La Verne residents are lobbying Phoenix to restore and improve the park that stretches nearly 6 miles along the flood control corridor.
“There’s a lot of irrigation that doesn’t work, so there’s no grass, just dust,” said Rebecca Pereira, who has been working to get the city to improve its parks, where she regularly bikes with her family.
“In addition to being unsightly, it can cause a lot of problems. It can cause a lot of dust storms, asthma and air quality problems,” she said.
While Pereira and others have been spurred into action by the possibility of Phoenix’s 2023 general obligation bond program being funded, it now looks unlikely Their proposal will receive bond funding this cycle. But residents still want the city to prioritize long-awaited maintenance, which Pereira calls a “true gem” in La Verne.
“It’s an urban park, but I don’t think they’re going to treat it as an urban park,” she said.
Completed in 2005, the Laveen Area Transit Access stretches approximately 5.8 miles from 43rd Avenue to the Salt River near the intersection of 78th Avenue and the Key Line. It was created by the County Flood Control District, Phoenix and Salt River projects for flood management and recreational use. Phoenix is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the park.
During the development of the channel, city officials envisioned it as a scaled-down version of the Scottsdale Indian Bend Wash, with scenic hiking trails, horse trails and parks running along both sides of the wash.
This vision was never fully realized, and now Much of the once grassy area around the passage has been turned into dirt. Erosion makes cycling a challenge, and there are traffic lights at street intersections with only one road.
Perrera and other residents want the city to implement safe pedestrian crossings, plant trees, restore irrigation and landscaping, and provide shade, benches, exercise equipment and lighting — especially in the tunnels below the 202 South Mountain Freeway.
They hope to use $4.9 million of the $500 million in general obligation bonds issued to voters next year to make those upgrades.
The bond program is designed to fund infrastructure and public utility repairs. If voters approve the bond issue, the city will take on debts to fund capital improvements and repay those debts with property taxes. Phoenix doesn’t expect to have to raise property taxes to support the $500 million bond program.
It’s the first time the program has been used in 16 years, but city officials say they will apply for a general obligation bond every five years going forward.
Support Park Rehabilitation
A city council meeting began in August to narrow down the list of projects that should be prioritized for bond financing. Through these meetings, a list of recommendations will be presented to the city council later this year.
Since those meetings began, more than 30 people have commented on behalf of improving the Laveen transit channel, according to city records.
Laveen Village Planning Committee deputy chair Linda Abegg said the project was a good fit for the bond scheme because it was a one-time application for funding.
“Let’s get it back where it should be and then use normal budget funds to maintain it,” Abegg said.
But during the bond prioritization process, the transit corridor project has been identified as a “future funding need,” meaning it may not be presented to the city council as a project that should receive bond funding in 2023.
But supporters of Pereira and other transport channel projects are still advocating for funding.
Pereira hopes the project will be added to the bond proposal by the city council, which has the power to veto the list of proposals.
“Any councillor can ask for a change,” said Assemblyman Yassamin Ansari, who represents District 7. But, she said, the city’s recommendation process is designed to be “a good place for everyone to be happy.” and. “
Ansari said the committee has been advised against increasing the $500 million amount because some economists are predicting a recession next year and higher price tags will require higher property taxes.
Even though the Laveen Passage project did not receive bond funding this cycle, residents’ efforts have helped, Ansari said, “it demonstrates a need to help our city council and city staff identify other ways to support.”
“I think we might be able to start picking some low-hanging fruit,” she said. According to Ansari, funding for retrofits such as trash cans, more lighting, trees and shade could come from the city’s general fund or the parks department’s capital budget.
Concerns about the condition of the canal go back at least to 2014, when there were already problems with erosion and irrigation disruptions.
“It seems to keep getting pushed down the road,” said Daniel Penton, a La Verne resident who has been an advocate for park maintenance. Penton said he watches the channel with his partner three times a week.
He said the park has yet to receive the funding it needs to reach its potential.
“From the walking trail, there aren’t many places where you can see the three mountains — South Mountain, Estrela and White Tank — and people should be able to experience that,” Penton said. “It’s supposed to be the community. pride, people should feel safe, which they simply aren’t.”
The South Hills and La Verne Chamber of Commerce and the La Verne Elementary School District also supported the restoration of transportation channels.
For the Chamber of Commerce, maintaining the park is a matter of landscaping, said Joe Roselle, who also serves as the Chamber’s president and the district’s community engagement coordinator.
“Transit corridors look abandoned,” he said. “With more development, with housing and businesses, we want our neighborhoods to be in the best shape to continue to grow. We feel like it’s going to hold us back. ”
From the district’s perspective, Roselle is concerned with safety and health issues. He pointed to poor channel light and cracked sidewalks, as well as dust being blown into the neighborhood. Two schools in the area – Desert Meadows and Rogers Ranch – are located along the Channel.
Abegg from the Laveen Village Planning Committee rode the family bike down the Channel to Crumbl Cookies and Scooptacular for dessert. She said parks are a huge asset to the community.
“LaVine needs to maintain the same standards as the rest of Phoenix, and they need to prioritize issues,” she said.
Madeleine Parrish reports south of Phoenix for the Arizona Republic. Connect with her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @maddieparrish61.