Letter to Chairman Russ Jones, House Agriculture & Water Committee, from Mayor Vicki Kilvinger, Mayor of Florence

February 8, 2012

Honorable Russ Jones, Chair, Agriculture and Water Committee
Arizona House of Representatives
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ  85007

Dear Representative Jones:

SUBJECT:       HCR 2047 –  State Parks Heritage Fund, Restoration

As Mayor of the Town of Florence, I support the passage of HCR2047 State Parks Fund, Restoration in order to let the citizens of the state vote to reinstate the $10 million dollars and the statute which will reinstate the Heritage Fund.

The final passage of the Heritage Fund would establish a program that would not only create many jobs in this difficult economy but also help save our historic properties, build parks, and help to create a better quality of life for our residents.

As a Rural Community, Florence has been able to rehabilitate many of its adobe buildings utilizing Heritage Funds.  From the Heritage Fund’s beginning in 1991 through 2006, Florence received a total of 18 grants totaling $1,541,233 which was matched by the same amount for a total of over $3 million dollars.   This created construction jobs and with the reinstatement of the Heritage Fund, Florence can once again create more jobs and continue restoring historic properties.

Thank you for your support on this issue.

Vicki Kilvinger, Mayor

Commentary: 22 years later, Arizonans may have another chance to vote for historic preservation

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Florence Reminder, 2/9/2012] – In 1990 the people of Arizona voted unanimously to approve an initiative to allocate $20 million from Arizona Lottery Funds to the Heritage Fund, with $10 million going to Arizona State Parks and $10 million going to the Arizona Game and Fish Commission. The initiative was very specific as to the use of the funds by both the State Parks Board and the Game and Fish Commission.

The State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund was to be distributed as follows:

  • State Parks Acquisition and Development (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually;
  • State Parks Natural Areas Acquisition (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually;
  • State Parks Natural Areas Operation and Management (4%): Up to $400,000 annually;
  • Environmental Education (5%): Up to $500,000 annually;
  • Trails (5%): Up to $500,000 annually (Grants);
  • Local, Regional and State Parks (35%): Up to $3.5 million annually (Grants);
  • Historic Preservation (17%): Up to $1.7 million annually (Grants).

Although the initiative contained the following statements “All monies in the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund shall be spent by the Arizona State Parks Board only for the purposes and in the percentages set forth in this article” and “in no event shall any monies in the fund revert to the state general fund,” in February 2009 the State Parks Board canceled or suspended all Heritage Fund grants that were 1 to 90 percent complete. At that time the Legislature stopped providing funding for Arizona State Parks. Then in 2010, the Legislature not only canceled funding the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund, they also removed the language from the Arizona Revised Statutes that allocated these funds to Arizona State Parks.

The Legislature continued to fund the Arizona Game and Fish Commission’s portion of the Heritage Fund.

In spite of the Arizona Heritage Alliance having been formed for the purpose of attempting to prevent the Legislature from sweeping the Heritage Fund, the Legislature succeeded anyway. Since 2009 the Heritage Alliance members have worked diligently attempting to reinstate the State Parks portion of the Heritage Fund, this time to include language in the initiative that would really protect the monies from being taken by either State Parks or the Legislature.

Ballot initiative: Representative Russ Jones has introduced a Bill (HCR 2047) that, if approved, would once again put an initiative on the ballot for the people of Arizona to make the decision whether or not they wanted a portion of the lottery funds to go toward Conservation and Preservation by means of the Heritage Fund. HCR 2047 is cosponsored by seventeen additional representatives, one being Rep. Frank Pratt from District 23.

At the request of Arizona State Parks and the Heritage Alliance, Northern Arizona University prepared data showing the economic impact one year of the Heritage Fund had on the state of Arizona.

“Total direct expenditures from the Heritage Fund in 2007 were $12,895,267 spent on both land acquisition and construction related to maintenance and repair. The direct program expenditures resulted in indirect expenditures of $4.6 million and induced expenditures of $8.5 million for a total economic impact of $26.1 million. Direct expenditures resulted in 125 direct jobs, 33 indirect jobs and 66 induced jobs, for a total of 224 jobs from ASP Heritage Funds. Estimated total taxes for these expenditures (state, local and federal) were $3.3 million.”

The Arizona Heritage Alliance President Elizabeth Woodin said, “This very productive fund administered by Arizona State Parks created hundreds of jobs and hundreds of thousands of dollars on the ground each year particularly in the rural areas. Those projects made life more pleasant and attracted more business and tourism. If the Legislature will not restore it outright, the least that can be done is to allow the voters to decide if they still want it. That is the fair and right thing to do.”

From 1991 through 2006 Florence received 18 Historic Preservation Heritage Fund Grants totaling $1,541,233, Casa Grande received 8 grants totaling $395,573, and Coolidge received 4 grants totaling $340,841. If the Heritage Fund can be reinstated, this funding source will again be available for not only Pinal County cities and towns, but for cities and towns all over the state to again rehabilitate their historic properties.

HCR 2047 is scheduled to be heard by three Committees. First is Agriculture and Water which is chaired by Representative Jones. This committee will hear it on Thursday, February 9, 2012 at 9 a.m. It is currently scheduled to be heard by two more committees on yet to be determined dates.

Please contact your representatives and encourage them to support HCR 2047 which would give the citizens of Arizona the opportunity to again vote to reinstate the Arizona State Parks Board Heritage Fund.

Florence wins 2011 Governor’s Heritage Preservation Award

[Source: TriValleyCentral.com] – Since 1982, the Arizona Preservation Foundation and the Arizona State Historic Preservation Office/Arizona State Parks have collaborated to present the Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Awards. Through a very competitive process, each year 10 projects recognizing people, organizations, and projects that represent outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona’s prehistoric and historic resources are presented at the annual Historic Preservation Conference.

Florence was one of the 2011 recipients for the Florence Townsite Historic District Preservation Design Guidelines. The awards were the highlight of the recent 9th Annual Arizona Historic Preservation Conference held in Tucson on June 22-24, 2011. State Historic Preservation Officer Jim Garrison said, “The awards make the conference more than a venue to learn, debate and network, but also a celebration of outstanding historic preservation efforts and achievements.” He continued, “As we prepare to celebrate our state’s 100th birthday in 2012, it is imperative that we join together to protect those resources that reflect our diverse heritage, and create new partnerships that will nurture these resources far into the future.”

The Florence Townsite Historic District Preservation Design Guidelines were developed through a collaborative effort led by Town Planner Gilbert Olgin. With assistance from Robert Longaker with the WLB Group in Tucson, the Town’s Historic District Preservation Commission, a Technical Advisory Committee, and the State Historic Preservation Officer, many hours were spent preparing and reviewing the guidelines.
The guidelines are a critical planning tool used to encourage owners of properties in the Historic District to maintain their historic properties and to ensure any improvements and new development are compatible with the existing development.

This document is not only vital to the survival of the historic district, but has helped the passion to grow for historic preservation inFlorence. It is more than a set of guidelines, but a cornerstone effort in preserving historic downtownFlorence and enhancing economic development opportunities in the delicate core of the town.

McFarland is remembered as his building is celebrated

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, TriValeyCentral.com]

Photo courtesy of Bonnie Bariola

A ceremony was held for the reopening of McFarland State Historic Park in conjunction with the Annual Tour of Historic Florence [last] Saturday.

Leah Lewis, granddaughter of Ernest W. McFarland, was Master of Ceremonies. She told about times with her grandfather when she was a small child, saying he was always interested in their school work and encouraged them to further their educations. She also reminded everyone that her grandfather was the only person to hold the three positions of U. S. senator, governor and chief justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Mayor Vicki Kilvinger related to those present how much the GI Bill had meant to her and her husband. Thanks to Senator McFarland for helping create the GI Bill, her husband was able to complete his education and become a rocket scientist after having served in the military. Her presentation was very touching and inspiring, saying that through the efforts of Senator McFarland, her family’s life as well as that of many other service people, had been made easier.

Jim Garrison, State Historic Preservation Officer, explained how the first Pinal County Courthouse was purchased by Ernest McFarland and donated to the Arizona State Parks System to become McFarland Historic State Park.

Renee Bahl, executive director of Arizona State Parks, told about the recent renovation of the park. Unfortunately, as construction was nearing completion the state’s economy collapsed and no funding was available to reopen it. Through negotiations, the town of Florence was able to lease and reopen the park with the Florence Main Street Program operating it under the auspices of Manager Jennifer Evans.

Jennifer Evans is also the manager of the Florence Visitor Center, also housed at the park. For further information, you may contact her or her assistant, Ken Loerzel at 520-868-4496 or e-mailinfo@florencemainstreet.com.