Sedona city staff finds home for previously spent Arizona Heritage Fund grant money

[Source: Carl Jackson,] – At last night’s City Council meeting, newly appointed City Manager Timothy Ernster explained to the council staff’s plan to redeploy a $586,000 Heritage Fund grant given to the City by the Arizona State Parks in 1995-96 to invest in the now defunct Sedona Cultural Park.  The center piece of the park was a 5,000 seat amphitheater named after St. Louis Rams owner and accomplished soprano, Georgia Frontiere, who helped launch it in May, 2000 with a $1 million donation.  A requirement of the grant was that the site be available to the general public for outdoor recreation use for a period of 25 years, and be subject to periodic on-site inspections.

After the park filed for bankruptcy in 2003 and the grant money was lost, the City faced a quandary: return the grant to the Arizona State Parks or find another qualifying public use.  In 2004, the City of Sedona commissioned a feasibility study for a Sedona Performing Arts and Conference Center that ranked the Sedona Cultural Park first in the evaluation, but the project never moved forward.

Officials: Vandalism in Yuma parks cost taxpayers $200,000

[Source: Associated Press] — Officials say Yuma’s parks and recreation areas have seen a spike of vandalism in the past month.  Toilets are getting smashed, trees have been cut down, playground equipment is being taken apart, and even drinking fountains are being destroyed.  City spokesman Greg Hyland says there are about 80 drinking fountains throughout all the parks in Yuma and each one gets fixed about once a week — sometimes even daily.  Hyland says it cost city taxpayers more than $200,000 last year to repair property damage and clean up graffiti left behind by vandals.

Now with budget cuts, he says the city might not be able to fix everything at the parks, which are usually open daily from dawn to 11 p.m.  Since the parks belong to the community, city officials are asking for the public’s help in watching the parks more closely and reporting any acts of vandalism or graffiti they see.

Proposal would bring Yuma’s Quartermaster Depot under local control

[Source: Joyce Lobeck, Yuma Sun] — A new vision for Yuma Quartermaster Depot was proposed to the Yuma City Council that would return the historic attraction to local control and make it a true community park open at no charge to the public. The proposal was presented by Charles Flynn, executive director of the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area, who oversees the city’s efforts to redevelop the riverfront.

The idea came out of the uncertainty about the future of the park under Arizona State Parks, which has faced severe budget cutbacks.  Originally slated for closure earlier this year, the Yuma landmark was spared, but the days of operation were cut back. Flynn told the council he is concerned that reprieve may well be temporary in the face of the state’s budget deficit, now projected to be close to $4 billion.

If the state decides to close the park, that would come just as the riverfront redevelopment is finally coming to fruition with the recent opening of the Hilton Garden Inn and companion Pivot Point Conference, he said. “This is a critical component of riverfront development that is outside local control,” he said. The park provides green space and a historic attraction as well as a venue for special events.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Canceling Arizona Heritage Fund grants sends wrong message, says State Parks Board member

One of 36 casualties of Arizona State Parks Board decision to suspend Heritage Fund grants: renovation work at Great Arizona Puppet Theater in Phoenix (photo: jumpingnorman, Virtual Tourist)

[Source: Casey Newton, Arizona Republic] — …The [Arizona State Park] board’s decision to use local grant funds for operating expenses drew some criticism from members of the public. The board has canceled dozens of grants to communities around the state, including some for projects already under construction. “We’re angry with what’s happened to the… grants that were suspended,” said Janice Miano, executive director of the Arizona Heritage Alliance.

Board member Larry Landry said canceling grants to keep parks open sent the wrong message to the Legislature.  “We’re making it too easy for them to say we’re going to rape and kill every other program to keep parks open,” Landry said.  “If they’re going to take our money, they need to have consequences, too.”  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]