Mesa sharing plans to improve parks across city - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Mesa sharing plans to improve parks across city

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Posted: Sunday, May 6, 2012 8:12 am | Updated: 12:03 pm, Mon May 7, 2012.

Mesa will begin testing the waters this month on a parks and recreation improvement package that could lead to the first major upgrades in the city since voters approved a bond package in 1996.

The plan involves parks various projects across the city including the historic Buckhorn Baths, expanding parks in east Mesa and making Riverview Park a signature park. The proposal could lead to Mesa asking voters to approve bonds this fall.

The proposals have traveled an unusual path before they go before residents starting May 9. Rather than being formulated by city employees, residents came up with the proposals through the city’s iMesa initiative to identify transformative projects.

The city hasn’t identified the cost to any of the projects, said Andrea Moore, a parks planning and development supervisor. Mesa first wants to hear more from residents to gauge their interest in the initial package.

“We’re wanting to get comments on the concepts that are on paper, what people think about the specific amenities, whether those are things people support or whether they suggest changes,” Moore said.

Mesa voters last approved bonds for park improvements in 1996. Voters rejected two separate bond questions in March and September of 2000. While voters passed a 2004 bond package for land acquisition, the city never went forward with the purchases.

The Mesa City Council has discussed the possibility of a November bond election, and is watching the meetings before deciding whether to place anything on the ballot.

Some city parks have had minor upgrades over the years, but Moore said the iMesa process showed residents are feeling a need to upgrade aging parks. She estimates it would take 5-7 years to complete whatever might be in a bond package. Some improvements would likely have to come in other phases and occur years later, she said.

“Considering how long it’s been without a bond package like this, I don’t think we’d be able to fund everything as a high priority,” Moore said.

The proposals include developing an urban Riverview Park adjacent to the $99 million Chicago Cubs spring training complex that will open in 2014. Because the complex will take out park space developed with federal funds, the city is required to replace the space elsewhere in the city.

The required replacement would be developed on city-owned land at the northeast corner of Signal Butte and Elliot roads. The city envisions paths, soccer fields a dog park and other elements. The city is considering several other east Mesa parks.

The plan includes a regional aquatics center at Mesa High School, renovating Pioneer Park and creating a west Mesa regional sports complex at Kleinman park and Mesa Junior High. Also, the city is exploring an urban plaza north of City Hall, as well as irrigation, playground and lighting improvements elsewhere.

The projects are listed at www.mesaaz.gov/parksrec/Parks_Development.

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