[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — When Phoenix’s Parks and Recreation Department cut $15.5 million, it was only a matter of time before downtown parks began to feel the pain. Among the laundry list of cuts was the $288,000 private security contract for six Phoenix parks, including Margaret T. Hance Park at 1134 N. Central Ave. That and other budget cuts took effect in April, city officials say.
Roosevelt Action Association members have complained to the city about the lost security detail, but it doesn’t look like it will come back any time soon. “I believe this decision (was) short sighted and injurious to our neighborhood,” wrote the group’s president Steve Brueckner in a neighborhood newsletter. While the one man patrol “may not sound like much, this security made a significant difference in the number of crime- and drug- related incidents occurring in the park at night. The patrol also did a great job of keeping people from spending the night in the park,” Brueckner wrote.
The night guard was one of many tough decisions, said assistant parks director Jim Burke. The cuts included eliminating most of the city’s youth sports programs, which served 3,850 children last year. “This is the new reality at the parks department,” Burke said. When residents call with concerns, “We have to figure out how to make it as positive as possible,” he added.