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by Art Martori
Saturday, Jul. 29, 2006 at 9:04 AM
City slickers from Hollywood sucker Mesa hillbilly government rulers into letting then use a Mesa freeway to film an expensive move for FREE! Mesa citizens are not as dumb as their hillbilly government rulers and are pretty angry because they can’t use the freeway and because the rich Hollywood firm gets to use it for free.
Reaction mixed to Loop 202 closure in Mesa
By Art Martori, Tribune
July 27, 2006
East Mesa residents had mixed reactions to the closure of a portion of Loop 202 so that a film crew could shoot a movie there.
Thursday night marks the beginning of a series of closures that will shut down part of the Red Mountain Freeway stretch of Loop 202, between Higley and Power Roads. The Arizona Department of Transportation gave free use of the freeway to Universal Films to shoot a scene for the film "The Kingdom."
But that means East Valley traffic will have to yield for the next three weekends to movie stars such as Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman, who will star in the movie.
While the closure will shut down a major thoroughfare in the rapidly growing Red Mountain district of east Mesa, officials from one of the area's largest homeowner's association said they haven't heard any complaints — yet.
"I have not had feedback from any homeowners at all," said Don DeBacca, general manager of the Red Mountain Ranch Homeowner's Association. "Maybe talk to me after this weekend."
ADOT officials said the decision to close portions of the freeway came after much thought. It was the potential economic impact on Mesa that led to their decision.
"It's an overall economic development opportunity for the area," said Doug Nintzel, an ADOT spokesman. "It's the only stretch of freeway where this can be done. We certainly wouldn't look at closing a freeway closer to Phoenix."
But some Mesa residents who live by the freeway disagreed that it would help business and said it will only make it more difficult for regular people to get around.
Mike Fears, a communications technician, drives on the 202 from his home at Crismon Road and Southern Avenue in Mesa to his job in Chandler. He said the closure would lengthen his commute.
"Since they built the freeway, it's taken a half-hour off my commute, one way," he said. "Now it'll cost me an hour a day."
He added that he thought it was unfair for ADOT to let the film crews use the freeway without paying rent on it.
"I don't like it a bit," Fears said. "They're not paying for my extra gas. They're not compensating me for the extra time."
Other residents who don't use the freeway said it still bothered them that ADOT would just give away use of the 202.
Kristen Dilullo, a mortgage broker who works in the area, said it bothered her to find out where her tax dollars were going.
"I wasn't that upset about it at first," said Kristen Dilullo, a mortgage broker who works in the area. "But now that I find out that they're not paying anything, I'm a little upset. Taxpayers shouldn't lose use of the freeway."
Nintzel said ADOT isn't completely giving away the freeway. Universal will repay ADOT for any expenses that stem from filming, he said. He added that he didn't know if ADOT ever brought up to Universal the idea of paying a fee, like the ,000 the production company gave to the City of Gilbert to film a scene at the city jail.
Some people who commute from the Red Mountain area said they were happy to make the sacrifice to aid economic development in Mesa.
Ken Wells, an irrigator who services homes in the area, said production of "The Kingdom" would help Mesa more than he ever could.
"To, me it will be well worth it," he said. "It will probably bring a lot more money to the community than I do."
Contact Art Martori by email, or phone (480) 898-6514
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