It has been 18 years and 102 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
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Tom Traw of the Yucca district and Norma Alvarez of the Ocotillo district have joined forces and are calling for Yucca and Ocotillo district residents tired of seeing a dirt and weed filled park. They are calling on all Yucca and Ocotillo residents to go to the next Glendale City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 12,2016 at Glendale City Hall in the Council Chambers. I applaud their effort. I plan to attend that evening.
There is more than one issue to be concerned about but we’ll get to the others later. Let’s talk Heroes Park first. The park is 88 acres and classified as a city regional park. The only other regional parks in Glendale are Thunderbird Park and Sahuaro Ranch Park. They are completed and convenient to those who live in central or north Glendale. The city plan for Heroes Park calls for:
- A permanent 35,000 SF branch library to serve residents to the south and west of Grand Avenue. The current proposal to place a 7,500 SF modular building to serve as a branch library is a travesty. It will be 1/5 the size of the Foothills Branch Library (35,000 SF) and half the size of Velma Teague Branch Library in Murphy Park (approximately 15,000 SF). It removes the city’s urgent need to fulfill its commitment to build a permanent West Branch Library at Heroes Park.
- A major recreation and aquatics center similar to Foothills Recreation and Aquatic Center.
- An urban fishing lake.
- Ball fields.
- A dog park
What is in the park now? Several basketball courts (heavily used and loved), a zero depth
splash pad, a tot lot with some tables and benches, a closed and abandoned X Court (for inline skating) and ramadas (for rent). That’s it. The balance of 66 acres sits desolate with dirt and tumbleweeds.
This park has been in the city’s plans since approximately 1988, over 18 years. In 1998 this
park was on the verge of disappearing. The city seriously considered selling the park land to a developer for nearly 500 homes. It took a massive show of citizens objecting to the sale to save this park. Over the years former Mayor Scruggs and the councilmembers who supported her have played games with this park and at her direction, along with a majority of councilmembers in 2006, $6 million for park development was diverted to complete the construction of the Regional Public Safety Training Facility. The most recent threat to this park’s development, prior to the Great Recession, was the city’s plan to build a new City Court House. Any money earmarked for the park would have been diverted to build the court house.
Since the Great Recession a plea to finish this park with its planned amenities has met the continual city mantra of we have no money. Oh really? The city could find $32 million
instantly to buy the land and to build parking to satisfy the Cardinals. They had to fulfill their contractual obligation to the Cardinals and so the parking will be constructed. Yet they can’t seem to find money to finish this park.
What other issues face the residents of the Yucca and Ocotillo districts? One is O’Neil Park’s swimming pool. Several years ago leaks were discovered and the pool was closed and has been closed ever since. It has disenfranchised over 2,000 children who live in the square mile from Camelback Road to Bethany Home Road, 59th Avenue to 67th Avenue. It has the densest population per square mile of any square mile in the city. That square mile contains over 1300 homes and is ringed by 10 apartment complexes. Swimming pools per home is one of the lowest in the city. If I remember correctly, there is one residential pool for every 10 homes in that square mile. When we lived in that square mile we had no pool and our family relied heavily on the use of O’Neil pool.
Now the city wants to bulldoze the pool and “repurpose the land.” The city has a solemn obligation to repair or rebuild O’Neil pool. In the Capital Improvement Plan one of the criteria for deciding the merit of a project is the city’s obligation to repair and remediate existing city infrastructure. That is exactly what O’Neil pool is, existing city infrastructure.
The last issue of importance for the Yucca and Ocotillo districts is Jake Long’s (son of deceased John F. Long) request to put over 1,100 homes on the farm land between the Grand Canal Linear Park and Camelback Road, 83rd Avenue to 91st Avenue. The plan’s housing proposal is too dense and many of the homes are requested to be built on 5,500 square foot lots. The city’s minimum single family lot size is R1-6, 6,000 square feet. Typically lots smaller than 6,000 square feet are reserved for attached homes and not for a single family home. Why would the city accept such a plan? Because it’s Jake Long asking? Because that’s all that this part of town merits? I fought this fight the entire time I was on council and succeeded many times. For example under my leadership, Rovey Farm Estates’ smallest lots on its west boundary at 91st Avenue are 8,000 square feet and lots on the east boundary on 83rd Avenue are from 1/3 of an acre to an acre. Missouri Ranch has a minimum lot size of 10,000 square feet and sits on the eastern boundary of the proposed Long development project. There are many streets in this area adjacent to the proposed development whose homes are on one acre lots with horse privileges. None of these residents are happy about having small, residential lots adjacent to them.
By now you should be angry and disgusted. I know that I am. These two districts, Yucca and Ocotillo deserve better treatment and a renewed laser-like focus by the city. No longer should we shrug our shoulders. It’s time we spoke out and demanded better. It’s time.
Think about it. Somewhere between 100 and 150 people showed up to oppose the sale of the Foothills Branch Library and they succeeded. An equal number of citizens showed up to protest Becker Billboards’ proposal to erect billboards in north Glendale. They, too, succeeded. A show of force, a show of citizens will cause city council to react.
Please plan to attend the Tuesday, April 12, 2016 meeting of the city council at 6 P.M. Citizen Comments are offered at the beginning of each city council meeting. You do not have to speak unless you wish to do so. Comments are limited to 3 minutes per individual. So take the time to plan your remarks. Others will be there to speak. We need numbers…hundreds of residents to show that we stand behind the speakers to these issues. Please commit an hour or two that night to back up the speakers and to demonstrate to city council that there are a lot of people who want this council to pay attention to and to fulfill commitments made. Please email Tom Traw at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Norma Alvarez at 623-934-0734 to let them know that you plan to attend and to support your district.
There are strong reasons to show your support:
- Are you tired of a dirt and weed filled park that has languished for over 18 years?
- Are your children now adults but when you moved here counted on a park and library for their enjoyment? A park and library that never came. An entire generation of children has grown up without benefit of Heroes Park and its branch library.
- Are you tired of the city’s neglect of your neighborhood? Whether it’s code enforcement or poor streets or lack of maintenance of city infrastructure?
- Are you tired of the city’s inaction and failure to fix O’Neal pool?
- Are you tired of the city’s acceptance of proposed residential projects that do nothing to preserve your property values?
- Are you tired of the city’s acceptance of proposed dense, residential projects filled with small homes on even smaller lot sizes?
- Are you tired of the neglect that has become pervasive in the Yucca and Ocotillo districts?
Then please join us Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 6 P.M. at City Hall Council Chambers (at the intersection of 59th Avenue and Grand Avenue) for a show of force. Citizens are advised not to clap or shout during the meeting. The practice has become to raise your hands high when you approve of a speaker’s message. We will not be the silent majority any longer. We will make our presence known and our voices heard. I will be there. Will you?
Glendale City Council meeting
Tuesday, April 12, 2016 at 6 P.M.
Glendale City Hall Council Chambers
At the intersection of Grand Ave. and 59th Ave.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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