New Chamber Plans Blossom
Autumn is coming to Red Rock Country, and the air is clearing in more ways than one! Sedona’s first Sustainable Tourism Plan is in sharper focus following two public visioning sessions last week at the Sedona Rouge Hotel & Spa. If you didn’t get a chance to attend, please visit FutureOfSedona.com to provide input and to share your ideas.
Then on Wednesday, September 12, the City of Sedona hosted a transit open house where Sedonans had the opportunity to offer ideas on a new transit system connecting Sedona, Oak Creek Canyon and the Village of Oak Creek.
That new system, a part of Sedona In Motion, could have a significant impact on our traffic problems by reducing vehicle numbers and improving flow on SR 179 and SR 89A. It would also give locals and visitors alike the option of a stress-free journey with someone else handling the driving.
For such a transit system to make a difference, it must be efficient and desirable – something all of us will enjoy using. We are fortunate that a highly-respected planning firm will develop the system with plenty of advice from Sedonans. LSC Transportation Consultants will get additional input directly from residents, visitors and consult with a local multi-jurisdictional team that includes the Sedona Chamber of Commerce. We have pledged $10,000 from our Tourism Bureau budget for support and development. Our investment allowed for access to an additional $40,000 in federal grant money.
At the same open house, residents offered ideas for improving traffic circulation within Sedona that can further reduce the necessity of in-town driving. Exciting!
Helping fund transit planning is one way we are reinvesting tourism marketing dollars directly into Sedona transportation solutions. When we presented our Tourism Bureau spending plan to the City Council in June, we proposed using 23 percent of our budget for that purpose. Council unanimously approved.
Here is what that means in FY19:
• $130,000 committed for Verde Lynx Expansion, providing more efficient and timely commutes from neighboring communities into Sedona – and less traffic.
• $128,900 for transportation priority projects as determined by the City
These two amounts, plus the $10,000 for transit planning, represent the $268,900 proposed tourism budget that we asked Council to re-purpose for transportation instead. We will also continue to dedicate time and resources to the following traffic and walkability initiatives:
• Our expanded Wayfinding Plan helps move people efficiently via colorful visual cues. You can already see Wayfinding signs at the seven free parking lots in the Uptown area. We will expand the program in coming months.
• We will continue investing in the property at 401 Jordan Road while working with the City on the most efficient use for it, perhaps as a transit hub to complement coming traffic improvements on SR 89A. The City has the option of taking over the property at any time.
• Further develop Walksedona.com, which encourages visitors to get out of their cars and explore by providing distance and route information directly to their GPS-enabled phones. You can also check out ParkInSedona.com which shows available parking lots and parking availability at the meters with censored parking lots. Our hope, in the future, is that all parking lots be censored so real-time parking availability can be accessed at any time.
• Continued investment in “Sedona Secret 7”, a favorite visitor tool that diverts traffic to lesser-used trails and educates visitors about the beauty and fragility of Sedona.
• The Sustainable Tourism Plan will include recommendations for additional innovative visitor traffic management and reduction.
After years of careful planning together, we now see tourism and transportation improvements beginning to have the impact we all want. As the beautiful Sedona autumn progresses, our community is progressing, too. I hope you will continue to stay involved in the process of making Sedona the best place to live, work, play and visit!