Santa Cruz County soccer field grant to go unfunded

[Source: Kathleen Vandervoet, Santa Cruz Valley Sun] — An $85,503 Arizona Heritage Fund grant award announced nearly a year ago to add a soccer field, bleachers and shade structures to Robert Damon Park in Rio Rico was cancelled by Arizona State Parks.  All grants on which work had not started were cancelled in February by the State Parks board as a result of budget reductions by the Legislature.

On Sept. 22, some statewide Heritage Fund grants that had been suspended in February were reinstated, said Mary Dahl, Santa Cruz County Community Development Director.  She said the Joint Legislative Budget Committee reviewed a proposal by Arizona State Parks and gave a favorable response to re-instating suspended grants.  But grants that were cancelled in February, including the one for the Damon Park, did not get funded.

In Rio Rico, the grant’s purpose was to help pay for a soccer field at the 22-acre public park where there are two baseball fields.  Damon Park is west of Interstate 19 and south of Yavapai Drive.  The money was also to be used to build bleachers and add shade structures over the existing playground equipment, Dahl said.  Dahl wrote to Gov. Jan Brewer in late February to no avail.  In the letter, Dahl said a groundbreaking ceremony was held last December and recognition was given to the late Ramon Inzunza, a resident who passed away before realizing his dream of having a public soccer field in Rio Rico.

The total cost for the project was estimated at $171,006 and the county’s matching portion was to be $76,003.  Others who planned to contribute about $9,500 were: Rio Rico Properties Inc., Rio Rico Utilities, Rio Rico Rotary Club, Farmer’s Insurance, Linda and Walter Lewis, Backflow Technologies, and Joe and Lori Adamson.

Federal stimulus funds can be used for parks & recreation, says NRPA

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is touting a major victory for communities across America in the negotiations over the economic stimulus bill that is to be considered by both houses of Congress.  In the language agreed by House and Senator conferees, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will allow communities to use funding from programs such as Community Development Block Grants, transportation infrastructure, and the Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund to support community parks.  Without the work of NRPA members and staff, the bill would have explicitly restricted communities from using these funds to support parks and recreation.  

Read how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will benefit parks and recreation.  For more information, call or e-mail Mike Phillips or Ashley Futrell, 202-887-0290.

Obama stimulus plan sparks questions over short-term impact

[Source: Mike Sunnucks, The Phoenix Business Journal] — As Congress moves on President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, critics are voicing concerns about where the money is being spent and whether it will have a quick payoff.  The $825 billion package could swell to $1 trillion and looks to pump up the economy via federal spending on public works construction, energy research, aid to state governments with budget deficits, expanded welfare and safety net programs.

One estimate by the Congressional Budget Office said only $26 billion would be allocated this year on infrastructure and public works spending as states and cities, including Scottsdale, Goodyear, Tucson, Phoenix and Mesa, line up projects for possible funding.  Meanwhile, local officials say federal requirements to have construction and infrastructure projects “shovel-ready” is limiting such requests.  Gay Garesche, an economics professor at Glendale Community College, said the U.S. economy may be rebounding by the time the federal stimulus money gets to construction projects and starts to work its way into economic benefits.  “That stimulus isn’t going to hit until the economy has almost recovered,” said Garesche. Instead, she suggests continued help for banks to free up credit and loans and avoiding any actions that hurt the U.S. auto market.  [Note: to read the full article, click here.]