It has been 18 years and 21 days since the city’s pledge to build the West Branch Library.
In 1990 Glendale’s population was approximately 151,449. Two years later, in 1992, Glendale implemented a full council district system of representation with 6 council districts of approximately equal populations. At that time each district would have had about 30,000 residents. The geographical size of the districts varied to accommodate equal population distribution.
A little history is in order. In the late 1970’s to mid 1980’s the Hunt brothers, billionaires from Texas, had acquired most of the land we know today as Arrowhead. They intended to master plan and develop the entire area. In support of their plan Glendale built a water treatment plant to accommodate the anticipated population growth. Disaster struck. The Hunt brothers attempted to corner the precious metals market, especially silver. Paul Volker, Chairman of the Federal Reserve, brought their scheme to an end and by the late 1980’s the brothers were convicted of manipulating the market.
What was Glendale to do? It had invested a great deal of money in a water treatment plant now sitting idle. It took on the task of master planning the area and investing millions in developing the infrastructure of the area while ignoring the needs of the rest of the city. It also reserved a substantial parcel of land for what would become Foothills Park. It paid the Hunt brothers for the water treatment plant it had built. In essence Glendale paid twice for the very same plant.
Developers began building homes in the area. With the mayor of Glendale residing in the Arrowhead area it didn’t take long for resources to flow into development of Foothills Park and within 8 years the area also had its branch library, the Foothills Library. In 1998 the Foothills Aquatic & Recreation Center and the Western Area Regional Park had been placed on the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
By 1998 the city has made a commitment to a Recreation & Aquatic Center in Foothills Park and the development of the Western Area Regional Park (known today at Heroes Park) with a branch library, its very own Recreation & Aquatic Center, baseball fields, an urban fishing lake, a dog park, ramadas, basketball courts and a skate area. By 2007 Foothills Park had its Recreation & Aquatic Center. What did the Western Area Regional Park have? It had $6 million dollars diverted from building its branch library to building the Public Safety Center. It had some basketball courts and a
zero splash pad. The skate area and ramadas were built after 2007. The skate area sits idle…vacant…growing tumbleweeds. The ramadas were built because they generate rental income. They are used heavily. Since its arrival in 1998 on the city’s CIP there is no branch library, no Recreation & Aquatic Center, no baseball fields, no urban fishing lake, and no dog park. Only 20 acres of the total park acreage of 88 acres has been developed.
Make no mistake…I am as mad as hell. Over the past 18 years there has been a deliberate and concerted agenda by previous city councils to ignore the development of this park. Today with the exception of Mayor Weiers and Councilmember Turner it remains ignored and neglected. Through Mayor Weiers effort to call attention to this park this year 83rd Avenue north of Bethany Home Road (the western boundary of the park) will see road improvements in the form of curb, gutter and sidewalk. A bone to be sure but it is something. At some point a modular building will be erected, one tenth the size of the planned branch library, to serve as this area’s library. Another bone to be sure.
Senior staff is also responsible. This park is not part of their agenda either. When the city very recently decided to buy the Pendergast land for $22 million dollars not surprisingly Tom Duensing, Interim
Assistant City Manager and Director of Finance, found the debt capacity to accomplish this purchase. When it comes to this park’s development he wrings his hands and says there is no money and no debt capacity. I call on him to be financially creative and to find a way to increase the city’s debt capacity to cause further development of this park. I call on this city council to make meaningful development of this park a priority. One sixth of the city’s population remains ill served without any of the amenities that can be found throughout the rest of the city. To this day only 20
acres of the total park acreage of 88 acres has been developed. It is a travesty, shameful and embarrassing that the city has a major, regional park three quarters of which grows tumbleweeds.
© Joyce Clark, 2015
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