Arizona Heritage Alliance opposes State Parks “sweep” of already-underway Heritage Fund grant projects

The following letter was sent to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer by Arizona Heritage Alliance Board President, Elizabeth Woodin:

March 26, 2009

The Honorable Jan Brewer
Governor, State of Arizona
1700 W. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85007

Dear Governor Brewer:

On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Heritage Alliance, I wish to commend you for signing the Executive Order of March 12, 2009 reestablishing the Governor’s Sustainable State Parks Task Force.  You have charged this group with a daunting, but necessary, task.  We can hope that they, with solid public input, develop and recommend some very innovative and workable solutions.

By way of background, the Alliance is comprised of hundreds of individuals, non-profit organizations, government entities, tribes, and businesses that work to educate the public and Alliance members about the Arizona Heritage Fund as well as protect the Fund’s integrity and effectiveness.

As you are aware, the Arizona Heritage Fund was voter-initiated in 1988 and approved by two-thirds of the electorate in 1990.  Backed with Arizona Lottery proceeds, the Fund is a nationally acclaimed “quality of life” and economic development tool that supports and protects our state’s parks, open space, wildlife habitat, environmental education, trails, historic and cultural sites, and public access to public land.  Since 1990, more than $338.5 million of Heritage Funds have been invested in preserving and enhancing an incredible array of natural, cultural, and recreational resources in every Arizona county and legislative district.  The economic multiplier factor brings that number up close to $1 billion.

Unfortunately, at a time of unprecedented financial shortfall, our state government approved this January:

  • Huge “sweeps” of numerous funds, including nearly $6 million in Arizona State Parks’ Heritage Funds.
  • A reallocation of $3 million of Heritage Funds to the Arizona State Lands Department for its Fire Suppression Fund, money that department officials said at a recent JLBC hearing they do not need.
  • Cancellation or suspension of $11.7 million worth of Heritage Fund projects in 25 Arizona communities already contracted for and underway ~ more than shovel-ready!

Regarding this last bullet point, dozens of private citizens, non-profit organizations, and local government and tribal officials have contacted the Alliance and expressed absolute frustration with the desperate and dismaying action taken by Arizona State Parks.  Many are “on the hook” with signed agreements they cannot keep without the funds, as well as half-restored and roofless historic properties, half-built park structures that are now an eyesore and possible safety hazard, and fragile archaeological artifacts that now are not in compliance with federal standards.  In addition, these projects help to bring in construction jobs and tourism dollars.  The multiplier effect of the economic impact of these projects to communities, urban and rural, is significant.

Although Arizona State Parks was backed into an untenable situation by the State Legislature’s removal of its funding, both General Fund and Heritage, its action to remove Heritage Fund monies from grantees is unprofessional and shameful.  This is no way to approach the celebration of Arizona’s Centennial in 2012.

These individuals, non-profits, municipalities, and tribes who followed the rules, dotted their “I’s” and crossed their “T’s,” were awarded and accepted grants in good faith from Arizona State Parks — only to have the money stripped away mid-stream.  Here are just a few examples:

  • Renovations to the “White Dove of the Desert,” San Xavier del Bac Mission in Tucson
  • Improvements to the Ed Hooper Rodeo Grounds in Casa Grande
  • Over $600,000 of upgrades to Bullhead City’s Rotary Soccer Field
  • Stabilization of the historic Sullivan Building in Jerome
  • Roof repairs to the historic structure now home to the Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix

And there are many other examples as outlined in the attached list compiled by Arizona State Parks staff.

Recommendations to reconcile $11.7 million in rescinded Arizona Heritage Fund grants:

  • Several of your colleagues in the State Legislature agree that the $3 million in Fire Suppression Funds should be returned, and we are working with them to make that happen. When returned to Arizona State Parks, the funds should be directed to complete the “suspended” grant projects.
  • While there will not be an Arizona Heritage Fund grant cycle in 2009, there will be a $10 million allotment from the Arizona Lottery to Arizona State Parks.  That $10 million can also be directed to the “suspended” grant projects.

What is not a long-term solution to replenish “swept” Arizona Heritage Funds and Arizona State Park operating funds is HB2088.  It borrows from another voter-initiated, passed, and protected fund in ways that Arizona voters did not approve.  As the Arizona Heritage Fund is similar in concept, the Arizona Heritage Alliance cannot support HB2088.  In addition to “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” many consider the actions recommended in HB2088 to be unconstitutional which could bring about an expensive, lengthy, and divisive legal challenge.

We would welcome the opportunity to sit down with you and members of your staff to discuss these and other options available.  We can also offer you a tour of several “swept” Heritage Fund projects, which will make you feel even more proud to be an Arizonan.

Thank you for your consideration in this matter and for your commitment to serve Arizona.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth T. Woodin
President

Noted Arizona historian, Noel Stowe, has passed away

Professor Noel Stowe, a member of the Arizona Heritage Alliance since 1994, came to Arizona State University in 1967, after receiving his B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and teaching briefly at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In 1978, he became the History Department’s director of graduate study. In his eight years in that position he expanded the master’s and doctoral degree programs and founded the Public History Program, which under his direction achieved national and international recognition. He directed more than fifty graduate theses and dissertations. His students have gone on to direct public history programs at other universities, and to work in museums, historical societies, and archives across the country.

In 1987, Stowe became assistant dean of the Graduate College, and in 1991 he became associate dean. He promoted ASU’s participation in national projects funded by the Pew Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation. He was dedicated to improving the graduate experience of students throughout the university and to promoting the admission and success of minority students. After a year as interim dean, he returned to the history department, which he chaired from 1998 to 2006. Stowe was also a productive scholar, with three books and more than a dozen articles published. He directed grant-funded projects of more than $1 million.

At ASU, his achievements in teaching and service were recognized with the Faculty Achievement Award, the Gary S. Krahenbuhl Difference Maker Award, the Faculty Appreciation Award, and the History Associates Award. Stowe worked tirelessly on the national stage to broaden the opportunities for historians beyond the walls of the university. He was one of the founders of the National Council on Public History and served as its president in 1985-86. He had represented NCPH as a delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies since 2005.

Stowe became active in the Oral History Association in the 1980s. He was a member of the Executive Board of the Southwest Oral History Association from 1989 to 1994 and its resident in 1992-93. He was a lifetime member of the Organization of American Historians. He participated in the work of the American Historical Association  as a member of the Committee on Redefining Scholarly Work in 1992-94; as a participant in the AHA’s Wingspread Group on the Future of the History Master’s Degree in 2005; and as a member of the Task Force on Public History from 2001-2005. He worked on the Program Committee for the American Association for State and Local History from 2002 to 2007.

Stowe was a westerner and had lived in the Phoenix area for more than forty years. His interest in Arizona history led to contributions far beyond the ASU campus. He was a member of both the state and local boards of the Arizona Historical Society and helped establish Friends of Arizona Archives, serving as their vice president and as a member of their advisory board. His work with the Coordinating Council for History in Arizona enhanced both training and the exchange of expert knowledge among workers in Arizona cultural institutions. He was a member of the Arizona Historical Advisory Commission and was particularly excited about the coming centennial of statehood, having organized a conference for the seventy-fifth anniversary that resulted in the publication of “Arizona at Seventy-Five: the Next Twenty-Five Years (1987),” which he co-edited. In August 2008, he and a team of researchers received a National Endowment for the Humanities planning grant to design and implement “Becoming Arizona, an online encyclopedia of Arizona history, culture, politics, economics and other topics as a Centennial project. He worked closely with the Arizona Humanities Council, who presented him with the Friend of the Humanities Award in 2004. In June 2008 he received the Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award. When he and his family moved to Chandler, he helped found the public history program and the city museum.

Stowe is survived by his wife, Gwen. Their son, James, died in 2007. He and his family request that donations in his memory be made to The Noel J. and Gwen J. Stowe Public History Endowment, 40-A-MLHS0003, to support scholarly activities in public history in the Department of History, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arizona State University, Tempe campus.

Arizona rural tourism development grant program guidelines now available!

The Rural Tourism Development Grant Program (RTDGP) guidelines for FY09 are now available.  The objective of this competitive grant program is to provide coordinated funding for tourism related infrastructure projects in rural communities throughout the state.  The funding amount for FY09 is $500,000.  These funds assist rural economic development through tourism to strengthen the regional and local economies and expand tourism in rural and Tribal communities throughout Arizona.  The primary function of the infrastructure project must be tourism development and the project must be designed to initiate economic growth and enhance future tourism development.  Eligible entities include not-for-profits, government organizations and tribal government.

New for FY09!  Projects that contain an Arizona centennial component will receive priority funding.  A detailed description of the criteria will be included in the FY09 guidelines and projects must comply with these guidelines to be considered a centennial project.  The FY09 RTDGP Guidelines define centennial projects as:

  • Projects that include restoration of historic properties appropriate for use in the observance of the Arizona Centennial.
  • Projects that provide a sense of unity and pride by accentuating the diverse nature of the State’s tourist destinations.

Applications are available on AOT’s business-to-business Web site www.azot.gov under the Grants section.  Applications must be received by AOT no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, October 15, 2008.  If you have any questions, please contact Glenn Schlottman, Tourism Education and Development Manager at 602-364-3727 or via e-mail at gschlottman@azot.gov.  For information on the Arizona Centennial please contact Karen Churchard at 602-364-4158 or via e-mail at kchurchard@azot.gov.