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Flagstaff City Council and mayoral candidates have been given the chance to answer a weekly question in no more than 150 words. This week’s question: How do you feel about the number and location of parks in Flagstaff and what should happen to the old public works yard?

City Council

Adam Shimoni

City parks are a great way to keep neighborhoods connected and safe. Flagstaff residents, including myself, love our parks. The diversity and availability of parks, in almost every neighborhood, adds to the quality of life and makes Flagstaff a desired place to live in. Therefore, I support the city developing new parks where needed, while maintaining and enhancing existing ones.

When it comes to the public works yard, in 2016, I attended a City meeting regarding this issue. I learned that the area was originally deemed as open space or park. The room was packed with concerned citizens who expressed their opposition to a number of potential future uses, such as high occupancy housing. I believe the City should continue facilitating discussion and public engagement about the public works yard and provide alternatives for its use that truly incorporate public input and honor the original intent for this area.

Austin Aslan

Flagstaff needs more parks, playgrounds, ball fields, soccer fields, and other recreation facilities like tennis courts, etc. In particular, our Girls Softball League needs a dedicated, high-quality field.

I support the option of requiring new developers to include parks in new neighborhoods to leverage the cost of construction, and to maintain a system of accessible parks in many places. Also, NAU could improve community relations by offering some facilities up for more public uses.

While we grow our parks it’s essential we maintain our commitment to dark skies. There are lighting options that, while slightly more expensive to install, provide the best night lighting possible while minimizing light pollution. I would aggressively advocate for this approach.

I favor converting the old public works yard into a park and setting aside some of the space for affordable housing, although I’m open to other suggestions from the public, as well.

Dennis Lavin

Our existing City parks are wonderful for our community. As a grandparent, I enjoy how children/adults utilize our parks throughout the week. One of the many factors that make a town livable are the open spaces for all.

It is my understanding that the City has property available for additional parks (for example the Old Public Works yard by Thorpe Park), however the Council would be required to add this matter to a future budget. I would support focusing a part of our limited financial resources for additional parks, even if they are pockets parks. I wonder if our leaders have discussed partnering with FUSD to enhance existing school properties.

On a personal note, I would like to see a multi-use park near my neighborhood.

Regina Salas

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There’s a growing need for a regional sports park to serve youth, adults, community and competitive tennis, soccer, little league and softball teams.  Current council declined sending the community-driven Flagstaff Open Space, Parks and Recreation Campaign to the ballot. It’s time for the private sector to step up through public-private partnerships. Such investment in recreation and sports will boost economic activity and revenue dollars that can be reinvested to the facility and recreation programs. There’s the multiplier effect on lodging, restaurants, attractions, and local shops too.

Flagstaff Softball Little League and West Flagstaff Little League had combined participation of 674 kids. The community sense of pride was resounding when Flagstaff Girls Softball Little League All-Stars advanced to finals. Adult softball leagues bring 400 teams with 15,000 players from the region.

The old public works yard may be re-purposed into a campground in addition to community gardens, trails and passive recreation. 

Alex Martinez

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The last park built in Flagstaff was Foxglenn Park in 2003. A community can never have enough open space and enough parks that facilitate the wellbeing of the community. In 1988, voters passed a 2 percent tax, the BBB Tax (Bed, Board and Booze) of which 33 percent is dedicated to parks and recreation. How is this 33 percent being utilized and do we need another tax or bond to fund parks and recreation? Perhaps an approach to creating a partnership between the city and county to build a multi parks facility would be the answer. 

I feel that the upcoming new City Council should address the usage of the Public Works Yard.  Because of its location, it would be an asset to the Flagstaff community.

Paul Deasy

The City of Flagstaff owns small parcels of land around town that could be converted into small parks where appropriate. Small parks distributed around town is important to increase accessibility for those with limited means to reach the larger parks.

I would like to see the old public works yard be used for multiple purposes. We can convert much of it into a park, but also incorporate some of the land into the city’s land trust for workforce housing. I am glad to see that part of the land is proposed to be used for urban farming as well which could provide fresh organic produce to the food bank, public tours, or educational school field trips.

Mayor

Coral Evans

A town as active as Flagstaff could always do with more parks and recreational facilities. The west side of town needs more parks, Country Club, Christmas Tree, Sunnyside, Bow and Arrows -- all sorts of neighborhoods would benefit from having more parkland. The difficulty is paying for them.

The public works yard is a fairly large space -- approximately 8 acres. We can do multiple things with the space and all of it should be planned in discussion with the neighborhood and the community at large.

There's work to be done before anything can be done that land. My hope for the future is that it includes parkland, maybe an educational component, there was a garden there once and could be again, and some affordable housing. We are particularly in need of low income housing for seniors, and I think that would be a lovely spot for small one bedroom units.

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Adrian Skabelund can be reached at the office at askabelund@azdailysun.com, by phone at (928) 607-5155 or on twitter @AdrianSkabelund.

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