[Source: Bonnie Bariola, TriValleyCentral.com] – The Arizona Heritage Alliance continues working toward the reinstatement of the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund. Heritage Alliance President Elizabeth Woodin said, “since the drastic, secretive removal of half of your Heritage Fund in March 2010 by state legislators, the diverse, enthusiastic, engaged, all-volunteer Arizona Heritage Alliance board and membership have been working ever-more vigorously to increase the visibility of the Heritage Fund to the citizens of Arizona, to protect the Fund and its objectives, and to devise a plan to recapture the plundered dollars and statutory language of the State Parks Heritage Fund.”
The Arizona Heritage Alliance was one of the leaders of the 2013 Environmental Day at the Arizona Capitol in February 2013. Meeting with several bipartisan legislators, Representative Ethan Orr (R-Tucson) agreed to introduce HB 2594, Local Transportation Assistance Fund; Restoration, which would have reinstated the State Parks Heritage Fund in its original form.
Also in February 2013, the House Energy, Environment & Natural Resources Committee made a motion that carried by a vote of 8-0-0-0; however, this measure was suppressed in the State House before it could even get a full debate.
In June of 2013, Arizona Heritage Alliance Board President Elizabeth Woodin and Board member Russ Jones (former legislator from Yuma) made a presentation to the Governor’s Natural Resources Review Council (NRRC) regarding the restoration of the State Parks Heritage Fund. They asked the NRRC to recommend to Governor Brewer to put this valuable program back into the state budget, especially the grant program.
Benefits to Florence
The Heritage Fund supplied valuable programs and resources for both Arizona visitors and especially jobs for residents. The Heritage Fund provides economic, environmental, education, tourism, and quality of life benefits that are far too important for this fund to be lost forever.
Florence residents have benefited from the Heritage Fund in the past because it provided grant funds for partial construction costs for: Heritage Park, Clarke House rehabilitation, Silver King Marketplace rehabilitation, Chapel of the Gila and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church rehabilitation, True Value Hardware, 2nd Pinal County Courthouse, several private residences, and the Harvey/Niemeyer House.
Had a Heritage Fund Grant not been in place when the east wall of the Chapel of The Gila collapsed back in the early 1990s, it would have been lost forever. Also, if the Heritage Fund had not been available as the first grant assistance for the Florence Preservation Foundation (FPF), the Silver King/Florence Hotel would have been razed many years ago. The Heritage Fund provided several Heritage Fund grants for the FPF during the stabilization of the building.
It is also thanks to the Heritage Fund, the FPF, and Donovan Kramer, Sr. for saving the very important Clarke House which is now home to the Florence Reminder and Blade Tribune newspaper.
Members of the Heritage Alliance continue to expand partnerships with historic preservation groups, Arizona League of Cities and Towns, Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, Arizona Forward and other appropriate organizations. Hopefully all of these activities are moving us closer to regaining the missing half of the Heritage Fund, which is an essential building block for a better and stronger quality of life and economic future for all Arizonans.
For additional information about the Arizona Heritage Alliance go to azheritage.org.
(Editor’s Note: Bonnie Bariola is a member of the Arizona Heritage Alliance representing the Florence Preservation Foundation.)