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.

City of Sedona gambling with its Arizona Heritage Fund grant

[Source:, letter to the editor] — The Sedona Cultural Park may have closed its doors five years ago, but it’s ghost is alive and well in the guise of the Barbara Antonsen Memorial Park and Pavilion. Plans to plop a geodesic dome in the midst of a recreational overbuilt Posse Ground Park (populated with 16 various courts, fields, underutilized teen center, dog park, swimming pool, elementary school and unregulated skateboard park bordered by two of Sedona’s longest established neighborhoods and one exclusive and relatively new subdivision) are moving along rapidly with the help of the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

The matching grant of $586,600 was awarded to the City of Sedona for fiscal year 1995-1996 and, in turn, given to the non-profit organization responsible for establishing and maintaining the Sedona Cultural Park project. However, the City neglected to protect its interest by securing the grant in the event that the Cultural Park defaulted (and when it did, the City had no recourse). Included in this grant were; a two level amphitheatre, site preparation, sod, stage utilities, tree preservation, landscaping irrigation, fencing, lighting, ticket area, picnic/shade ramadas, tables and benches, restrooms, roads, lights, sewer, potable water, gas, electric, telephone and signage. [Note: to read the full article, click here.]