Downtown Voices statement on Patriots Square Park

Members of the Parks and Recreation Board:

Downtown Voices Coalition is a coalition of stakeholder organizations that embrace growth in downtown Phoenix, but is mindful that healthy growth should be based upon existing downtown resources.

On Thursday, February 8, 2007, RED Development unveiled its redesign for Patriots Square Park.  Downtown Voices Coalition finds that design unacceptable for the following reasons.

  • First, the design falls short of the minimum standard for any City of Phoenix public park by concealing the park inside a private development where its public function must necessarily be compromised, if not eliminated altogether.
  • Moreover, the design simply fails to live up to the letter or the spirit of the guiding principles established on September 28, 2006 by the Parks Board for the redesign of Patriots Square Park, or the guiding principles outlined in the Downtown Voices Coalition’s 2004 report, “Creating A Sustainable Downtown.”

We urge the Parks Board to reject RED’s current design.  We ask the Board to direct RED to try again, this time with direct public input in the design process.  For the past several months, the Parks Department has run a successful public-input process which allowed the public to say what it wanted in a redesigned Patriots Square Park.  But that process broke down when the public’s abstract ideas were translated into the current, disappointing design.

To fix the problem, the Parks Board should either engage an outside designer, or establish a public-input process focused on design.  Such a process should allow for the dynamic interchange between the designer and the public.  We urge the Parks Board to accept nothing less than a world-class design, vetted by the public itself.

On a personal note, this whole process has sidestepped the 800-pound gorilla in the room, namely the Downtown Civic Space that will be constructed across from ASU’s 411 Building between Van Buren and Fillmore on Central.  I was on the design review committee that selected EDAW as the design team for this park, and am intimately aware that this space, controlled and designed primarily for the university campus, will not have the same open civic space for assembly that is sought for Patriots Square Park.

A university facility, even one built by Phoenix and maintained by the Parks Department, is still ultimately an ASU facility.  It will not be our park, it will be a shared park, and it will not replace the city’s center park.  The City of Phoenix is attempting to move the center of the city to ASU’s campus, which I don’t feel is appropriate.  Rather, a great park with appropriate development contingent on the guiding principles the Parks Board recommended should be created.

Thank you.

Steve Weiss, Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition

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