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.

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.

Arizona Forward supports parks and open space, as do most state residents

[Source: Bonnie Bariola, Special to the Florence Reminder] – Arizona Forward was formed for the purpose of enhancing the state’s environmental quality. The initial step in this process was to develop a parks and open space primer entitled Why Parks and Open Space Matter – The Economics of Arizona’s Natural Assets. This document provides unbiased facts, background information, and answers to frequently asked questions on this topic.

With a mission to promote cooperative efforts to improve the livability, sustainability, and economic vitality of cities and towns throughout the state, Arizona Forward was recently formed by Valley Forward, a 42-year old nonprofit public interest organization. Arizona Forward’s organizing members include Freeport McMoran /Copper and Gold, National Bank of Arizona, Sundt Construction, The Nature Conservancy, Fennemore Craig, Gammage and Burnham, Arizona Public Service Co., and the Arizona Heritage Alliance.

Surveys for the parks and open space primer revealed the fact that Arizonans overwhelmingly support state parks and open spaces and believe such areas contribute to a region’s economic health, but few people understand how the state pays for its parks. This lack of knowledge could imperil a parks system already weakened by budget cuts if lawmakers don’t hear from enough voters who want open spaces protected. Voters are encouraged to tell their state legislators to stop raiding the park system’s budget and support a dedicated and secure funding source for parks and wildlife protection.

To download a copy of the parks and open space primer go to arizonaforward.org. Research to prepare the primer revealed nearly 5.5 million Arizonans participate in active outdoor recreation, generating approximately $350 million in annual state tax revenue, producing nearly $5 billion in retail services and supports 83,000 jobs. Designed to enhance awareness of and interest in solving Arizona’s park’s issues, the primer is among Arizona Forward’s first projects toward its mission to promote cooperative efforts to improve the livability, sustainability, and economic vitality of cities and towns across Arizona. The user-friendly reference guide is described as “parks and open space 101.”

The primer covers not only facts about state parks but includes information about federal parks and lands, county and municipal parks, and other forms of trails and open space.

One section in the primer summarizes the Heritage Fund which was approved by Arizona’s voters in 1990 to protect our natural and cultural heritage. This initiative allocated $10 million per year from the state lottery monies to the Arizona Game and Fish Department and another $10 million to Arizona State Parks, both of which would provide grants to protect natural and cultural resources.

In 2010 the $10 million Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund was swept by the Arizona Legislature and completely eliminated with Budget Reconciliation Bill HB 2012 that repealed distributions to the Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund and redirected the money to the state General Fund.

The members of Arizona Forward believe that to move Arizona forward, everyone must find common ground rather than faulting our differences. We must also work together to protect Arizona’s natural assets and ensure our state’s long-term economic prosperity. Everyone is encouraged to contact their legislators to let them know you want them to support and fund parks, open space and the Heritage Fund.

Push to protect Arizona’s parks from budget cuts gains steam

[Source: Shaun McKinnon, AZ Republic, Page 1] –  Arizonans overwhelmingly support state parks and open spaces and believe such areas contribute to a region’s economic health, but few people understand how the state pays for its parks, a new survey says. That lack of knowledge could imperil a parks system already weakened by budget cuts if lawmakers don’t hear from enough voters who want open spaces protected, according to Arizona Forward, a newly organized group that commissioned the survey.

“Nothing is stronger than grass roots, with people calling their elected officials saying, ‘This is important to me, I want my parks to be open,’ ” said Diane Brossart, acting director of the group. “But I think we take these things for granted, and until there’s a crisis, people are not engaged with the issues.” [to read the full article click here].