East Valley residents have one last chance to tell San Tan Mountains Regional Park planners which features they would like to see when the park’s master plan is submitted to the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors for approval.
An open house will be today near Queen Creek, the last of five such meetings since February. Attendees will get a look at the nearly finalized plan based on input from previous open houses.
Today’s discussion is likely to include several side issues, such as an 11th-hour proposal by Boy Scouts of America to place a youth campground in the park and a recently publicized mining claim that two prospectors have threatened to activate.
Boy Scouts architect Robby Reed met last week with the newly formed San Tan Park Committed Partners to finalize the youth campground’s layout. The partnership includes the Boy Scouts, Arizona Quest for Kids, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Arizona, Campfire Boys and Girls, Friendly House, Girls Scouts, Special Olympics Arizona, Queen Creek 4-H club and San Tan Mountains Pride.
Boy Scouts executive Larry Abbott said the campground would include 10 traditional campsites capable of housing 50 campers each, in addition to six "highadventure" sites set in a hilly area that could house 20 campers apiece.
Another hot topic is a notice of intent filed Aug. 29 by partners Alice Bates and Floyd Bleak to begin mining on two claims they hold inside the park, unless the county offers them a land swap. Bleak said he is looking for 1,000 to 1,200 acres of land near the park, or else he will bring in heavy equipment and start digging.
However, Maricopa County Supervisor Don Stapley, R-District 2 of Mesa, said officials don’t believe Bleak and Bates still have a right to mine the area.
"They’re way, years out of compliance," he said.
Still, Bleak said he has a letter from the U.S. Department of Interior upholding the duo’s right to mine, even though they haven’t done so in more than a decade.
Even if the claim holds up, it won’t delay the implementation of park improvements, Stapley said.
Final master plan update
When: 4 to 6 p.m. today
Where: Walker Butte Junior High School Cafeteria, 29697 N. Desert Willow Blvd., in northern Pinal County