State’s No. 2 attraction may get added pizazz as planners dive into report

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Tempe beach park has the second-highest rate of annual visitors in Arizona. The Grand Canyon has the top-ranked spot.

As if Tempe Town Lake isn’t already one of Arizona’s premier destinations, plans are being discussed to give it even more pizazz.

And with those additions, naturally, the power to attract even more than the 2-million-plus people who annually visit its shores and nearby environs.

Results of a recent study have provided city planners with a tentative road map for improvements that could span the next three decades—provided, that is, that the money needed to enhance attractions at the site would become available.

The concept was floated following completion of a dialog among residents and others focused on the possibility of updating a list of master-plan projects that were approved almost 20 years ago. An in-depth review of the group’s findings is due to begin within weeks, along with discussion of where the city might find money to undertake some of the proposed improvements.

Melissa Quillard, a member of the city’s public information staff, has been quoted as saying that, while the proposed additions may require fees from those who utilize any new services, some of the ideas unveiled so far could be considered “visionary” and add to the economic and other advantages that Tempe already enjoys, especially in its downtown venues.

The park area’s existing usage, which last year included 30 or more major events, has started to stretch the capability of city staff to maintain landscape and other infrastructure, especially when major events are scheduled close to one another, according to Quillard.

Among ideas being considered are the creation of “green space” for art- and performance-related programs adjacent to Tempe Center for the Arts; areas for such fun and physical challenges as rock climbing and open- air gymnastics; sports fields; and something evoking the style of San Antonio’s popular river walk, possibly with shops and leisure attractions.

Tempe Beach Park is second only to Grand Canyon in its number of annual visitors.

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