SEPTEMBER 17, 2005
The public meeting began at approximately 1:00 p.m.
Ms. Becky Benná, Parks and Recreation Director, began the meeting by announcing those in attendance. She introduced Park and Recreation staff Shirley Medler, R.J. Cardin, Roger Boyer and Parks and Recreation Commissioners Ted Hansen and Raymond Kultala. Also in the audience were Councilmembers Manny Martinez, Joyce Clark, Phil Lieberman, and Tom Eggleston. Mayor Elaine Scruggs was also in attendance. Ms. Benná introduced today’s meeting facilitator, Dr. Marty Rozelle, from the Rozelle Group.
Today’s public meeting began with a presentation of the draft preliminary Thunderbird Conservation Park Master Plan. Presenting today will be landscape architect Ms. Jackie Keller, Logan Simpson Design, Mr. Steve Fairaizl, senior biologist with Logan Simpson Design, trails coordinator, Tom Fitzgerald, Logan Simpson Design, Jennifer Cleveland, Logan Simpson Design and hydrologist Mr. Jon Fuller, JD Fuller Hydrology.
The public meeting was opened for comments and questions from the public. Dr. Rozelle facilitated this portion of the meeting. Following are a list of the questions and answers:
1.) Where is the topo map? Ms. Keller pointed out and explained the topography aerial. She reviewed the elevations maps for clarification. Mr. Fuller asked that anyone interested in a more detailed map provide their email address to him. He will send a more detailed map electronically.
2.) What is the cost estimate for the total project? Ms. Benná explained that this public meeting process will assist in determining what the costs for the Master Plan process will be. First, the community must determine what the priorities are and this will lead to cost estimates. Second, staff will look at funding sources for this project.
3.) Is permanent staffing required and what is the cost? Ms. Benná again stated costs are based on the needs and requests of the community.
4.) Do you have any statistics that indicate increased equestrian traffic in the future? Currently, it appears to be minimal. Ms. Keller stated a statistical analysis has not occurred. Mr. Fitzgerald stated there are statistics indicating that the amount of hikers has increased although the equestrian traffic appears to remain the same or less. Equestrians feel there is competition for the trails among the users. The amount of development nearby also adds to the reduction of equestrians. Ms. Keller displayed the area which is being used by equestrians. The equestrians are interested in longer rides and suggested these trails connect with others to allow this to happen.
5.) What happens between now and the November 5 meeting? And what happens after that? Ms. Benná stated that in the focus group meeting, all in attendance suggested that staff take their time in developing the master plan. Ms. Benná asked that people provide their contact information so that they can continue to be notified of upcoming meetings. There will be more opportunities to provide input.
6.) Why was the wash corridor developed originally? Ms. Keller stated that twenty years ago that is where people recreated, right along the rivers and the lakes, which lead to erosion. Uses must be moved to appropriate park areas.
7.) Lights are currently an intrusion to the park. Are you proposing more lights? Ms. Keller stated the only areas that will include new lighting will be the parking areas, the restrooms, and ramadas. The proposed culvert under 59th Avenue will also be lit. The lighting will be placed inside. The proposed education center will be lighted only on the inside.
8.) How are you going to control and protect the 2 to 12 year olds in the new recreation area? Ms. Keller said although there is no way to control every child, the intent of the area will be to provide areas which will allow children the opportunity to touch and experience different desert related items.
9.) Why not restore the Dragon’s Tooth catchment basin? Mr. Fuller stated the Dragon’s Tooth catchment basin is part of the sedimentation basin. They are originally designed to capture the sediment. What to do with the basin, when to empty the basin, and how often to empty it without disrupting the wildlife are issues that are being discussed.
10.) Don’t catchment basins breed mosquitoes and what is the plan to prevent this? Mr. Steve Fairaizl stated that water does trap mosquitoes and gives them the opportunity to breed. He explained there are different ways to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding. He understands the concern because of the West Nile Virus. Ms. Keller stated the catchment basins are designed to prevent standing water, which is what mosquitoes prefer. The basins would hold natural rainfall only.
11.) Low value habitats? In the interest of conservation, should those areas be kept looking that way? Mr. Steve Fairaizl said yes, this low quality wildlife can be increased or decreased. This would depend upon the amount of vegetation or revegetation that is added to specific areas.
12.) Why would areas changed from yellow to green? Mr. Steve Fairaizl indicated that depends upon what is requested by the users. Would users like more wildlife or less wildlife?
13.) Aren’t soils typically an excellent median for growing most plants? Ms. Keller stated the colors would change based upon how much wildlife is requested in each areas. Ms. Keller explained the different types of plants available in any area draws different types of wildlife. She said this is the challenge, how to get good plants to grow in an area that has been disturbed.
14.) Why isn’t the wash area shown in yellow? Mr. Steve Fairaizl explained the wash area barely contains levels of food and shelter for wildlife that currently exists. Ms. Keller added that the picture shows how dry the area is now with not much vegetation.
15.) Won’t the city open themselves up to a lawsuit by using the culvert as a trail? Ms. Benná stated that this issue would be part of the evaluation process. If this were an issue, we would need to determine how any potential risks could be minimized.
16.) If the culvert were used, would it be possible to install screen doors that lock? Ms. Benná stated this issue could be discussed during the planning process.
17.) Can the education facility be placed near the existing picnic area but outside the 100-year floodplain? Ms. Keller stated that something could be placed near this area but she felt the facility, which includes parking needs to be placed in an area that is more developed.
18.) How about locating the facility along 67th Avenue? Ms. Keller stated this is the main equestrian entrance and is a more intensive use for the area. The facility would require more parking that what would be able to be constructed along that area. If the facility was placed in this area, it would mean disturbing more of the desert.
19.) What can be done in a building approximately 3,000 square feet? Ms. Keller stated the size of the building has yet to be determined. What is being proposed is two classrooms, bathrooms, with a ranger area. What was shown in the presentation were pictures of other education facilities. The Thunderbird Conservation Park educational facility size has yet to be determined.
20.) Why are so many trailheads shown in the Pinnacle Peak area? Ms. Keller explained they wanted to distribute the use to lessen the impact. She stated three trailheads would be added to disperse usage. This would accommodate those coming to the park from the east loop. This would encourage people to remain on the trails by providing parking near the trails they are wishing to utilize. This will also help to deter the number of social trails that are created by those cutting across the desert to access the trail they are interested in. The key to park planning is placing convenient parking for the areas that people are going to access.
- Regarding the culvert – what is the plan to consult with the police before proposing pedestrians to use the culvert? Ms. Benná stated that this would be part of the operation process. Receiving input from the police department would be part of the master plan process. There have been discussions with Officer Joan Campbell of the Glendale Police Department.
22.) Doesn’t it take hundreds of years to restore plants and soils in the wash? Mr. Steve Fairaizl said “no”. There is a real science to restoring plants and soils and if done properly it can happen quickly. Ms. Keller stated that one of the techniques is to salvage the topsoil, approximately six inches off the top. This is stored until needed.
23.) Will the education center be built on a medium value habitat? Ms. Keller stated this is a possibility but recommend building on an area that is already disturbed. There are reasons as to why the flatter, already disturbed areas of the park are preferred.
24.) Where would the parking be for those utilizing the 51st Avenue trail? Parking for all park trails will be at the park entrances at 67th, 59th and 55th Avenues. For those driving to the park to use the 51st Avenue trail, the closest parking is at 55th Avenue off Pinnacle Peak Road.
25.) Where would the parking be for those wanting to utilize the 51st Avenue bridal trail? Ms. Medler explained the route of the 51st Avenue bridal trail. The 51st Avenue bridal trail connection is for equestrians already on horseback, hikers or bicyclists using the trail as an entrance to the park. No parking would be provided at this point, and the access would not become a designated trailhead, but rather a connection to an existing regional trail system.
26.) How many parking spaces are needed? Ms. Keller explained the formula for estimating the number of parking spaces needed. She stated that approximately 30 spaces are needed for each trail mile. This results in approximately 650 parking spaces. This would assist in keeping vehicles from parking in the surrounding neighborhoods.
27.) Does this formula consider the attractiveness of the trail? Ms. Keller stated more parking would be provided for the more popular trails, and less for the lesser used trails.
The speaker in the audience suggested a more detailed audit take place rather than what has been formulated. Ms. Keller explained that during their research they would determine which trails are the most popular. Those trails would require more parking spaces.
28.) What documentation exists showing how many people are using Thunderbird Park for picnicking? Large groups? Individuals? Do we have information on peak days or times? Are they there for hiking or picnicking? Ms. Medler stated staff reviewed the number of reservations for the ramadas that were made. Approximately 100 reservations are taken each year for the group picnic area. Other ramadas located in the park are only one or two table ramadas and many of those are not reserved, but are used on a first come, first served basis. She explained that the Traffic Division of the city of Glendale had done a traffic count to see how many vehicles were entering into the park when they did their street analysis. On the one Sunday during the study 1,700 vehicles entered into Thunderbird Conservation Park from 59th Avenue. Ms. Benná stated that staff could conduct more surveys to determine the reasons why people are coming to the park.
29.) Any information on peak days / times? Ms. Benná stated more surveys should be conducted to gather more information.
30.) Is there any documentation on how often the amphitheater is used? Ms. Benná stated from her personal observation she has seen people using the amphitheater to stretch or to sit and rest. This area does not require a reservation. Ms. Medler stated this area was used for sunrise religious services and for cross country track meets. Ms. Medler stated for a track meet there are approximately eight buses, each carrying 40 students for a total of 320 participants, plus spectators.
31.) How has the plan come so far when an exhaustive analysis has not been conducted asking for the most uses? How can the consultants plan to change the area when they aren’t sure who uses the park? Shouldn’t the process have begun by determining how the users are utilizing the park? Ms. Benna stated that a community-wide survey was sent to 2,000 random Glendale households in the winter of 2003-04 with a return of 403 responses. Public meetings and a focus group meeting were held during that time period. Since then another focus group meeting has been held, and this meeting tonight is the second of a series of public meetings being held to continue the public input process. On-site surveys of users will also be conducted this Fall.
32.) Why are there three entrances proposed from Pinnacle Peak? Ms. Keller stated that the emergency personnel asked for more than one entrance. Having more than one entrance provides a safe loop system for people entering and exiting the park.
It was mentioned that 700 parking spaces are required to support events. Ms. Keller clarified the amount of parking spaces proposed is 620. She explained the formula that determines the number of spaces needed.
33.) How much acreage is consumed for parking lots? Ms. Keller stated that 2.2 acres of parking current exists. She said an additional 2.7 acres of parking is proposed for a total of 4.9 acres of total parking. There are nine acres proposed for picnicking.
34.) Does this figure include the roadways and the area between the landscape and the parking areas? Ms. Keller stated no, the acreage is only the paved area. She said there is currently 1.4 miles of roadways and the master plan proposed 2.05 miles total. Some of the roadway is being removed in order to restore the wash corridor.
35.) Shouldn’t we target a lower trail per person density? After some calculations, this would show one person on every 40 yards of trails. Mr. Fitzgerald explained that people are coming to utilize the park and we need to determine how to accommodate all these people. This can be done by designating which are the high use areas and how to plan to maintain these areas for future use.
36.) Will energy efficient restrooms be provided? Ms. Keller stated that they are looking at different types of building materials, lighting, and handling of waste in order to improve the restrooms. This would provide technically advanced but conservation oriented restrooms.
37.) How does the city plan to engage the disabled? Ms. Benná explained that part of the analysis includes working with regulations set up by the American’s with Disabilities Act. We will also take the draft preliminary master plan to the City of Glendale’s Commission on Persons with Disabilities for their ideas on the proposed accessible trails.
38.) How will the schools and educators be involved? Ms. Benná stated these groups were part of the focus group, and that staff would continue to communicate with them and solicit their input.
39.) Will there be parks operations separate buildings – one of the east side and one of the west side? Ms. Jackie explained the travel time would be of concern. There is a high density of trails along the west side, which are mainly equestrians. The types of usage for park operations must first be identified in this process and to determine how these separate areas could be used.
40.) Will a monument marker would be constructed at the highest point? Ms. Keller stated no, this would be the lookout area, and added nothing new would be constructed at this location.
41.) How much distance does the wildlife need away from people to survive? Mr. Steve Fairaizl explained that urban animals have adapted to people and roads. They have learned to adapt and required only small areas and short distances from people to survive.
An attendee commented that signage at the education center should be kept there. Do not place signage throughout the park identifying each type of plant or bush.
42.) Is the education center is a “done deal”? Ms. Benná stated no, the purpose of the public meetings is together feedback, comments and concerns. All the input collected will be considered when completing the master plan.
43.) Does the White Tanks Mountain Park have an education center? Mr. Fitzgerald was unsure. He noted some of the parks, which he was aware, had an education center.
44.) There is a small wash located at the northeast corner. Has this area been looked at with regards to hydrology? Mr. Fuller stated no, this area has not been researched. An attendee asked that this area be considered when reviewing the overall park.
45.) Has the parking issue has been addressed regarding the 67th Avenue equestrian center? The parking area that currently exists for the equestrians’ trailers is experiencing problems due to the high school kids parking their vehicles and then crossing the street to get to school. Ms. Medler stated this issue has been addressed. Signage has been posted to restrict students from parking in that lot.
An attendee stated he liked the idea of the picnic areas being removed. He likes the increase in vegetation and adding water bowls for the wildlife. He sees a contradiction with the number of parking spaces being increased. He is concerned with the wildlife being scared off by those visiting the park.
Another attendee appreciates the city staff for listening to the residents’ concerns. He added he is concerned about the reduced picnic areas, stating that maybe too much are being removed. He felt that too many parking spaces are being proposed. He asked for the size of the education center. He said let’s determine the priorities for the Park and let’s addresses those first. He felt that vending machines with water sales would be a good addition to the Park and he also felt the washes needed to be reclaimed.
Another commenter stated that he was informed of this meeting when he encountered park staff distributing surveys at the Park. He stated that he felt the access issues have not yet been addressed as there are people parking in the neighborhoods.
An attendee stated only the proposed improvements should take place. She does not want to see another South Mountain Park or Piestewa Park created.
A comment from a previous speaker stated that he does not see the area being protected and preserved.
Mr. Ted Hansen, Parks Advisory Committee Chairperson, reminded everyone in attendance that this is part of the public process. He added he liked the flat areas and would like to see these areas or the yellow areas preserved and kept flat.
With no further comments, Ms. Benná stated the tentative date of the next meeting is November 5th. She advised all attendees that the consultants and staff would be available for questions after today’s meeting. She thanked everyone for attending this meeting.
The meeting concluded at 4:14pm.