Blog Archives

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 receptionist.pks@phoenix.gov and your respective city council member.

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Phoenix residents vow to fight cuts to city programs

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — As Phoenix leaders prepare to whittle $140 million in city services to help close a $245 million budget gap, neighbors say they are ready to fight for popular programs.  The proposed cuts will be announced this week, and there will be public hearings next month at which residents can voice their concerns before the final vote, scheduled for March 2.  But residents aren’t waiting to have their say.

In central Phoenix, downtown activists are worried about two neighborhood parks that they fear could become havens for crime if they lost funding.  In west and south Phoenix, residents want the city to stop trimming library hours.  And in northeast Phoenix, horse enthusiasts are concerned about a popular equestrian park…

The latest round of cuts comes one year after the city slashed $156 million in city services to close a $270 million general-fund budget shortfall.  City leaders are considering a proposed 2 percent grocery tax that could generate $50 million annually.  But even if it is implemented, the city would still have to cut about $100 million in city services.

Since cuts are inevitable, residents also worried that Phoenix may end recreation programs at University and Verde parks.  Cuts at those parks were proposed last year, but the city backed off amid an outcry from the community.  Activists recently spent most of the Downtown Voices Coalition meeting brainstorming ways to shield those parks from more reductions.  Cuts could erase years of community efforts to boost youth programs, discourage gang activity, and make the parks safer, said Reid Butler, a local developer who belongs to the group.

It’s premature to talk about specific programs because no proposals have been made, city spokesman David Urbinato said.

The Parks and Recreation Department has been asked to suggest ways to cut its budget by 30 percent.  At 30 percent, “it would dramatically reduce, if not eliminate” many parks programs, Urbinato said.  The parks would remain open, but the staffing, programs and community centers attached to them would face deep cuts.  “That’s the tragic downside.  There has been massive investment through the system” over the years, Urbinato said.

People now depend on city services more than ever, said Councilman Michael Nowakowski, noting that he and Councilman Michael Johnson represent some of Phoenix’s poorest neighborhoods in west and south Phoenix.

Residents have pressed Nowakowski to protect after-school programs and library hours, the councilman said.  People wait up to three hours to use free computers at César Chavez Library, because they have canceled their Internet service, he said.  Recently, a mother came to a community meeting with an armful of notices about sex offenders who live in her neighborhood, he said.  She wants the city to keep low-cost after-school programs open so her children will be safe, Nowakowski added.  “We need to listen to find out what are the needs and wants for the whole city,” he said.

Friends of Encanto Park seek bids for perimeter fencing

[Source: Susan Dale] — The Friends of Encanto Park are waiting for the last of three bids to come in this week for construction of the new wrought iron fence along the Encanto Golf Course on the north side of Encanto Boulevard and the “Encanto Entrada Portal” (new entry marker) at Eighth Avenue and Encanto Boulevard.

After discussions with City Parks staff members, during the middle of May, it was decided that members of the Friends of Encanto Park put the project out to bid and set a fund-raising target based on the actual cost of implementing the design.  Most of our “Friends” are out of town on vacations right now, so hopefully we will get back with city staff members with our bids towards the end of July.

We understand the City could start designing a Master Plan for the entire Encanto Park renovation this fall. The Friends of Encanto Park are planning to kick off its first of several private fundraisers this fall as well.

The $5 million allocated Phoenix Parks & Preserves Initiative (PPPI) funds will be distributed as follows: FY11/12 – $200,000; FY12/13 – $800,000, and FY13/14 – $4,000,000.

Phoenix parks board officials try to lessen budget cuts

[Source: Connie Cone Sexton Arizona Republic] — Members of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board hope to show their passion for a good cause dear to them.  At stake: the fate of the city department they represent, a department facing dire budget cuts.  To lessen the cuts, board members suggest:

  • Trimming the Public Safety Department budget by an additional 1% (under the current proposal, police and fire leaders each would cut an estimated 7.5% of their operating budgets).
  • Creating a sales tax on groceries.
  • Enlisting community leaders to encourage philanthropy.

To get their message across, members are showing up at each of the 14 meetings scheduled to let the community share concerns about upcoming city budget cuts.  The meetings began Tuesday and will conclude Jan. 27.  Board chairwoman Diana Brooks said the meetings are a chance for members to do what they can to speak up for the Parks and Recreation Department and perhaps lessen the proposed cuts.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

APS Electric Light Parade returns to uptown Phoenix, Dec. 6

[Source: City of Phoenix] — The APS Electric Light Parade returns to the streets of uptown Phoenix for its 22nd straight year.  The 2008 parade, themed “Preserving a Family Holiday Tradition,” kicks off at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 6 on Central Avenue just south of Bethany Home Rd.  Comprehensive parade information is available online in the APS Electric Light Parade link here.  General information is available by phone at 602-534-FEST.

This annual spectacle has attracted up to 200,000 spectators to the parade route.  All entries in the parade –- even individuals in performance groups who walk the route –- are decorated in holiday lights.  In years past, some entries have sported more than 50,000 lights.  In addition to the floats, performance groups and bands also will take part.  From just south of Bethany Home Road, the parade proceeds south on Central Avenue to Camelback Road, then heads east to 7th Street where it turns south to the end point north of Indian School Road.

Below are some tips for those planning on attending the parade:

  • The parade is a rain or shine event.  Keep an eye on weather forecasts and dress accordingly.
  • Spectators are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs.
  • Coolers are permitted, though alcohol and glass containers are not allowed.
  • Viewing spots along the parade route are first-come-first-served.  Spectators often start arriving three hours before parade time to reserve spots.
  • Parking is on street and also is on a first-come-first-served basis.  Private lots near the parade area often offer parking for a fee.

Phoenix’s 1922 Memorial Hall renovated and reopened

[Source: Nicole McGregor, 12 News Today] — An historic part of Phoenix opens to the public this week.  Memorial Hall was part of the Phoenix Indian School when it began in 1922. Closed in the early 90’s, it sat in disarray, until now.  The $5 million project was not a small undertaking; most of the funding came from bonds passed in 2001 and 2006. The idea was to renovate it, not re-do it.  The goal was to retain much of the integrity of the building.  The original wood floors remain and so do about 40 percent of the ceiling tiles.  Even the same bricks can be seen on the outside where students once carved their names.

Back in the 20’s the Memorial Hall was used for graduation, recitals and assemblies for the school. Regional Park Manager Dorothy Blakely says it is just one of three buildings which still stand at Steele Indian School Park.  The other two, the dining hall and elementary/band building will also be renovated, but only on the outside.  Memorial Hall will be available for rent and used for a musical venue when opportunities arise.   Call 602-534-8198 if you’re interested.  The grand opening is this week.  It’s open for public tours Wednesday, October 29 starting at 6:30 p.m.   (Click here for video.)

[Source: Betty Reid, Arizona Republic] — About 200 people attended the grand opening of the restored Memorial Hall at Steele Indian School Park in central Phoenix on Wednesday night.   It cost nearly $5 million and took two years to restore the building.  The auditorium, which seats 350, is part of the old Phoenix Indian School property.   It was built in 1922 and named to honor those who served during World War I.

$300 million recommended to spend on Phoenix parks, land

Rendering of Downtown Civic Space, Phoenix

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — City officials will spend nearly $300 million on land acquisition and park development in the next five years under a proposal recommended recently by the Parks and Recreation Board. The funds, which come from voters’ extension of the Parks and Preserve Initiative earlier this year, will be split almost evenly between acquiring preserve land and developing and improving parks.

Parks due to see funding from the initiative’s passage include:

  • Downtown Civic Space
  • Steele Indian School Park
  • Papago Park
  • Phoenix Zoo
  • Reach 11 Recreation Area
  • Rose Mofford Sports Complex
  • Unnamed park at 51st and Sweetwater avenues

The parks board recommends eliminating a $2 million appropriation for acquisition of Pioneer Living History Village in far north Phoenix. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Learn how to “green” your home and Phoenix neighborhood

[Source: City of Phoenix] — Have you ever wondered what happens to your garbage once it’s picked up by the city?  Do you know what kind of trees to plant at your home and where? These and other environmental-related questions will be addressed to provide residents practical tips to “green” their homes and neighborhood during a free summit from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 20, at the 27th Avenue Solid Waste Facility, 3060 S. 27th Ave.

Other items that will be reviewed include recycling, household waste, urban forestry, water conservation, and energy conservation.

The summit is coordinated by the Neighborhood Services Department, with staff participation from the Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Water Services departments, and Office of Environmental Programs.  “There are so many simple and easy things people can do in and around their homes to help the environment and help themselves,” said Jerome Miller, Neighborhood Services director.  “Hopefully, this summit will inspire them to take productive action.”  For more information or to register, call 602-534-8444.

Phoenix Parks & Recreation Board to discuss citizen feedback, Sept. 11

Dining Hall, Steele Indian School Park, Phoenix

[Source: Phoenix Parks & Recreation Foundation] — On Thursday, September 11, 2008 the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department will present to the Parks and Recreation Board information collected from a series of public meetings and a summer-long online survey designed to allow residents to set priorities for park and preserve development and improvements over the coming years.  

These results, being presented to the public for the first time on September 11, are intended to assist Parks and Recreation Department staff in the development of a proposal and recommendations for consideration by the Parks and Recreation Board.  Ultimately, a final plan must be approved by the Phoenix City Council.

The City created this public involvement process in response to the overwhelming May 20 voter approval of the reauthorization of the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative.  For the past nine years the Initiative, using a one-tenth of one cent sales tax, has raised more than $200 million to fund the construction and improvement of parks throughout the city and the addition of thousands of acres of desert land to the city’s preserve system.  In the May 20 vote, 83% of voters approved a 30-year extension of the program, which was set to expire next year.

The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 5 p.m. in the Phoenix City Council Chambers, 200 West Jefferson Street.  For more information, click here.

Phoenix HP Commission recommends project for Parks, Preserve Initiative

Winship House, Phoenix, Arizona

[Source: Barbara Stocklin, City of Phoenix] — The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission formally recommended that the City Council allocate Parks & Preserve Initiative (PPI) funds to rehabilitate historic properties on city parks where there has been substantial prior public investment and additional funds are still needed to activate a historic building and site for a public use, most notably:

  • $12 million for remaining capital, staffing, and operational needs at Tovrea Castle (including funds needed immediately to help open the park and to provide public restrooms).
  • $5 million for Steele Indian School.
  • $800,000 for the Winship House at 216 W. Portland Parkway.

For a complete list of historic resources managed by the city’s Parks & Recreation Department and in need of significant, click here.