater and large event lawn overlook the lake at Gilbert Regional Park. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Town planning for future phases at Gilbert Regional Park

TRANSPORTATION

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BY TOM BLODGETT

playgrounds, to the younger interest,” Parks and Recreation Director Robert Carmona said. “Phase 1B really brings in all ages, the teen, adults and senior crowds.” But that is just the start for the town. Gilbert sta have started a campaign to collect feedback from residents on what they want next at Gilbert Regional Park as well as at the tness-themed Desert Sky Park that opened in November 2019 at a cost of $19.6 million. CONTINUED ON 12

Gilbert voters elect Peterson as newmayor

With the opening of Phase 1B of Gilbert Regional Park in October, the town has now spent more than $32.6 million since September 2018 to oer more amenities at the park and tap its potential for residents and tourists, ocials said. The park now includes athletic courts, a walking path, a lake, an amphitheater and a large event lawn at a cost of $18.2 million for this phase, ocials said. “Phase 1 was generally geared, with a splash pad and

TOWN& EDUCATION

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Help available to residents as Gilbert turns toward normal utility operations

Town sta presented to Gilbert Town Council a phased-in plan to return to normal utilities operations in January. Late fees resume. Flexibility provided in repayment plans. NOV. JAN. Normal operations return. Disconnections possible. SERVICE BILLS DUE

BY TOM BLODGETT

Gilbert provides water, wastewater and environmental services—trash pickup and recycling—for its residents. The number of accounts eligible for disconnection has risen as much as 415% over its monthly average in the year before the coronavirus’s arrival. “It can be hard and overwhelming in a time where people are overwhelmed enough as it is,” local nonprot AZCEND CEO Trinity Donovan said. “But to relieve that burden is an

The town of Gilbert plans to resume normal operations in its utility depart- ment in January and is moving toward that goal. That means residents need to be pre- pared to catch up on their accounts or face the possibility of disconnection, which the town stopped doing after March 10 because of the coronavirus pandemic that at one point spiked the unemployment rate in town to as high as 11.4%.

NICO’S BARBER SHOP

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88,800 accounts

1,428 eligible for disconnection

SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER $356,221 owed to town

NUMBERS AS OF NOV. 9

CONTINUED ON 15

SIMI’S CAFÉ

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

THIS ISSUE

CONTENTS

HIGHLIGHTS FROMTHISMONTH

MARKET TEAM EDITOR Tom Blodgett GRAPHIC DESIGNER Isabella Short ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE Michelle Gavagan

FROMAMY: Given our area’s perfect weather much of the year and our residents’ active nature, parks are a popular destination. As a result, Gilbert has continued to invest in parks and the amenities they provide. Our front-page story dives into the recent opening of new features at Gilbert Regional Park and future park plans.

METRO LEADERSHIP PUBLISHER Amy Ellsworth,

aellsworth@communityimpact.com MANAGING EDITOR Matt Stephens ART PRODUCTIONMANAGER Aubrey Galloway CORPORATE LEADERSHIP PUBLISHERS AND FOUNDERS John and Jennifer Garrett GROUP PUBLISHER Traci Rodriguez EXECUTIVE EDITOR Joe Warner CREATIVE DIRECTOR Derek Sullivan SALES DIRECTOR Tess Coverman WHOWE ARE

Amy Ellsworth, PUBLISHER

IMPACTS

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Now Open, Coming Soon &more

FROMTOM: Foreseeing residents’ coming pain from the coronavirus pandemic and the eects it would have on employment, the town stopped charging late payments and shutting o town utilities in March. Our front-page story looks at how this has aected the town, its residents and how those residents can get help now that the bill is coming due. Tom Blodgett, EDITOR

TODO LIST

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Local events and things to do TRANSPORTATION Local road projects TOWN& EDUCATION

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Gilbert and local school district news

John and Jennifer Garrett began Community Impact Newspaper in 2005 in Pugerville, Texas. The company’s mission is to build informed citizens and thriving businesses through the collaboration of a passionate team. Today we operate across ve metropolitan areas providing hyperlocal, nonpartisan news produced by our full-time journalists in each community we serve. BECOMEA#COMMUNITYPATRON

THIS ISSUE BY THE NUMBERS

New businesses 8

Road projects 3

$18M In business relief programs

New mayor 1

Please join your friends and neighbors in support of Community Impact Newspaper’s legacy of local, reliable reporting by making

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Visit our website for free access to the latest news, photos and infographics about your community and nearby cities. communityimpact.com LIVE UPDATES

BUSINESS FEATURE

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Nico’s Barber Shop

a contribution. Together, we can continue to ensure citizens stay informed and keep businesses thriving. COMMUNITYIMPACT.COMPATRON CONTACT US 610 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 205, Gilbert, AZ 85234 • 4804824880 PRESS RELEASES gilnews@communityimpact.com SUBSCRIPTIONS communityimpact.com/subscriptions © 2020 Community Impact Newspaper Co. All Rights Reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher.

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DINING FEATURE

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Simi’s Cafe REAL ESTATE

16

October residential real estate data IMPACT DEALS

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GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

IMPACTS

Businesses that have recently opened or are coming soon, relocating or expanding

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Pelirrojo Bakery

Pedego Bikes

E. WARNER RD.

PHOTOS BY TOM BLODGETTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

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Kirk D. Minkus, MD. Dr. Minkus has over 16 years of collective interventional radiology practice and training, and has performed over 40,000 procedures. Call Today! (480) 945-4343 12 Jamie Ashton acquired property Oct. 9 from RRS & Company for a pro- posed McDonald’s at 145 S. Higley Road, Gilbert. The price was $2.2 million for the 1.05-acre lot, according to data website www.vizzda.com. No opening date has been announced. 11 LifeQuest Physical Medicine and Rehab is set to open an oce Nov. 30 at 4049 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert. It will be an integrated medical oce oering medical, chiropractic, massage, and physical rehabilitation services. 480-597-9497. https://lifequestarizona.com COMING SOON 9 A new ice cream shop, Cream of the Crop , is expected to open in Barnone maker’s space at 3000 E. Ray Road, Bldg. 6, Gilbert, in the Agritopia neighbor- hood. The shop will serve homemade ice cream with seasonal avors. It is anticipated to open in early winter 2020. www.facebook.com/pages/category/ ice-cream-Shop/Cream-of-the-Crop- AZ-113292273785496/ 10 Eegee’s announced Oct. 16 it will not only open a location at 3535 E. Baseline Road, Gilbert, but will also have a second Gilbert location in the SanTan Village area. Chief Marketing Ocer Paul Hemingway said the rst location, taking over an Arby’s, will open in April, while the exact location and opening for the second store is to be decided. The Tuc- son-based chain of submarine sandwich shops known for its frozen fruit drink, called an Eegee, also announced three other locations coming to the Phoenix area. https://eegees.com

4 Irving’s Barbershop opened Sept. 7 at 2401 E. Baseline Road, Ste. 99, Gilbert. The shop oers classic and modern haircuts, including scissor trims, head shaving, beard and goatee trims, and kids’ haircuts. 602-475-6887. www.facebook. com/irvingsbarbershopgilbertaz 5 Lutz Get Healthy opened its family medicine practice Nov. 2 at 3530 S. Val Vista Drive, Ste. A111, Ste. 5, Gilbert. Its services include general family medicine, well-woman visits, sports and school physicals, well-child checkups, IV infusions, B12 injections, trigger point injections for pain and joint injections. 480-980-9582. www.lutzgethealthy.com 6 Event venue Shenandoah Mill started a new business, Meander Gatherings , on Nov. 1 for people who want a pop-up, elopement-style wedding. It operates from a vintage metro van stationed at 1359 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. It oers 30-, 60- and 90-minute options for interested couples. 480-216-2299. www.meandergatherings.com 7 Dance studio Motivating Movement Creative Space opened Aug. 17 at 1451 E. Williams Field Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert. The studio works with all skill levels, from those seeking a recreational experience to those who have profes- sional goals. 480-276-5717. www.motivatingmovementcs.com 8 Shalyn Smith opened Specialized Music Therapy on Aug. 31 at 217 N. Gil- bert Road, Ste. 202, Gilbert. She practic- es music therapy with patients, primarily children, with disabilities. 480-518-4381. www.specializedmusictherapy.com

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MAP NOT TO SCALE N TM; © 2020 COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER CO. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

HUNT HWY.

E. HUNT HWY.

NOWOPEN 1 Doves at Home Senior Care opened its Gilbert oce at 105 N. Pasadena St., Gilbert, on Nov. 1. It oers in-home medical, non-medical and hospice care and medical equipment for senior pa- tients. It also has an oce in Mesa. 480-268-2685. www.dovescare.com 2 Pedego Bikes opened Oct. 2 at 459 N. Gilbert Road, Unit 1, Gilbert. The store rents and sells electric bikes.

480-793-1175. www.pedegoelectricbikes. com/dealers/gilbert 3 Pelirrojo Bakery opened a location inside Lena’s Events and Rentals at 522 N. Gilbert Road, Ste. 102, Gilbert. The bakery also oers homemade cookies and pastries to order for pickup from a home in Gilbert or delivery to Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Queen Creek. 831-264-7656 (text only). https://pelirrojobakery.wixsite.com/ pbcookies

EXPERIENCING LEG OR FOOT PAIN? Do you or a loved one have any 3-4 of these risk factors and symptoms? (Peripheral Arterial Disease)

PAD RISK FACTORS

PAD LEGS

Diabetics 50+ years of age - require Arterial Duplex Ultrasound Screenings

• Tingling? • Weak Foot Pulses (PT/DP)? • Leg Pain while walking? • Lack of hair on leg/ foot?

• Sores on legs or feet? • Leg Fatigue/ heaviness/cramping • Discoloration/Pale or Blue toes/feet/legs? • Cold legs/feet?

• High Cholesterol • Chronic Kidney Disease • Previous Stroke • Previous Heart Attack • Coronary Stents

Indications: • 50 years old or older • Previous/Current Smoker • Diabetic • High Blood Pressure

TWO CONVENIENT LOCATIONS GILBERT (Next to Mercy Gilbert Hospital) 3420 S Mercy Rd., Ste# 300 MESA (Just North of Banner Baywood Hospital) 140 S Power Rd., Ste# 102

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TODO LIST

November-December events

COMPILED BY TOM BLODGETT

NOVEMBER 27 THROUGHDEC. 26 ‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’ Hale Centre Theatre celebrates its 18th year of bringing Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” to its stage. COVID-19 restrictions include limiting seating capacity to under 38%. Every other row will be left empty, and two seats will be left empty between each party attending a performance. Mon.-Sat. Times vary by day throughout the production run. $30-$50. Hale Centre Theatre, 50 W. Page Ave., Gilbert. 480- 497-1181. www.haletheatrearizona.com DECEMBER 05 PHOTOSWITH SANTA CLAUS Children will have a photo opportunity with Santa Claus on his fourth annual visit to HD South. Children will be able to see Santa in his chair from behind a holiday-themed railing. They will also be able to stand in front of the railing and have their picture taken with Santa in the background. Children are encouraged to bring their letter to Santa for the elves to pass along to St. Nick. With paid event admission, every child will receive a special goodie bag

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DEC. 1120

RIPARIANAFTER DARK RIPARIAN PRESERVE

Motivating Movement

The Porch—A Neighborhood Joint

stued with toys and prizes. Registration required. 8:30-11:30 a.m. Free (adults, children under 2); $10 (rst child over 2), $5 (each additional child, up to 4). HD South, 10 S. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. 480-926-1577. https://hdsouth.org The Riparian Preserve will be decorated with thousands of holiday lights for the annual Riparian After Dark event. Tickets will be required and are sold in 15-minute increments as a mitigation strategy against the eects of the coronavirus pandemic. 5:30-9 p.m. $2. Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch, 2757 E. Guadalupe Road, Gilbert. 480-503-6200. www.gilbertaz.gov

13 The Porch—A Neighborhood Joint will open in the Heritage District at 312 N. Gilbert Road, Gilbert. The restaurant and bar also has locations in Arcadia and Tempe and serves appetizers, tacos, bowls, burgers, salads, sweets and drinks. The company has not announced 14 Smile Loft Dentistry anticipates opening Nov. 18 at 652 E. Warner Road, Ste. 101, Gilbert. The practice centers on general dentistry. 480-581-8020. www.smileloftaz.com NAME CHANGES an opening date in Gilbert. www.porchrestaurants.com 15 Sonoran Valley Home Care , formerly Nurse Next Door, opened under its new name Aug. 18 at 3530 S. Val Vista Drive,

Ste. 102, Gilbert. The company oers companionship, personal care, meal preparation, homemaking, transporta- tion, Alzheimer’s and dementia support, and respite care for seniors, people with disabilities and children. 480-569-2575. https://sonoranvalleyhomecare.com NEWOWNERSHIP 16 Desert Fitness underwent a merger and reopened Sept. 1 as Fitness 1440 at 4658 S. Higley Road, Gilbert. The gym includes personal training, group tness classes and training, cardio equipment, a functional turf area, outdoor training, towel service and 24-hour access. It also has a Sweat Angel program to give mon- ey to a local charity for every Facebook check-in. 480-422-7320. www.tness1440.com

Find more or submit Gilbert events at communityimpact.com/event-calendar. Event organizers can submit local events online to be considered for the print edition. Submitting details for consideration does not guarantee publication.

480-581-8298

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GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

TRANSPORTATIONUPDATES

COMPILED BY TOM BLODGETT

Timeline: November-January Cost: $2.24 million Funding source: town water funds 2 Germann Road upgrades—Gilbert Road to Val Vista Drive Germann Road will be improved to major arterial roadway standards, including six lanes, a raised median, sidewalks, bike lanes, street lights, traffic signals, inter- connect and improvements to the bridge over the Eastern Canal. This project will complete gaps in Germann left between areas previously completed by develop- ment. The project will also include Lind- say Road improvements between Loop 202-Santan Freeway and a quarter-mile south of Germann. Status: Construction began in October on the west side of Lindsay. Crews will maintain one lane in each direction while maintaining left turns at signalized intersections whenever possible. As parts of the project are completed, crews will open those lanes up when safe. Timeline: October 2020-January 2022 Cost: $27.43 million Funding sources: town bonds and funds, regional funds, developer contributions 3 Val Vista Drive widening The town is widening Val Vista Drive from Appleby Road—about where Val Vista narrows to one lane in each direction—to

Riggs Road. The result will be a six-lane section from Ocotillo Road to Merlot Street with a raised landscaped median, bike lanes, sidewalks and streetlights. It would then reduce to four lanes to the south. Traffic signals will be installed at Appleby, Ocotillo and Chandler Heights roads. Status: Traffic is still one lane in each direction, shifted away from the work zone. Work continues for installation of block walls north of Ocotillo Road. Con- crete crews constructed driveways on the east side of Val Vista at Via Del Rancho, Via Del Palo and Val Vista north of Brooks Farm. Concrete crews are installing sidewalk south of Chandler Heights. Grading crews continue their work ahead of concrete installation to prepare for curb, gutter, sidewalk and driveways, including preparation of the subsurface of the roadway from Chandler Heights to Ocotillo for future paving. The bottom layer of asphalt is scheduled to be put

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down just before Thanksgiving. Timeline: March 2020-July 2021 Cost: $25.96 million

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ONGOING PROJECTS 1 Power and Pecos roads water line Lanes are affected as crews complete the water-distribution system in the Power and Pecos roads area, requiring the installation of approximately 5,280 linear feet of a 16-inch water line to connect

existing service lines. This water line will support the growth and development of the surrounding areas and provide reliable pressure and supply as demands in the area grow. Status: Two lanes are closed from Pecos southbound on Power during the day and one lane is closed 24 hours southbound.

Funding sources: bonds, town funds and Maricopa Association of Governments funds ALL INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE WAS UPDATED AS OF NOV. 12. NEWS OR QUESTIONS ABOUT THESE OR OTHER LOCAL TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS? EMAIL US AT GILNEWS@ COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM.

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

TOWN&EDUCATION

News from Gilbert, Gilbert Public Schools & Higley USD

COMPILED BY TOM BLODGETT

LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS

Petersonwins Gilbertmayor post; HigleyUSDfills 3 seats

GPS boardputs plan in place for return to hybrid learning GILBERT PUBLIC SCHOOLS The governing board decided Nov. 4 on a contingency plan to bring schools out of in-person learning and back into hybrid learning if COVID-19 cases get too high in district schools. Under the plan, Gilbert Public Schools gave notice Nov. 5 that Campo Verde High School would return to hybrid learning Nov. 9 for two weeks. The school had 20 active positive cases, representing 1.04% of the student body. Under the plan, which passed by a unanimous vote, an individual campus would switch from in-person to hybrid learning with students on campus two days a week if the number of active cases reaches a certain percentage of the students and staff. For elementary schools, it would be 2%, junior highs 1.5% and high schools 1%.

Here are the results as of Nov. 11 for Gilbert’s contested elections.

*WINNER

Candidate

Votes

%

GILBERT Brigette Peterson, a former Town Council member and vice mayor, has been elected as Gilbert’s next mayor. Peterson collected 70,320 votes, or 56.61%, to Matt Niel- sen’s 53,042, or 42.66% as of Nov. 11. Nielsen called Peterson on the morning of Nov. 6 to concede the race. “I’m really very excited,” Peterson said Nov. 6. “It’s really just starting to sink in.” Nielsen, who had previously not run for office, said he learned much from his first campaign and expressed gratitude to the people who voted for him. “We really do live in a great town,” Nielsen said. Peterson said she was excited to take Gilbert into the future. “I always just look forward to not just planing for the next four

years that I am mayor but for at least 10 or more years.” Higley USD The gov- erning board will have

GILBERT MAYOR Matt Nielsen 53,042 43% Brigette Peterson* 70,320 57% HIGLEY USD GOVERNING BOARD (3 SEATS) Michelle Anderson* 21,575 28% Kristina Reese* 19,752 26% Tiffany Shultz* 18,233 24% Greg Wojtovich 17,129 22%

Brigette Peterson

two new members take office in January along with a returning board member. Michelle Anderson, in her second run for the board, was the leading vote getter while board Vice President Kristina Reese was second. Tiffany Shultz, a newcomer to elections, took the third spot. Incumbent Greg Wojtovich missed re-election, coming in fourth place. Wojtovich first was elected in 2014.

SOURCE: MARICOPA COUNTY ELECTIONS DEPARTMENT/ COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Go to communityimpact.com for coverage of Gilbert Town Council and the town’s school boards. Follow us on Twitter: @impactnews_gil MEETINGSWE COVER

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GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

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COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

BUSINESS FEATURE

BY TOM BLODGETT

The branded swag for purchase at the shop is meant to make Nico’s more than just place for customers to get a haircut.

Nico’s Barber Shop 1614 N. Higley Road, Ste. 102, Gilbert 480-699-3936 www.nicosbarbershop.com something that people can remember, something that sticks,’” Rajiv Patel said. “And then, he was just sitting right there at the time. He was 2 years old, so we were like, ‘Oh, Nico’s. Let’s just call it ‘Nico’s.’” But do not think Nico has not since earned the name: He helped test products when Patel developed his line of hair products. WHAT’S INANAME? The name “Nico’s Barber Shop” comes from Patel’s 4-year-old son, Nico. “We had all these dierent ideas and names, and then, we nally said to ourselves, ‘We need to nd something easy,

When he was set to open, Rajiv Patel did not even know a barber. Now he has a crew of them.

Rajiv Patel, left, opened Nico’s Barber Shop in 2017 before he got his license to cut hair, but he has since learned how. (Photos by Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Nico’s Barber Shop Entrepreneur nds niche in cutting hair to help people look good, do good R ajiv Patel grew up in Mesa with something of an entrepreneurial spirit. As an adult, that manifested in opening in Mesa last year. “I didn’t even know a barber,” he said. “I was just praying it would work out.” It did work out, Patel said. He assembled a small team to do the

and decorates the shop in holiday themes. Beyond that, Patel has established a “Look good, do good” theme that is painted on his shop wall. For every haircut given in the shop, a meal is donated to Feed My Starving Children, and the shop has donated more than 35,000 meals to date. The shop’s barbers also go to the Child Crisis Center once a month to give free haircuts and check in with the kids there. Patel said he believes the social mission is half of what they do. “It’s howwe wanted to make an impact,” he said. “This is a personal feeling, but I feel like it’s almost irresponsible to have a business and not give back in some way.”

a home security and automation company. But after he sold that o, he started looking for the next thing. “One of the things that I was almost fascinated with was doing a barbershop,” Patel said. “On free time, I would drive around and look into barbershops, and I always thought that the vibe was cool.” Those drives also showed him that the area lacked barbershops with a more modern feel, he said, so in 2017, Patel opened one of his own in Gilbert, Nico’s Barber Shop, even though he did not know how to cut hair. He expanded into a second shop

work that rst year, and he would get them started each day before running o to go to school to learn the trade. Patel thought perhaps he would learn just enough to knowwhat his barbers were doing, but he found he loved cutting hair and now does it four days a week, he said. On the business side, Patel set out to build a culture in the shop where it would be a place not just to get your hair cut, but to grow up in. Toward that end, Patel has stickers and shirts, has developed a line of hair products

Hours: Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sun.

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GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

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10

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

DINING FEATURE

THREE DISHES TO TRY

The Black Pepper Filet Mignon ($16) , when served over steamed rice, is Albert Kan’s favorite.

Diane and Albert Kan said they made Simi’s Cafe into a real family restaurant and extended the family to include longtime sta.

The orange chicken ($13) has just a “dusting” of orange peel sauce, Albert Kan said. PHOTOS BY TOM BLODGETTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

Simi’s Café Restaurant has become gathering place for extended family E ight years ago, Albert Kan found himself burnt out on the restaurant business and, perhaps more importantly, a little too far entrance, where the Kans gather for family meals around 5 or 6 o’clock. In fact, Kan said, the restaurant is very much a family gathering spot. BY TOM BLODGETT

Chowmein ($7.95-$10) can be served with vegetables, beef or barbecue pork.

from his parents. That, he said, is when he sold his Peoria restaurant to a friend, moved across the Valley to Gilbert, bought a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant in a strip mall and renamed it “Simi’s Café.” That proved to make a big dierence, Kan said. “My mom and dad were just driving too far to their grandchild,” he said. “We all moved here because you don’t know how long you have. I’m seeing, like, family members just kind of pass. So we’re like, ‘Well, it’s too far.’ So we moved over here.” Simi’s Café is named after that grandchild, now 15 years old. Albert describes the restaurant as primarily oering his dad’s pho—a Vietnamese beef and noodle soup—and his own stir-fry dishes. The new place also has been a boon to family time. It is open six days a week, where the larger Peoria restaurant was open seven, giving the Kans a family day on Sundays. They also are able to eat together each night in a room to the right of the restaurant

“Owning a restaurant—you don’t have a family life,” Kan said. “So Grandpa [and] Grandma will come out, and we’ll all talk.” At Simi’s, the family works as well as talks. Albert Kan has a day job at an engineering rm and does operations behind the scenes. He comes in to relieve his wife, Diane, and help at night. Diane, he said, is more out front, and Grandpa Allen Kan is there every morning, tending to the soup. The sta members are now considered part of the family, Kan said. Everyone looks out for each other, and they even vacation together, taking cruises each summer during the hottest time of the year. Kan said working at Simi’s is likely to be the last job for everyone working there. As far as clientele, Kan said they are mostly people in the neighborhood who staers know by name. “We were so blessed,” Kan said about the move. “The people are so nice in Gilbert. They make [us] feel very welcome.”

Simi’s Café 2401 E. Baseline Road, Ste. 118, Gilbert 480-633-8800 www.facebook.com/simiscafe Hours: Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., closed Sun.

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11

GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

Gilbert Regional Park’s rst phase has rolled out over the past year, but now the town is looking at what is next to develop in the 272-acre park.

PARKING

8

7

KEY

Gilbert Regional Park has land set aside for two future public-private partnerships. The process for developing the two sites, one on 5 acres and the other on 10, starts with a “Request for Qualications” process to nd capable potential partners that the town could invite to submit proposals.

E. QUEEN CREEK RD.

EVENT LAWN

6

4

5

1

5-acre RFQ site Ocotillo Bridge Undeveloped area

Future site of The Strand @ Gilbert Water Park 10-acre RFQ site for hotel/retail

3

2

LAKE

CONTINUED FROM 1

Carmona stressed that all ideas are welcome for space still to be developed at either site. The town also is begin- ning to leverage the new space for community and regional events. The amphitheater and event lawn, in particu- lar, could help the town land future events, ocials said. “We spent a lot of time designing that lawn so it could host those larger events,” Car- mona said. “We denitely have some groups reaching out that are interested in those larger concerts, larger destina- tion-style events.” NewatGilbertRegional Park When Desert Sky Park opened last year, much was made of its sports and t- ness theme, which included a “Ninja Warrior”-style play- ground. Most of the devel- oped land went to ll a need

1 Amphitheater 2 Group ramada 3 Walking path 4 Phase 1 play-

5 Basketball courts 6 Tennis courts 7 Pickleball courts 8 Sand volleyball courts

grounds/splash pad

SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

N

of courts opened in July after they were completed ahead of schedule. Carmona said those courts have stayed busy since they have opened. “The 16 pickleball courts are quite honestly full morning and night all week,” he said. “The six tennis courts are also doing very well, and then the two basketball courts, which at night, you can denitely nd that teen crowd out there and a lot of excitement around those sports courts.”

8,000-10,000 spectators once COVID-19 restrictions on large group gatherings are lifted, Carmona said. Programming thepark The size of the event lawn is critical for attracting larger regional events to Gilbert, o- cials said. It also couldbe the key piece to attracting a signature event for the town, a longtime desire of Mayor Scott Anderson, who once was the town’s parks and recreation manager.

for multipurpose elds, which sports clubs have kept in use, Carmona said. Gilbert Regional, on the other hand, opened six weeks earlier with two playgrounds and a giant splash pad that was geared toward play for children of all ages. The latest phase brought more sports courts to the park. The additions are six sand volleyball courts, two full outdoor basketball courts, 16 pickleball courts and six ten- nis courts. The latter three sets

Park users have given their approval to the new courts, too. Gilbert resident Amber Gatej said she has enjoyed the sand volleyball and pickleball courts. “I’m just excited that we have something so big that Gilbert residents can take advantage of,” she said. “It’s nice to have.” The new lake is open to sh- ing for residents with an urban shing license,while theevent lawn in front of the amphithe- ater is large enough to hold

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12

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

2

7

8

Here is how money is budgeted for Gilbert Regional Park in the town’s Capital Improvement Plan.

Group ramada

Pickleball courts

Sand volleyball courts

Anderson said he wanted the town to have something similar to the Tucson Gem, Mineral and Fossil Show- case—an annual collection of shows in late January through mid-February—or the New- port Folk Festival in Rhode Island. “And nowwe’ve got a venue that could handle something like that,” Anderson said. Carmona said such large- scale events are possible with the amphitheater, but that is not where the town plans to start. Carmona said it will be with community events. “In our conversations as a department and [with] coun- cil, we wanted to work on a lot of those community-style events and make sure this is a park for the Gilbert com- munity, and then down the line, mix in the availabil- ity for some of those larger events with a main-stage-type name,” Carmona said. Anderson said he supports the park being for the commu- nity rst. “But we are getting to a point where we have planned some signicant destinations, like this park, where we need

Gilbert also would like to establish pub- lic-private partner- ships to develop 5-acre

to think beyond just oering things that our local residents would do because they are probably smaller scale,” he said. “We need to start think- ing bigger scale, and this park lends itself to that.” The opening weekend for Phase 1B included a series of events that could be seen as a trial run for future pro- gramming in the park. Those events included a concert in the park, movie in the park with reworks, morning yoga class, a shing derby and a dine-out night. Some regional events are coming, too. The town has partnered with the Sand Club, a sand volleyball tour- nament organizer, to put on a large regional tournament with music and activities in the park Nov. 20-22. The Sand Club co-owner Allen Alexan- der said he hopes his group will be able to put on a few such events through the year “The rst time I just looked at [the park] as a volleyball player,” Alexander said. “Then you’re looking it froman event promoter perspective. And, yeah, it’s got everything.” Smaller events are possible,

too. Carmona mentioned weddings, with the San Tan Mountains as a backdrop, as

SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

one example. Comingsoon Beyond

and 10-acre parcels at Gilbert Regional Park. A hotel, which could host visitors to large events, is one example of a development town ocials could pursue there. The town already has a part- nership to develop a 30-acre parcel in Gilbert Regional Park for The Strand @ Gilbert, a water park that could host surf competitions, although COVID-19-related delays have pushed the opening of that back to August 2022. From the early feedback, Eva Kirschbaum, Gilbert Parks and Recreation digital market- ing coordinator, said a skate park and dog park are two popular suggestions. The land at Desert Sky Park could easily turn into more multipurpose elds if the need remains, Car- mona said, but it also could add a dog park. Anderson said he would like to see some of the park’s undeveloped land in the southern portion remain as-is desert landscaping. Considered the father of the

Riparian Preserve, Anderson said he also would like to see the proposed Ocotillo Bridge built between the park and an adjacent riparian area. He has talked with a wildlife rescue group in Cave Creek about opening a southern rehab facility at Gilbert Regional Park. He said some of the burrow- ing owls in the habitat at Zan- jero Park could be relocated to Gilbert Regional Park during construction of the Lindsay Road interchange for Loop 202-SanTan Freeway, which aects Zanjero Park and the habitat. “Most of the feedback they get from most of the public is to build more ballelds and build more soccer elds,” Anderson said. “I can under- stand that because we have so many kids in the community. But I think we need to look at oering a variety of things.”

programming, the town already is looking at future development. It opened a webpage to get feed- back from residents and held a virtual town hall with the park designer, Dig Studios, to gather feedback Nov. 17 and has scheduled another for Jan. 10. Similarly, Kimley-Horn held a sessionNov. 5 on Desert Sky Park andwill hold another Dec. 10. The feedback gathered there will be presented to Town Council in the spring as parks and recreation seeks to plan future parks phases. Between past and future expenditures, the town has planned to spend as much as $190.42 million at Gilbert Regional Park and $98.71 mil- lion at Desert Sky Park when they are completed in the coming years. The funds come fromseveral sources including capital improvement funds, system development fees, the general fund and bonds.

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GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

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14

COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER • COMMUNITYIMPACT.COM

From February 2019-February 2020, Gilbert averaged 303 disconnections per month, according to town data. The town suspended disconnections after March 10 and thereafter began tracking those getting further behind in payments. Since then, the town collected data, usually on a weekly basis, on how many accounts were eligible for dis- connection and how much money was owed to the town. Here are the results reecting days the BILLS OVERDUE

$400K

2,000

$300K

1,500

$200K

1,000

$100K

500

0

0

town pulled the data. SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERT COMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER

FUNDS FLOWING

Town ocials say the enterprise funds from utility billings remain healthy as shown compared to the previous year’s collections. Here is how those funds stand through the rst quarter of scal year 2020-21.

may be more serious. Pfost said some residents’ bills have not been paid since January, meaning such a resi- dent could owe the town sev- eral hundred dollars. Accounts that delinquent may mean the account holder is frozen by fear in facing the problem, Pfost said, and dis- connection has often been the tool to force a needed conver- sation with the town. With shutos suspended, the town still is trying to encourage those conversa- tions. Before the allocation of CARES Act money, the town had an automated email that directed residents to dierent resources they could contact. Now the town has one for the Community Action Program that AZCEND administers as well as a similar note that points to the program when customers contact the town. Even as late fees resume being charged to accounts in November, town ocials continue to stress that they will work with residents who reach out to them on a exible payment plan. “We’re always willing to work with them,” said Les- lie Giltner, customer service manager in the utilities divi- sion. “It really just depends on howmuch they owe and what their individual situation is.” Help for thosebehind The granting of CARES Act money to AZCEND to help res- idents with town utilities was critical, Johanson said. AZCEND was awarded $280,726 in Community

Development Block Grant- CARES Act funds in June to assist with rent and utility assistance for Gilbert resi- dents in response to the pan- demic. Gilbert Town Council approved an additional $200,000 to AZCEND in a spe- cial meeting Sept. 29. “We have really seen a ramp-up in the need and then in our ability to provide ser- vices with funding, much of it from the CARES Act,” Don- ovan said. As demonstration of that, Donovan said in a typi- cal week before COVID-19, AZCEND would assist 11 fam- ilies with $5,500 in aid. But for the week of Oct. 19-23, the nonprot helped 138 families with $241,000, covering rent and dierent utilities. “[Families] can let our eli- gibility specialists know what their needs are and what hasn’t been paid and those circumstances of their crisis, and then [the specialists] will nd what funding they qual- ify for,” Donovan said. Families looking for help can get a packet online at https://azcend.org or in per- son at an AZCEND site, includ- ing in Gilbert at the Gilbert Community Center, 132 W. Bruce Ave. Pfost also said Gilbert fami- lies who are in position to help can do so through the town’s Neighbor 2 Neighbor program, where donations can be made through utility bills.

attempt to contact the resi- dent or leave a door hanger if no one was home. The campaign’s result, o- cials said, was a reduction in the delinquent accounts, and data bears that out: By Aug. 18, the number of accounts eligible for disconnection had fallen to 1,058 and the total amount owed to $251,747. Thereafter, however, the number of accounts behind began to grow again. By Oct. 13, 1,515 accounts were eligible for disconnection. By Nov. 9, the amount owed to the city was up to $356,221. The number of accounts was relatively small, at 1.61%, as it has 88,800 customers as of Nov. 9, ocials said. Pfost said the town’s water, wastewater and environmen- tal services enterprise funds, which get their revenue from residential and commercial utilitybillings, remainhealthy. In fact, revenue collected in the rst quarter of scal year 2020-21 on the water, waste- water and residential environ- mental services accounts are all slightly up year over year, though commercial environ- mental services are down. “It’s not really lost reve- nue,” Pfost said about residen- tial enterprise fund revenue that is yet to be collected. “We expect to receive that money. It’s more a matter of timing on when we get it.” Residents’ burden While the town is able to withstand the downturn, o- cials say they recognize for some residents the situation

First quarter FY 2019-20

First quarter FY 2020-21

WATER ENTERPRISE FUND REVENUE

$14.17M

$15.28M

WASTEWATER

$7.31M $7.34M

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES RESIDENTIAL

$3.67M $3.72M

ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES COMMERCIAL SOURCE: TOWN OF GILBERTCOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER $620,942 $677,818

Growingdelinquencies It can take at least 45 days— usually more like 120—from billing for a utility account to be disconnected, said Håkon Johanson, Gilbert’s director of nance and management ser- vices. Thus the eect of sus- pending disconnections after March 10 was not immediate. But in February the number of accounts disconnected was 267, and by May 18, the num- ber eligible for disconnection had grown to 1,206. That number continued to grow until July 23 when it reached a peak of 1,559 accounts eligible for discon- nection, according to town data. Those accounts owed the town a collective $303,411, an average of $194.62 per account. In August the town made eorts to reach out to those behind in their bills. The meter services team would

CONTINUED FROM 1

important piece of our entire community becoming healthier and getting back to where we need to be to move forward.” The money not paid to the town thus far has not hurt it nancially or operationally, Budget Director Kelly Pfost said. The eect is on individ- ual residents. Town ocials said they believe the timing is right— even as coronavirus cases are climbing again in the town— because assistance has been made available to residents through nonprots such as AZCEND. The town has used a portion of its federal Coronavirus, Aid, Recovery and Economic Secu- rity, or CARES Act, money to bolster how much the non- prots can help Gilbert resi- dents in need.

For more information, visit communityimpact.com .

15

GILBERT EDITION • NOVEMBER 2020

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