Arizona State Parks board puts off decision on closing parks

Rick Fernau, mayor of Show Low, attended the Parks Board meeting to protest the cancellation of a grant that was to be used to create a park (Photo: Daniel Newhauser)

[Source: Daniel Newhauser, Cronkite News Service] — With one round of legislative budget cuts behind him and more looming, Arizona State Parks Executive Director Ken Travous said Friday that heart-wrenching decisions eventually will need to made about closing parks.  “Right now, were having to decide which of our children we’re going to feed,” he told members of the Arizona State Parks Board. “And they’re all my children.”

Board members decided Friday to wait on adding to three parks already shuttered until the Legislature determines how much it plans to cut from the Arizona State Parks’ budget for the fiscal year beginning in July.  However, the board granted the agency authority to limit park hours by up to two full days per week if necessary. After trimming operations and cutting grants for parks, trails and historic preservation, the agency has enough money to operate remaining parks if lawmakers don’t cut anything, Travous said.  But it would be a pipe dream to think they won’t, he added.  Travous said he expects cuts of up to $12 million for fiscal 2010 against a total budget of around $23 million.

Meanwhile, the board unanimously agreed to support HB 2088, sponsored by Rep. Warde Nichols, R-Chandler, which would help prevent park closures by temporarily reallocating money from the Growing Smarter Fund voters created in 1998 to conserve land.  That legislation, which would require a three-quarters vote from both chambers, was awaiting a final vote in the House.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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.

Arizona Legislature’s funding sweep could doom Bullhead City parks projects

Rotary Park, Bullhead City

[Source: Neil Young, Mohave Daily News] — The city of Bullhead City could be left holding the bag if the state of Arizona pulls grant funding from a park improvement project already under way.  In scrambling to close a $1.6 billion budget deficit, state legislators are “sweeping” dollars from various funds, including the State Lake Improvement Funds (SLIF) and the Local, Regional and State Parks (LRSP) Heritage Fund.  Bullhead City relies heavily on grant funding for its park improvements.  “What Arizona State Parks (Department) told me,” said Karla Brady, Bullhead City’s interim parks, recreation and community services director, “the state is coming in and as of Feb. 28, taking… funding and that included already-awarded grants, which was unexpected.”

Several Bullhead City park projects would be affected, Brady said.  State Parks officials told her “only expenses incurred through Feb. 1 would be reimbursable.  I could request reimbursement within the next week or two, but basically, no more work could be done under a grant project.”

The Rotary Park north beach renovation project already is in progress. Work is being performed by Larry D. Builders, which was awarded a $454,000 contract.  “It could leave us with a liability of $224,000 in SLIF funding that we would not be able to get,” Brady said.  Finding that much money is next to impossible; Bullhead City has instituted job freezes and laid off employees due to lack of funds.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]