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2 So. Tempe parks could be due for million-dollar makeovers

By Doug Snover

June 24, 2006

Residents in two areas of south Tempe have asked the city to fund master plans for their neighborhood parks in hopes of qualifying the parks for million-dollar makeovers sometime in the next four or five years.

The Alta Mira Neighborhood Association has applied for a $12,000 Maryanne Corder Neighborhood Grant from the city of Tempe to create a master plan for the 5-acre Goodwin Park at Taylor Drive and Caroline Lane.

Meanwhile, the Scudder Park West and Juniper-Watson neighborhood associations have jointly applied for $12,000 in Tempe grant money to create a master plan for the 33-year-old Scudder Park at Lakeshore and Watson drives.

Having master plans on file likely would make the two city parks prime candidates for approximately $1 million each in city bond funds for repairs and modernization, according to Mark Richwine, Tempe’s Parks and Recreation director.

“Approximately $1 million per park is basically what we’d be looking at,” Richwine said.

“Having a completed master plan helps us identify where there is need in Tempe. We still would have to look at where there is critical need,” he added.

Tempe voters in May approved $14 million in parks and recreation bonds. Tempe plans to budget approximately $8.6 million in bond-funded parks improvements over the next four fiscal years.

Richwine said the city plans to work on two parks per year, spending approximately $1 million on each park chosen for improvements.

At least three parks already have master plans on file and likely would be ahead of Goodwin and Scudder parks in the queue for bond funding, Richwine said.

That suggests it would be 2008 or 2009 before either of the south Tempe park improvement projects is started.

“Goodwin Park is among the top four most heavily used neighborhood parks for soccer, football, and softball practice in the city,” according to the Alta Mira Association’s application for grant funding.

Yet, playground equipment “is outdated, the picnic areas need improvement, and there is inadequate shade,” the application states. Also, the water fountain is broken, it notes.

The situation at the 4-acre Scudder Park is bleaker, judging by the grant application prepared by concerned residents.

“The park, once the jewel on the crown, now is sparse and unappealing. Dotted only with a few vandalized, graffiti-covered play structures that are unsafe and in serious disrepair, the park offers little to entice families,” the grant application states.

“A dilapidated park invites trouble,” the application warns. “Renovation of Scudder Park would encourage families to spend time there and allow neighbors to get to know one another, thus discouraging crime and vandalism.”

Richwine estimated it could take about six months to prepare master plans for the parks “if residents agree on what they want.”

What improvements are made depends on costs, he added.

For example, Scudder Park is flood-irrigated, but could be converted to turf irrigation if residents want, he said. However, a major project like converting to turf irrigation would eat up much of the budget for overall park improvements, he noted.

Scudder Park probably is past due for a makeover.

Tempe has 47 neighborhood/community parks, including such major facilities as Kiwanis Park. The city also maintains three sports complexes, two golf courses and a cemetery, Richwine noted.

Richwine said a neighborhood park has a lifecycle of about 25 years. Neighborhoods around the parks mature and standards for park safety improve over the years, he noted.

Tempe’s bond program is designed to overhaul the city’s parks within that 25-year lifecycle, he said.


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