33rd Annual Arizona Forward Environmental Excellence Awards

Arizona Heritage Alliance Board Members: Jim McPherson, Elizabeth Woodin, Sam Campana, Janice Miano, Matt Fesko, Thom Hulen & Bonnie Bariola.

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, TriValleyCentral.com] – More that 100 entries were received in this year’s competition, demonstrating the priority of sustainable design and development in Arizona. Categories for submissions were: Buildings and structures, livable communities, site development and landscape, art in public places, environmental technologies, environmental education/communication, and environmental stewardship.

Arizona Forward initiated the Environmental Excellence Awards in 1980 to recognize outstanding contributions to the physical environment of our local communities.  The program has grown significantly and now serves as a benchmark for promoting livability, conserving natural resources and sustaining our unique desert environment for future generations.

Janice Miano, executive director of the Heritage Alliance, was the recipient of Arizona Forward’s Award of Merit for Environmental Stewardship (SRP Award). The Arizona Heritage Alliance continues its efforts to get the Arizona State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund restored.

The Arizona Heritage Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created in 1992 to protect Arizona’s Heritage Fund and its objectives. It is guided by a board of directors drawn from a broad base of outdoor sports, environmental conservation, and historic preservation organizations that helped pass the 1990 statewide voter initiative creating the Heritage Fund. After numerous state legislative attempts, unfortunately during extreme difficult economic times, in 2009 the Legislature was successful in eliminating one-half of the Heritage Fund.

Since that time, Janice has lead the Heritage Alliance Board of Directors and others, both organizations and individuals, working to persuade the Legislature to restore the funds and the statutory language which also had been removed. She has worked with a growing coalition of groups like Arizona Forward, the Sierra Club, Arizona Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, the State Parks Foundation, the Historic Preservation Foundation and many others as well as with many concerned individuals to come up with other ways of fulfilling the promise of the Heritage Fund and Arizona State Parks.

Janice has left no stone unturned in the search for a way to recover the lost ability of citizens to enhance and protect the historic, natural, and recreational values lost during that dark, closed-door budget-balancing session in 2009.

Editor’s Note: Bonnie Bariola represents the Florence Preservation Foundation on the Heritage Alliance Board of Directors and holds the office of treasurer for the organization.

1891 Pinal County courthouse recognized for excellence in preservation

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, TriValleyCentral.com] – The 1891 Second Pinal County Courthouse Rehabilitation collected another honor Saturday as it received the Crescordia Award for Buildings and Structures/Historic Preservation. “We are so pleased to receive this recognition from Arizona Forward and from Governor Brewer,” Pinal County Board of Supervisors’ Chairman Steve Miller said. “Not only is it a functional county office building, it’s also a tourist attraction. Practically every business day we have tourists and history buffs stop in to see the building. They all remark about how wonderful it is to see this significant landmark restored and in use.”

The 33rd Annual Environmental Excellence Awards were presented Saturday at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale. Arizona Forward’s membership is diverse and includes Arizona’s most prominent large corporations and small businesses, municipalities and other government agencies, educators, nonprofits, and a host of concerned citizens. A professional panel of judges identified a maximum of two Awards of Merit and one coveted First-Place Crescordia winner in each category.

Arizona Forward’s members focus on a balance between environmental quality and economic vitality, helping to ensure that decisions about how residents will live tomorrow are made with foresight and imagination today. The courthouse was built in 1891 and is a remarkable example of the American-Victorian style of 19th-century construction technology on the Southwestern frontier. The courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is considered one of Arizona’s most irreplaceable historic properties. It is believed to be Arizona’s oldest government building in use today.

To rehabilitate it to serve as a modern office building for the Pinal County Board of Supervisors was no small task. Extensive planning and creative design were paramount to the sensitive integration of sustainable materials and high efficiency mechanical, plumbing, electrical and life-safety systems. Some of the key environmentally-friendly features include reused and recycled bricks, flooring, doors and windows; retrofitted original window frames with insulated low-emissivity glass; filtered roller shades to maximize daylight; strategically placed trees to maximize natural ventilation; low-water-use plumbing fixtures; and high-efficiency water heaters and lighting features, as well as a programmable lighting system. The 1891 courthouse is a physical reminder of the early development and maturation of Pinal County and is a symbol of pride to county residents and Florence. The courthouse attracts thousands of visitors each year, significantly benefiting local businesses.

Governor Jan Brewer awarded the renovation of the Historic 1891 Courthouse the grand prize at the Governor’s 2013 Historic Preservation Conference in June. Brewer and the Arizona Historic Advisory Commission had selected the courthouse renovation as a Centennial Legacy Project to celebrate Arizona’s statehood centennial in 2012.

Pinal County has compiled extensive documentation on the courthouse project and the history and lore of the building. To find out more about one of Arizona’s most distinctive historic public buildings, visit http://goo.gl/b9PRX.

New Statewide Coalition Rallies For Parks and Open Space

[Source: Christie Silverstein, Arizona Forward, 2/21/2012] – A statewide coalition of business and environmental organizations rallied today at the State Capitol in support of legislation to bolster the financial condition of Arizona State Parks. The lead organizations were Arizona Forward, a statewide business association, and the Arizona State Parks Foundation, backed by 300 other business, environmental and community organizations. Arizona Forward was launched on Aug. 31 with the release of  “Why Parks and Open Space Matter – the Economics of Arizona’s Natural Assets,” a comprehensive examination of the status of Arizona efforts to preserve the outdoor environment. After releasing the primer, Arizona Forward was contacted by parks stakeholders around the state to help form an advocacy coalition.

The immediate purpose of the capitol rally is to show support for HB 2362, a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Karen Fann, R‐Prescott, with 22 other sponsors in the House and Senate. The bill would protect the income earned by state parks through entrance fees and other user charges from legislative budget sweeps. Brian Martyn, a Pinal County supervisor and Parks Foundation board member, said the Fann bill is vitally important to state parks in trying to meet business goals. “Like any business, state parks need incentives to meet its objectives, including the assurance that using best business practices will contribute to the financial success of the parks system,” said Martyn.

“That assurance is missing if the Legislature can sweep the income that parks earn.”

Other messages advanced by the coalition, Martyn said, include “the recognition that the Fann bill doesn’t solve the long‐term funding gap faced by state parks and we are working to convince legislators that state parks operations cannot stand any additional sweeps from its remaining revenue sources.”

Martyn noted that state parks are in precarious financial condition, causing a number of

parks to operate on reduced hours and others staying open only through temporary

contributions from local governments and friends groups. Kurt Wadlington, Tucson building group leader for Sundt Construction and chairman of Arizona Forward, said the parks report was validation of the business case for environmental prioritization. “We learned from statewide polling that nearly every Arizonan (93 percent) believes that parks and open space are essential to Arizona tourism, a $17 billion industry.”

“Other studies we reviewed showed that outdoor recreation attracts more than 5.5 million Arizonans, generating approximately $350 million in annual state taxes and nearly $5 billion in retail services while supporting 82,000 jobs,” he said. “Clearly, it is in every Arizonan’s interest to maintain a robust system of parks, open space and wildlife habitat and Arizona Forward is exploring long‐term solutions to funding that system,” added Wadlington.

Arizona Forward Coalition has promising start

[Source: Arizona Republic Editorial] – Just when the polarization and partisanship inArizonaare becoming as toxic as rattlesnake venom, a new coalition has come forward to find collaborative solutions to maintain our quality of life. Arizona Forward brings together business, utilities, conservation advocates, education interests and civic groups. The charter members range from Sundt Construction to the Nature Conservancy. These aren’t natural allies. But they have a common interest in the viability of Arizona as a place to live and work. They all recognize that our state must find the right balance between economic growth and a healthy, sustainable environment.

The statewide group is an expanded version of Valley Forward Association, which has promoted dialogue and advanced critical projects in the Phoenix metro area for 42 years. It has helped shape our communities with support for open space, recreational areas, freeways and light rail. It conceived the “pedestrian freeway,” a regional system of trails and parks for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Arizona Forward will start off by focusing on the Sun Corridor, thePhoenix-to-Tucson”mega-region” that is home to eight of 10 Arizonans. As Arizona heads into its second century, we will increasingly need this broader perspective to solve problems. Right now, we have a string of communities more likely to spar than recognize their common interests. Here’s an opportunity to create and refine the identity of the Sun Corridor. That alone can be a strong marketing tool.

The challenges that Arizona Forward expects to tackle include land-use planning, transportation, air quality, renewable energy, water and natural areas. In other words, issues where any action requires negotiation and consensus-building. Like its Valley counterpart, Arizona Forward aims to raise awareness of environmental issues and serve as a technical resource. As part of its first project, the organization commissioned a poll about our state’s natural assets. The results showed a big knowledge gap. While Arizonans overwhelmingly believe that parks and open space are essential to tourism (93 percent in the poll), few of us have a strong grasp of how parks are actually funded (18 percent). Arizona Forward is filling that gap with an easy-to-read fact-filled report, Why Parks and Open Space Matter: The Economics of Arizona‘s Natural Assets.”

Readers aren’t left with a bunch of numbers and no idea of what to do with them. Without endorsing any specific plan, Arizona Forward suggests a list of actions to develop a sustainable financial base.This is important groundwork for urgent issues, including the future of Arizona State Parks, federal funding for national monuments and state-trust-land reform.

Arizona Forward is a welcome new player, and its fast start is encouraging.