Committee meets to save Mesa’s park train

[Source: Jim Ruiz, Mesa Republic] — The Save Our Train committee will meet Tuesday, July  at 6 p.m. in a continuing effort to raise funds to salvage a rusting, historic train at Pioneer Park.  The 1912 locomotive has been in the park since 1958, and played a big role in the childhood of thousands of Mesa’s residents.  But as it deteriorated over the years, it was fenced off for safety reasons.  The committee hopes to raise money to move the train to a different part of the park to give it more visibility, and to begin restoration work. The committee meets at the City’s Purchasing Department conference room, 20 E. Main Street.  The committee has applied for a $2,500 [Heritage Fund] grant from the Arizona Lottery and $50,000 from the Union Pacific Railroad Heritage Fund.

Take the Arizona Trail User Survey!

Click here to take the Arizona Trail User Survey.  This study is part of an effort to develop plans for the State Trails Program and the Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program.  The survey is being conducted by the Arizona State Parks Board and Arizona State University to ask for input into the trail planning process. 

Your participation in this survey is very important.  Your answers will help set priorities for trail management in Arizona, and help determine how a portion of the Heritage Fund and the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Recreation Fund should be spent.  The Heritage Fund comes from Lottery revenues and the OHV Fund comes from gasoline tax dollars.  Some of these funds go directly to provide recreational trail opportunities and facilities for all Arizona residents and visitors.

The survey will take approximately 15 – 20 minutes to complete.  Your answers to this survey are completely confidential. Your name will not be connected to your answers in any way.  Your participation in this survey is voluntary; however, you can help us very much by taking a few minutes to share your opinions.  Please forward this e-mail to other Arizonans interested in trails.  If you have questions about the survey, send an e-mail to Arizona State Parks.

El Mirage to break ground on 1st phase of $3 mil park

[Source: Lily Leung, Arizona Republic] — Construction of a $3 million park in El Mirage began this month and will be marked with a groundbreaking ceremony this week. Heritage Park, a two-phase city project, will sit on 13 acres south of Peoria Avenue, between El Mirage and Dysart roads.  The John F. Long Estate donated the acreage for the park, which is expected to be finished by January 2010.

The groundbreaking is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and the public is invited. “The city is committed to improving the quality of life for our residents,” El Mirage City Manager BJ Cornwall said.  “It will offer amenities for everyone in our community to enjoy.”

Half of the cost of the $1.5 million first phase will be paid for with help from the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund, for which $20 million of Arizona Lottery revenue is set aside annually to build and maintain parks, trails, natural, and historic areas and wildlife-conservation activities across the state.  The first phase of the park includes construction of a central pavilion for concerts and community events, amphitheater lawn seating, multiuse fields, a playground, and picnic areas.  The first phase is scheduled to be completed in January.  [Note: to read the full article, click here.]

Arizona’s 2008 legislative session: a marathon of missed opportunities

[Source: Grand Canyon Chapter, Sierra Club] — The 2008 Legislative Session is best characterized as too long with too little accomplished.  After 164 days -– the fourth longest on record -– there was little to point to in the positive column for environmental protection, and much time was wasted waiting for legislators to come to agreement on a budget, the only thing they absolutely have to do.  The Legislature missed a great opportunity to do something significant relative to energy efficiency and did little to promote renewable energy, but they did pass a bill to constrain Arizona’s ability to limit greenhouse gas emissions, a measure that was later vetoed.  “We were very disappointed that in the waning days of the legislative session, Senate leadership was unwilling to bring an important energy efficiency measure to the floor for a vote -– despite the fact that there was strong support for it,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director for the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter.  “At a time when we should be doing all we can to promote renewable energy and invest in energy efficiency, legislators instead focused on undercutting the Governor’s ability to work to limit climate change.”

Once again, the bad environmental legislation outweighed the good.  The worst of the environmental bills did not advance, however, and several bills were vetoed, including the terrible greenhouse gas bill.  A measure which would have undercut science-based wildlife management was defeated in the House Committee of the Whole early in the session, thanks to the efforts of Representative David Lujan and other members in the House.  Finally, while the budget will not promote a lot of environmental protection nor adequately fund implementation of key programs, the Legislature did refrain from raiding the Heritage Fund.  The Heritage Fund provides dollars for parks and wildlife.  No measures advanced to undercut the initiative process, but, unfortunately, a citizen initiative has been filed that will do so.  The Legislature also did not refer a measure to compete with the citizen initiative on conservation of state trust lands.  “We were happy to see a bill to help protect lands from off-road vehicle abuses advance through the process and be signed into law by the Governor,” said Bahr.  “The bill will provide dollars for law enforcement, mitigation, and restoration of public and private lands.  It can also help facilitate some needed closures of sensitive areas.  This was a small bright light in an otherwise lackluster session.”

Overall, at a time when the country is focusing on energy issues and the need to promote conservation, efficiency, and renewable sources, the Arizona Legislature came up short.  The lack of leadership and lackluster performance is reflected in the grades on this year’s report card.  In the Senate, there were eight senators who received failing grades and ten who earned a “D.”  In the House, 28 representatives — nearly half the body — failed, and another four got a “D.”  On a positive note, one senator and four representatives got an “A+,” which means they voted 100% pro-environment and also did not miss a vote on the key bills we scored.  One senator and 16 House members received an “A.”