Blog Archives

June 2013 Meeting Agenda

DVCblocksOur June 8, 2013, meeting is coming up very soon! We meet from 9:30am to 11:30am at the Roosevelt Commons Clubhouse, 825 N 6th Avenue in downtown Phoenix.

On our agenda: 

I. Call to Order and Introductions

II. Consent Agenda

  • Treasurer’s Report – Louisa Stark
  • Approval of Minutes from 11 May 2013 will be in July

III. Community Updates / Guest Speakers

  • Vista College Prep (new charter school) – Julia Meyerson

IV. Updates on DVC Action Items 2013 as needed

V. Old Business

  • Hance Park updates – Louise Roman / Tim Sprague / Edward Jensen

VI. New Business

  • Downtown YMCA housing news – Louisa Stark
  • PO Box arrangement at the Downtown Post Office – Tim Eigo and officers
  • Downtown Phoenix Inc update – Tim Eigo
  • Greening Lower Grand Avenue award – Beatrice Moore
  • DVC 10th Anniversary Planning Committee – Officers
  • ASU College of Law building architect selection – Louise Roman

VII. Open Floor 2 minutes each, please!

VIII. Adjournment – A meeting of the Officers may follow.


May 2013 Meeting Agenda

DVCblocksOur May 11, 2013, meeting is coming up very soon! We meet from 9:30am to 11:30am at the Roosevelt Commons Clubhouse, 825 N 6th Avenue in downtown Phoenix.

On our agenda: 

I. Call to Order and Introductions

II. Consent Agenda (for information only)

  • Treasurer’s Report – Louisa Stark

III. Community Updates / Guest Speakers

  • Roosevelt Streetscape and Upcoming Streets Projects – Ray Dovalina and others
  • Novawest presentation on “The Pin” observation deck – Jay Thorne and Eric Johnson

IV. Updates on DVC Action Items 2013 as needed

V. Old Business

  • DVC t-shirt design approval – Louise Roman / Steve Weiss / Will Bruder
  • Hance Park updates – Louise Roman / Tim Sprague / Edward Jensen

VI. New Business

  • New Subcommittee to look at Bylaws Amendments – Executive Committee
  • Adams Street design charrettes – open floor to those who attended
  • Valley of the Sunflowers parking lot – Tim Eigo et al

VII. Open Floor 2 minutes each, please!

VIII. Adjournment – A meeting of the Officers may follow.

Next Meeting: Saturday 8 June 2013, 9:30am, Roosevelt Commons Clubhouse


April 2013 Meeting Agenda

DVCblocksOur April 13, 2013, meeting is coming up very soon! We meet from 9:30am to 11:30am at the Roosevelt Commons Clubhouse, 825 N 6th Avenue in downtown Phoenix.

On our agenda: 

I. Call to Order and Introductions

II. Consent Agenda (for information only)

  • Treasurer’s Report

III. Community Updates / Guest Speakers

  • METRO South Central Ave project – Sonya Pastor
  • Roosevelt Streetscape planning – Sean Sweat / Kevin Rille
  • Shipping Container Infill Project – Cole Van Norman
  • Reinvent PHX – Kurt Upton

IV. Updates on DVC Action Items 2013 as needed

V. Old Business

  • DVC as 501(c)(3) organization
  • DVC t-shirt comments and/or approval
  • Follow-up and Action Items from The Arizona We Want forum
  • Hance Park Master Plan team
  • Greening Grand Avenue project
  • Downtown Phoenix Inc. updates

VI. New Business

  • DVC Officers’ Nomination Committee
  • City of Phoenix FY2014 Budget and Food Tax
  • DVC 10th Anniversary Planning Committee
  • Novawest/BIG proposed “The Pin” and DPI involvement
  • Downtown Phoenix dog parks

VII. Open Floor 2 minutes each, please!

VIII. Adjournment – A meeting of the Officers may follow.

Hance Park Master Plan Design Team is announced

300308_591530424193170_1324452721_nEarlier today, the City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation Department announced their recommendation for the Hance Park Master Plan RFQ (Request for Qualifications). The four finalist firms were Weddle & Gilmore (from Scottsdale), Stoss Landscape Urbanism (Boston, Mass.), Gould Evans (Phoenix), and West 8 Urban Design (Rotterdam, Netherlands). The recommendation went to Weddle & Gilmore, having scored the most points on the City’s scoring criteria.

Joining Weddle & Gilmore are the following firms with expertise in various areas:

  • !melk (landscape architecture) – New York, N.Y.
  • Floor Associates (landscape architecture) – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • HR&A Advisors (development advisory) – New York, N.Y.
  • ETM Associates (public space design) – Highland Park, N.J.
  • City Activators Inc. – New York, N.Y.
  • Rider Levett Bucknall (construction project management) – global
  • Pentagram (visual design) – London / New York, N.Y.
  • Kimber Lanning (Local First Arizona) – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • Public Workshop (youth involvement in urban design) – Philadelphia, Penn.
  • David Evans & Associates (land development design) – Portland, Ore.
  • Buro Happold (environmental engineering) – Bath, England, U.K.
  • IAS Labs (soil analysis) – Tempe, Ariz.
  • Artistic Arborist (tree management) – Phoenix, Ariz.
  • RAMM (geotechnical engineering) – Tempe, Ariz.

We look forward to working with Weddle & Gilmore as well as these other organizations to make Hance Park a world-class park.

Hance Deck Park Steering Committee Vision Document

At the DVC meeting on Saturday, April 9, 2011, the Hance Deck Park Steering Committee presented outlines of the member’s vision, mission and goals for the steering committee.

Attached is a document that contains the statements by all of the Steering Committee.  All of these statements were presented and discussed at the committee meeting last week. The meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month at 3:30 pm at the Irish Cultural Center and are open to the public.

HPMPSC Mission Complete list

A Perspective on Downtown Phoenix’s Hance Park

[Source: Seth Anderson, Boy Meets Blog]

In 2005 the Phoenix New Times awarded one if it’s prestigious “Best of…” awards to Hance Park. Hance Park won the award for Best Place to Meet a Crack Dealer. Sigh. Under-utilization and misuse of parks is not unique only to Phoenix, it’s a huge problem in this country.

There are very few parks that actually function the way they should. (For more detailed information I refer you to Jane Jacobs and her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities.)

This particular downtown park is named after Margaret Taylor Hance, the first woman to serve as mayor in Phoenix from 1976-1983. Interstate 10 now runs continuously through downtown Phoenix and stretches from Santa Monica to Jacksonville. But that wasn’t the case until 1990. In order to construct this freeway, the city demolished and wrecked parks of the Garfield, Coronado, and Roosevelt neighborhoods which I must say have never recovered from the gash that the freeway created. The freeway severed connectivity of the inner city neighborhoods. Sigh…

Above the tunnel the city created a 32.5 acre park (often called “Deck Park” because it sits atop the freeway) and is home to the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Irish Cultural Center.

This rendering is from 1989 and was the original vision of the park:

Notice all the green open space. It looks nothing like that today.

I also found this picture of a carrousel that was supposed to go into this park. It never did.

The park is now in a “visioning phase designed to bring the community together and provide a unified direction for a revised master plan of the park.” (Keeping in mind that the master plan was never realized to begin with.) I would love to see this park thrive and be a true source of pride for the city but for that to happen we need more people living near this park. There is enough vacant land around this area that could be redeveloped from vacant parking lot to mixed-use development. No amount of “visioning” will solve the problem of this park.

As Jane Jacobs wrote The Life and Death of Great American Cities, “You can neither lie to a neighbourhood park, nor reason with it. ‘Artist’s conceptions’ and persuasive renderings can put pictures of life into proposed neighbourhood parks or park malls, and verbal rationalizations can conjure up users who ought to appreciate them, but in real life only diverse surroundings have the practical power of inducing a natural, continuing flow of life and use.”

The city has more info and some slides for viewing here.

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DVC Letter Regarding Liquor Sales at Central and McDowell CVS

City of Phoenix
City Clerk Department
200 West Washington Street, 1st Floor
Phoenix, Arizona 85003

This is to inform you that the Downtown Voices Coalition Steering Committee has voted to support the Roosevelt and Townsend Park neighborhoods in their opposition to the request by CVS Pharmacy #9347 for a Series 09 liquor license. Additionally, this letter reflects the sentiment of several individual steering committee members who are currently participating in the development of the Hance Park Master Plan.

The sale of packaged liquor at the neighboring CVS location would, we believe, have a negative affect both on Hance Park, as well as on local neighborhoods. We believe that the ready availability of alcohol to the many street people who frequent the park will result in the same kinds of problems associated with public alcohol consumption and inebriation experienced in similar areas frequented by homeless individuals – Townsend and University Parks come to mind. Such problems, in turn, tend to spill over into neighboring communities, creating negative impacts on their quality of life, and resulting in more calls for service from police and other public agencies.

To conclude, we are requesting that the City Council deny the request by CVS Pharmacy #9347 for a Series 09 liquor license. We believe that if awarded it will serve as a detriment to the renewal of Hance Park, as well as have a negative influence on the quality of life in local neighborhoods

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Wm. Timothy Sprague
Vice Chair, Downtown Voices Coalition

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Share your opinion on a Skateboard Plaza in downtown Phoenix

Last week, this blog noted that the Rob Dyrdek Foundation has donated $50,000 to design and build a skate park in the City of Phoenix. At the time, Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Nowakowski stated:

I’m thrilled to help bring a world-class skate course to my district. Residents have voiced concerns for additional recreational activities where they live and despite an economic downturn and budget cuts, we’re still able to create this opportunity for youth and families.

One of the sites that is seriously being considered is Hance Park.  It is downtown, pedestrian-friendly, accessible by numerous forms of public transit and near several schools and active neighborhoods.

Lafayette Skate Spot Rendering via Rob Dyrdek Foundation

City of Phoenix staff are looking for people express their opinions to the Parks Board at their next meeting, this Wednesday, September 1st, at 10AM.  The meeting will be held in the Parks Conference Room on the 16th floor of City Hall, 200 W. Washington.

For further information on the meeting, please call Marcia Wilson, Secretary, Parks and Recreation Department at 602-262-4993.

If you can not attend the meeting, you can share you opinion by sending an email to and your respective city council member.

A New Life for Downtown Phoenix’s Deck Park?

[Source: Connie Cone Sexton, The Arizona RepublicFeaturing a quotation from past DVC Chair, and current Secretary, Steve Weiss.

Photograph: Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic

Work is under way to pump new life into a 32-acre park that floats above the Deck Park Tunnel near downtown Phoenix.

City officials are dusting off the late 1980s original master plan and hope one day to find the money to see envisioned projects become real.

Twenty years ago this month, Valley residents flocked to the opening of the tunnel, a marvel of transportation engineering that cut a hole through a half-mile of central Phoenix real estate.

It was the final puzzle piece to finish Interstate 10 and create an unbroken 2,400-mile-plus stretch between California and Florida.

But the tunnel was also one of the biggest bonanzas for the city of Phoenix: a chance to create a park atop the portion of the Papago Freeway between Third Avenue and Third Street, just south of McDowell Road.

Thousands of homes had already been cleared when initial plans called for the highway segment to be aboveground.

Officials and area residents had grand plans for a sort of mini Central Park: Visitors to the Deck Park would be able to stroll through a grassy picnic area, pass through a grove of trees into a bustling urban plaza, snap a few pictures by the park’s fountains and carousel, then head for a concert at the outdoor amphitheater.

Since opening in 1992 as the renamed Margaret T. Hance Park, the site offers several amenities, including the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Irish Cultural Center and large expanses of grass, but it lacks the allure that city leaders hoped to see.

Downturns in the economy and constraints on the Phoenix budget kept the city from adding features like the amphitheater and carrousel. Although a handful of festivals are held outside the Burton Barr Central Library, which sits on the northern midpoint of the park, more are needed, observers say.

But with a resurgence of interest and activity in downtown Phoenix and new residents moving into surrounding historic homes, the time is right to take another look at the park, said Tom Bryne, a landscape architect for the city.

The potential for the site is great, he said, adding: “It has good bones but not a lot of attractions or things in the park to stimulate activity.”

A task force reviewing the park and neighbors say they’d like to see better lighting, maybe a dog park, coordination among the cultural groups to expand activities, a bike-rental shop, food vendors and canopies of shade.

Joan Kelchner, a member of the neighborhood Roosevelt Action Association, is excited that the city is starting what she calls “a very aggressive attempt to update the park.”

Kelchner, who moved into the Roosevelt Historic District adjacent to the park in 1984, hopes the new visioning of the park will spur the preservation of the city-owned Winship House, a historic building on the west side of the park.

She believes it will take private-public partnerships to truly ignite the master plan for Hance Park. Kelchner suggests a public outdoor market for the site and for artists’ lofts to be developed, much like what the original plan envisioned.

“There has been progress at the park, but it’s been spotty,” she said.

Steve Weiss, secretary of the Downtown Voices Coalition, wishes Hance Park were used more frequently.

“The sad thing about some of the Phoenix parks is that they’re either ignored or loved to death. Hance Park is falling into the former category.”

Jim Burke, Phoenix assistant parks director, is encouraged by the activity he does see.

“There are a lot of folks who jog through or use it as passive recreation,” he said. “But it’s probably a little underutilized.”

Jonathan Davis, a former landscape architect for Howard Needles, Tammen & Bergendoff, who was the project coordinator for the deck, said the park and the tunnel came about when the city was coming of age.

The tunnel and park project is an “incredible engineering marvel,” said Davis, now president of SEMI North America. “It was a fantastic project that had a real hope to serve as a catalyst for growth.”

He said the park was a terrific solution for easing an old wound after the homes had been leveled to make room for the freeway. Instead of a divide that separated neighborhoods, the park, he said, “could be the bridge.”

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