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Glendale, AZ

Glendale, AZ

Parks & Recreation
Engaging residents and visitors in diverse opportunities to live, invest and play in the community

Parks & Recreation
5970 W. Brown St.
Glendale AZ  85302

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Glendale Parks and Recreation is Nationally Accredited.
CAPRA provides quality assurance and quality improvement of accredited park and recreation agencies throughout the United States. CAPRA is the only national accreditation of park and recreation agencies, and is a valuable measure of an agency’s overall quality of operation, management, and service to the community.
Parks and Recreation - Master Plan - Community Needs


The City of Glendale has experienced significant growth in size and population from 1970 to the present. Since 1970, Glendale has grown from 17 square miles to 59 square miles. Agricultural land uses have been transformed into residential neighborhoods, business parks, schools, manufacturing and high tech business districts. The population of Glendale has more than doubled since 1980, to 218,812 in 2000. As of October 1, 2009, the population is estimated to be 249,846. Neighborhood park development has kept pace with the city's growth, while development of community parks, community and specialty centers and sports complexes has not. The preservation of desert parks such as Thunderbird Park in north Glendale and the development of new parkland in Skunk Creek and Thunderbird Paseo anchors an existing system that includes 1,706 acres of existing park and conservation land for 218,812 citizens. This represents approximately eight acres per 1,000 residents, which meets the current standard of eight to nine acres per 1,000 population in the 1985 Parks Master Plan.

Parks and open space have been identified as a precious resource that should be maintained and appropriately developed to the maximum efficiency for the capital funding available. Moreover, the City Council and the Parks and Recreation Department determined that an updated Parks and Recreation Master Plan would be required to assess the needs of the community and make strategic recommendations. In 1999, Design Workshop, Inc. and Leon Younger & Pros, were asked to prepare a Parks and Recreation Master Plan based on the needs of the community as identified through the public participation process.

The Parks and Recreation Master Plan for Glendale provides the city with a series of recreation, beautification and economic development recommendations to be implemented over the next ten years.

What is a Parks and Recreation Master Plan?

A Master Plan is a general, long-range planning tool used to achieve and maintain a high quality park, recreation and open space system. The first steps in developing a Master Plan is to gain public input through multiple methods of resident and stakeholder participation and then take inventory of the city?s current assets. Open public forums and stakeholder focus groups were held to assess the current condition of the parks and open space system and to identify unmet needs. The findings are documented and analyzed and serve as the basis to identify the recreation system?s strengths and weaknesses. The next step was to integrate these goals into a direction ? a "vision" for the future which will address the shortcomings of the existing system, anticipate the community?s future needs and serve as the framework for achieving the community?s recreation goals. Finally, developing priorities for action will ensure this vision is achieved. The plan will be an overall guide for implementing subsequent detailed plans and decisions. Through this directed, evolutionary process, individual actions over the coming ten years will ultimately fulfill the Master Plan goals.

Why Parks, Open Space and Recreation are Important

Throughout history, parks and urban open spaces have provided a structure and an aesthetic identity to urban environments as well as recreational opportunities. While it is difficult to place a precise value on parks and open space, they provide a variety of benefits that contribute to a livable city:

  • Accommodate recreation activities
  • Attract recreation enthusiasts
  • Increase property values
  • Provide public access to natural recreation areas and significant sites
  • Provide and enhance animal and plant habitats
  • Conserve, preserve and protect historic character
  • Enhance aesthetic quality
  • Contribute to the city?s identity and marketability
  • Buffer homes and businesses from conflicting uses
  • Contribute to clean air and water
  • Maintain biodiversity

Strengths of the Existing System

The City of Glendale is guided by a vision to build a quality community environment that is accessible to all citizens, measured by efficient systems, and made of durable infrastructure. The General Plan specifically identifies the natural open areas and washes as open space development opportunities for its citizens. An interconnected open space system, quality facilities and valuable programs were identified by the public as important elements to consider when planning Glendale?s open space system. This Master Plan is developed with these goals in mind, and takes advantage of the existing strengths of the open space system. Strong community elements that provide a solid foundation for this Master Plan include:

  • A clear vision from city leaders that supports the development of a highly accessible park system
  • 1,706 acres of existing parkland for 205,236 Glendale residents
  • 1,185 acres at Thunderbird Conservation Park anchors a system that providesa ccess to significant regional open space opportunities
  • Parkland development along the Thunderbird Paseo, Skunk Creek, Grand Canal and New River Corridor will create diverse linear recreational opportunities
  • Undeveloped land in west Glendale is an opportunity for the city to get ahead of growth and acquire land and forge partnerships with school districts to create recreational facilities.
  • Vocal neighborhood representation with a vision of maintaining high quality neighborhood appearances, connectivity to city and regional systems and economic viability.
  • Planned accessibility to current and future modes of transportation, allowing citizens to be less reliant on automobiles.
  • Desert washes provide an opportunity to connect to regional linear open space systems and regional parks outside of Glendale.

Influences on Open Space and Facilities

As a community centralized within a metropolitan district and bounded by fixed borders, the City of Glendale looks inward at redevelopment opportunities as the remaining vacant land is being built out. Although this Master Plan concentrates on recommendations for improvements within the city, it does not ignore internal and external influences on the open space system. Major influences on the planning, design and development of Glendale?s open space system include:

  • Characteristics of the community with respect to neighboring cities, demographics, and the presence of linear open space opportunities and a vibrant downtown environment.
  • Land forms and drainageways including Thunderbird Conservation Park, Skunk Creek, Grand Canal and New River.
  • Regional recreational and cultural opportunities that are accessible to Glendale residents.
  • School District-operated and private recreational fitness and cultural facilities that are located within Glendale and neighboring communities. In some cases, these private facilities are considered partnership opportunities. In other cases, they are in direct competition with city services.
  • A network of circulation systems that carve the city into a grid of arterial streets with non-linear and non-connected local streets. Arterial streets that carry high traffic loads but are not conducive to comfortable pedestrian and bicycle usage. Collector and local streets that carry moderate traffic loads and can be redeveloped into attractive pedestrian and bicycle corridors.
  • Canal, utility and railway corridors, which are not currently developed into multi-use linear open spaces, but can be developed into trail connectors that link neighborhoods to local and regional systems.

Goals for The Master Plan

This Master Plan has been developed to solve the issues residents of Glendale feel are important to creating a viable and accessible parks and recreation system. Through the implementation process it is intended to achieve realistic goals for the enhancement of the community?s social, cultural and environmental well being. This Master Plan sets out to achieve the following goals:

Goal #1-Access to Parks and Open Space

Provide an equitable distribution of park and recreation amenities that enhance the quality of life in the community.

Goal #2-Connectivity

Develop a system of linked open space that connects parks and recreational opportunities to neighborhoods, schools, community amenities, and employment centers.

Goal #3-Community Participation

Provide opportunities for Glendale residents to participate in the design and planning of parks and facilities and increase the sense of ownership.

Goal #4-Environmental Responsibility

Redevelop and develop parklands, open spaces, and facilities that improve the aesthetic appearance of the community and are compatible with the principles of sustainability and conservation of natural resources.

Goal #5-Importance of a Safe System

Continue to provide parks, open space, facilities and services that are safe for participants and city staff.

Goal #6-Partnerships

Initiate and cultivate cooperation between the Parks and Recreation Department and other public agencies and private entities as it relates to development, maintenance and shared use of recreational facilities and services.

Goal #7-Economics

Provide the community with high quality parks and recreation facilities in a manner that is efficient, cost effective, and in a manner that will add value to the surrounding land uses.

Planning Process: To help focus efforts and energy, a framework for the planning effort was adopted early in the process. This three-step planning process included the Findings Phase, Visioning and Recommendation Phase and the Implementation Phase.

Findings Phase: The first step in the Master Planning process was the Findings Phase. The focus of all efforts in this phase was to gather data. The data consisted of opinions, facts, and impressions of the entire parks and recreation system and all aspects of its operation.

At this stage, there was no assessment of how the system was working. There were no judgments on how to fix problems or on how to improve the system, merely an attempt to gather as much information as possible concerning the status quo of the existing system.

One important function of the Findings Phase was that it provided a common baseline for understanding how the parks and recreation systems and organization work. The analysis of this data identified strengths and weaknesses in the system, it measured the effectiveness of service delivery and gauged the attitudes of citizens and key leaders. The intent was to hear from Glendale?s citizens. In order to hear from them, multiple mechanisms and strategies were developed to encourage them to share their opinions. The following are some of the steps included in the Findings Phase:

  • The public was asked to provide input through a citizen survey, fourteen focus groups, and four public hearings.
  • An analysis of the existing local market and comparable markets across the nation were conducted. This market analysis included economic and demographic analysis of Glendale, as well as a benchmark analysis of existing parks and recreation agencies across the nation.
  • Stakeholder interviews were conducted with key department staff, agency heads, elected officials, community leaders, the Park and Recreation Commission and special interest groups including youth leadership in the city.
  • Independent program and facility audits and evaluations identified opportunities for improvement.
  • Equity maps were created to track and identify gaps in service radius areas for parks, facilities and recreation services.

Visioning and Recommendation Phase

The second major phase in the planning process was the Visioning and Recommendation Phase, in which all of the data from the Findings Phase was summarized and analyzed. In the Recommendations Phase, various vision action strategies and tactics were offered as possible solutions to address the shortcomings and weaknesses of the organization and system. In addition, strengths and efficiencies of the Department were identified and used as a foundation for further improvement and examples of excellence. One of the first products of the Recommendations Phase was the development of the Vision Statement, which served as a catalyst and a guidepost for recommendations.

This entire planning process may be viewed as a goal-setting, consensus-building exercise with the intent being to develop recommendations and strategies for future actions along with the associated tactics that reflect the current and future needs of the community.

The Park and Recreation Department identified the following desired outcomes of the planning process:

  • Provide a variety of meaningful community involvement opportunities during the development of the Parks and Recreation Master Plan to reach as many citizens as possible.
  • Plan to serve an expanding and changing population.
  • Ensure coordination with other city and regional planning efforts.
  • Plan for sufficient facilities maintenance.
  • Consider current community needs and interests rather than traditional services.
  • Define the Department?s vision and mission and basic service delivery philosophies.
  • Set priorities for operation and capital improvement action plans.
  • Identify mechanisms for funding.
  • Outline critical service delivery policies.
  • Address the recreational needs of residents.
  • Create partnerships to increase funding, expand facility use and improve recreational opportunities.
  • After the initial goals and objectives were established, community values were incorporated into a visioning process to establish a clear vision of what the citizens of Glendale felt the city and Parks and Recreation Department needed to address within the next five to 10 years.

Implementation Phase

Once recommendations were approved, the final phase of the planning process was the Implementation Phase. Recommendations, strategies, and tactics were summarized and prioritized and the energies and efforts of the Department will be focused on the highest priority of these. Strong links between results from the Findings Phase and Recommendations Phase should result in wide acceptance of the strategies and tactics, which leads to a shared vision and progress toward common goals.

Findings Phase

The Findings Phase focused on information gathered by the consulting team through the community involvement process (qualitative) and through the analysis of existing park facilities and demographic data (quantitative). This established a factual and comprehensive foundation to develop meaningful action strategies and recommendations in the next phase of the Master Planning process. The following information and data are the results of the community involvement process and quantitative analysis:

Public Forums

The Evaluation Process

Public forums were held in four different locations throughout the city. On four consecutive nights, one advertised public meeting was hosted in a public facility in each planning area of the city. The dates and times of these open meetings were announced in the Parks and Recreation booklets mailed to each household, and additional advertisements were listed on the city web site, broadcast on the city cable television bulletin and published in the local newspaper and The Connection newsletter. The meeting began each evening with the consultant introducing the Master Plan process. The consultants posed eight key questions to the people attending the forums. A total of sixty-seven citizens participated in the four public forums. The meeting facilitator asked each question, requested clarification if needed, and recorded all of the responses. Each person had an opportunity to participate. In one case, a neighborhood leader solicited responses in writing prior to the public meeting. A total of thirty-eight surveys were presented to the facilitator, and a summary of those comments were accepted and recorded in this report. The responses have been reviewed, and a qualitative analysis process has been applied to identify the key issues raised from the public. Each key issue was recorded, and a comparative analysis of key issues identified in the focus groups, citizen survey, and public forums was completed to validate the findings in this report.

Key Findings of the Public Forums

The participants in the public forums saw the greatest strengths of the Department to be the staff and their ability to try and serve the community?s needs with limited resources. The participants liked the diversity of programs being offered and the quality of the programs. They appreciated the number of parks available and the different types of parks available. The participants wanted the city to make shade more of a priority in parks and around pools, and they wanted the city to add more pools or family aquatic centers. Safety in parks is becoming one of the concerns for the public. Participants wanted parks to be designed based on the demographics of the neighborhood and their needs versus a cookie-cutter approach where they all look alike. Participants wanted to see game fields lighted and more practice fields added.

Participants of the public forums wanted the city to develop partnerships with other agencies in program and facility development. They wanted the city to access schools after hours for program development. They wanted the city to seek regional planning of recreation facilities and programs with other city recreation agencies to leverage resources. They saw the value of neighborhood organizations partnering with the city on maintaining and securing neighborhood parks. Participants felt the city needed to establish a working agreement with land developers for setting aside park land that is usable.

Participants felt the greatest threat facing the City of Glendale is the overdevelopment of the city and losing the opportunity to acquire open space for parks. They also felt the lack of adequate amounts of recreational programming, maintenance staff and future funding for parks, programs and facilities will lower the quality of life in Glendale. The participants wanted higher levels of security in parks, so citizens can enjoy using their parks.

The forum participants wanted the city to focus on more recreation programs for children between 13 and 17 years of age. Other areas mentioned were seniors, emerging sports, girls and women in sports and self-directed recreation activities. Their overall perception of recreation services was very good.

Finally, participants felt the recreation facilities that are most needed in Glendale are teen-related facilities and multi-generation centers. More multi-use trails that connect people to parks were desired. Family aquatics centers that include deep water with in-water play features and a zero depth entry were also desired.

Citizen Survey

Overview of the Methodology

The City of Glendale Parks and Recreation Department conducted a citizen survey during the summer of 1999 to help determine parks and recreation priorities for the community. The survey was designed to obtain statistically significant results for four subareas within the city:

  • the area North of Bell Road
  • the area South of Bell Road and North of Olive
  • the area South of Olive and East of Grand
  • the area West of Grand

The goal was to obtain at least 200 surveys completed in each of the four areas for a total of 800 completed surveys.

An eight-page survey was mailed to a randomly selected sample of 3,200 households in the City of Glendale. Approximately ten days after the surveys were mailed, residents who received the surveys were contacted by phone. Those who indicated that they had not returned the survey were given the option of completing it by phone.

Of the 3,200 households that received a survey, 408 completed the survey by phone and 499 returned it by mail for a total of 907 completed surveys. There were no statistically significant differences in the responses to the survey based on the method of administration (phone vs. mail).

The results for the random sample of 907 households have a 95% level of confidence with a precision of at least +/- 3.4%. The results for each zone have a 95% level of confidence with a precision of at least +/-6.9%.

Key Findings of the Citizen Survey

Programs: Awareness, Participation, and Priorities

  • Nearly one-third (32%) of the households surveyed indicated that at least one member of their household participated in Glendale Parks and Recreation programs during the previous year. Although 68% of the households surveyed did not participate, most of the respondents (89%) knew that the city offers parks and recreation programs.
  • Of the households surveyed, where the respondent or a member of their households participated in Glendale Parks and Recreation programs during the previous year, 92% indicated that the quality of the recreational programs offered by the city has been good (58%) or excellent (34%). A very low percentage (1%) of respondents indicated that the quality was poor.
  • The sources of information that were most frequently mentioned by residents who participate in parks and recreation programs were: the Glendale Parks and Recreation Booklet (53%), flyers and brochures (43%), and The Connection newsletter that is sent with the water bill (36%). Other sources that were mentioned included: notices in the newspaper (29%), friends and co-workers (28%), visiting or calling a parks and recreation office (12%), public service announcements (8%), cable television (8%), and the city website (3%). Because citizens use a variety of information outlets, these percentages will add up to more than (100%).
  • More than two-thirds of those surveyed (69%) indicated that they or other members of their household use recreation programs and facilities provided by organizations other than the City of Glendale. The three most frequently listed organizations were churches (26%), private health clubs (24%), and local schools (19%).
  • The most important groups for the city to serve with parks and recreation programming and services based on the sum of the top choices given by respondents are grade school children (55%), teenagers (52%), and families (50%).

Parks and Facilities - Usage, Satisfaction, and Priorities

  • Nearly three-fourths (72%) of those surveyed indicated that at least one member of their household had visited a city park during the past year. Although one-fourth (28%) of the respondents indicated they had not visited a city park during the past year, 89% of those surveyed indicated that they knew where city parks were located. Of those who have visited a city park during the past year, 35% rated the overall condition of the parks as excellent, good 53%; fair 10%, or poor 1%; and 1% did not provide a rating.
  • The top five reasons residents do not use city parks and recreation facilities more often are that they are too busy to use them (45%), they think outdoor facilities are too hot during summer months (27%), existing facilities are not located near their homes (17%), they do not know where the facilities are located (14%), and they think security at city parks and recreation facilities is poor (13%).
  • Residents were asked to rate their satisfaction with the availability of various types of parks and recreation facilities in the City of Glendale on a five-point scale where "5" meant "very satisfied" and "1" meant "very dissatisfied." Satisfaction with availability indicates how well the number of facilities meets the needs of residents; it does not necessarily reflect satisfaction with the condition of the facilities. The facilities that had the highest and lowest levels of satisfaction related to their availability are listed below (the percentages have been adjusted to exclude "don?t know" responses).

Top 5 Items Combined Percentage of "Very Satisfied" & "Satisfied" Ratings

  • Neighborhood Parks 66%
  • Playgrounds for Children 62%
  • Picnic Facilities 61%
  • Softball Fields 58%
  • Baseball Fields 57%

Bottom 5 Items Combined Percentage of "Very Satisfied" & "Satisfied" Ratings

  • Ice Skating Rinks 12%
  • Skateboard Facilities 18%
  • Inline Skating/Hockey Facilities 22%
  • Equestrian Trails 24%
  • Indoor Swimming Pools 25%

The most important parks and recreation facilities to city residents based on the sum of the top choices given by respondents are: neighborhood parks (36%), walking and biking trails (34%), picnic facilities (32%), playgrounds for children (30%), large multi-use parks (24%), and open space areas (20%).

Perceptions about the condition of facilities are reflected in the importance residents place on improvements that could be made to existing parks and recreation facilities. The most important improvements that residents think should be made to existing parks based on the sum of the top choices given by respondents are: increasing the visibility of law enforcement (59%), renovating neighborhood parks (38%), renovating playgrounds (25%), linking neighborhood parks with walking and biking trails (23%), and adding lighting to outdoor sports fields (21%).

Perceived Role for the City?s Parks and Recreation Department

The most important roles for the Parks and Recreation Department based on the sum of the top choices given by respondents are providing after-school programs for children (46%), providing outdoor recreation facilities (41%), and developing and maintaining parks and open spaces (39%). Other roles that were considered to be important by a significant number of residents included: preserving the environment (28%), providing indoor recreation facilities (26%), and providing recreation programs for all residents of the city (25%).

City Priorities

Compared to public safety, streets, and utilities, 90% of those surveyed think that improvements to the city?s parks and recreation facilities are very important (43%) or somewhat important (47%). 5% of those surveyed thought improvements to parks and recreation facilities were not important, and 5% did not have an opinion.

Half (50%) of those surveyed thought the City of Glendale should emphasize improvements to existing parks and recreation facilities over the next ten years; about one-fourth (26%) of those surveyed thought the city should emphasize the acquisition of more land for new parks; 19% thought the city should emphasize the construction of new parks and recreation facilities, 3% thought the city should emphasize other items, and 2% did not have an opinion.

Registration and Fees

Nearly half (45%) of those surveyed indicated that they would be either very likely (22%) or somewhat likely (23%) to register for parks and recreation classes on the Internet.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of those surveyed think non-residents should be charged more than residents of Glendale to participate in parks and recreation programs and to use recreation facilities provided by the City of Glendale. One-fourth (25%) thought non-residents should be charged the same as residents; 12% of those surveyed did not have an opinion.

Focus Groups

The Evaluation Process

Fourteen focus group sessions were conducted over a period of three days. Approximately 130 community members participated overall. Community leaders and stakeholders participated in focus group sessions of 10-12 people each. Those participants were selected based on their knowledge and experience of the Park and Recreation system. Additionally, six City Council Members, the City Manager, and three Deputy City Managers were interviewed individually. Twenty-six questions were asked in the community focus groups related to specific issues of parks, facilities, and recreation programs. Ten questions were asked in the elected official and City Management Team interviews related to broader issues of values, principles, and visions of the future.

The focus group facilitators asked each question, requested clarification if needed, and recorded all of the responses. The facilitator did not lead the discussion into specific areas, nor impose ideas that were not generated from the participants. After all the focus group sessions had been completed, and all the responses had been reviewed, a qualitative analysis process was used to identify key issues. The frequency in which they were mentioned, and the consistency that they were mentioned from group to group identified those key issues. Consensus was gained by analyzing the importance of the issues the Master Plan must address and solve.

The resulting key issues were then used as a basis to develop the citizen survey instrument. A draft survey instrument was prepared to gain a valid citizen response to key issues and to compare with the findings from the focus groups. The City Council-approved survey instrument was then administered.

Key Findings of the Focus Groups

The participants in the focus groups are generally pleased with the Park and Recreation system. They feel strongly that the Parks and Recreation staff is helpful and caring. Improvements in park maintenance guidelines are needed. More space for indoor and outdoor activities is needed. The members interviewed would like to see the parks linked through a series of greenways and trails. There is a desire to increase the parklands in under-served areas, and update older existing parks. Over-use of game fields is a concern of many community leaders. The participants would like the city to add facilities that are multi-use, and they would support developing and operating intergenerational facilities. This would include space for indoor swimming, indoor sports, classrooms, meeting spaces and indoor playground spaces. The community members interviewed would like to see the city develop a skate park and another regional park like Sahuaro Ranch Park.

The program areas that the community members interviewed would like to see developed the most are teens and older adult programs. There were mixed views on the city subsidizing youth sports, and participants felt the game fields provided by the city ought to be made available to all community members, not just sport associations. Many residents felt that youth groups should cover the costs of maintenance on fields.

The community members interviewed felt the city should use several methods of paying for park development. This included increased taxation and use of developer impact fees. More partnerships with the private sector are desired along with the non-profit sector and other public agencies. Most of the respondents felt a combination of taxes and user fees were needed to fund the development of facilities and program services. Tax levels to user fee levels were desired to be 70% tax support and 30% user fees supported. The participants were supportive of charging non-Glendale residents a different fee to access programs.

The majority of residents in the focus groups felt Thunderbird Conservation Park should stay as it is or increase levels of conservation programs in the park. The community would like the city to encourage more volunteerism to increase advocacy for parks in the city and more distribution of informational materials through various distribution methods. More developed parkland in the south and west part of the city was desired along with game fields and trails. The north part of the city was also mentioned to be in need of parks.

The majority of the participants in the focus groups said they would support the idea of increasing taxes for the purpose of acquiring and developing parks and recreation facilities if packaged effectively in a bond issue. Many participants would like the city to spend bond proceeds in the front end of the issue versus the end of the bond period, because the needs are high due to the rising cost of land.

Elected Officials

The Evaluation Process

The consulting team interviewed each council member individually. Ten questions were asked of each official. Each district council member response was based upon their perception of their constituent's needs and what they believed was best for the City of Glendale.

Key Findings of Interviews with Elected Officials

The interviewed council members felt the key issue the city needed to focus on was the limited amount of publicly and privately developed parklands. They felt there was a need for new and renovated recreation facilities. They felt the community wants to see trail linkages that connect parks and facilities to neighborhoods. They felt acquisition of undeveloped land for parks in future neighborhoods is something the city must address.

The elected officials interviewed see the staff commitment as a real strength. The G.R.A.S.P. program is viewed as a very successful core program along with many other programs with limited resources.

The elected officials want the city and city management to focus on parkland acquisition, park development and redevelopment of older parks and more program expansion. They recognize the shortages in the amount of park amenities within the existing system and that equity distribution problems may exist throughout the city. They feel that all staff who has direct contact with the public needs to be well trained and well informed. More law enforcement and safety surveillance by police is needed. They feel that the City of Glendale has to ensure that residents have full accessibility to all parks and recreation services. Parks should provide a family friendly atmosphere that helps continually build a positive image for the city. They feel this will help promote economic development, and portray high quality of life values to its residents.

The interviewed elected officials see the Park Master Plan being implemented in a reasonable and cost effective manner. They feel the city needs to be proactive in acquiring land now in order to save money in the future. Overall, the elected officials see parks and recreation's rank of importance positioned between the 5th and 10th departments funded in the city.

City Management

The Evaluation Process

The consulting groups interviewed each city management member individually. Ten questions were asked, each session lasted about one hour.

Key Findings of Interviews with City Management

The management staff felt the city needs to measure citizen demands for new and upgraded open space, park and facilities every two or three years. They recognized the need for developing new parks and renovating existing parks. They would like the city to creatively pursue new financing methods to deliver more parks and facilities, and improvements to existing parks. They recognize that improvements to existing parks and facilities are important to citizens and they would like maintenance guidelines increased. The management staff sees the staff as a key strength of the Department even though it has a very limited budget. They feel the recreation staff has done a good job in program development for youth.

The management staff feels the lack of adequate funding for parks and programs and the need to train staff to increase knowledge base and leadership skills is the greatest weakness. They would like to create more earned income opportunities to finance park programs and facilities for the future.

The management team feels the Parks and Recreation system should be accessible and distributed equally throughout the neighborhoods, and customer service standards need to be high. More efforts to establish strategic partnerships to create an integral park system are desired. Regional planning with neighborhood communities and the county to link parks through trails is desired. They would like the city to build a couple of multi-generation centers in the future to create a greater sense of community.



Understanding the demographic environment is important for the following reasons:

  • To understand the market area being served and distinguish customer groups.
  • To determine changes that are occurring in the area and make proactive decisions to accommodate these shifts. People?s wants change with age.
  • To consider the department?s own objectives and resources in relationship to the demographic makeup.

An estimated Recalculation of the Glendale Population Figures

The following charts use the 2000 Census total population figure, Claritas? percentages for each age group based on the original report to calculate an estimated age breakdown for 2000 and for 2005 projections. The percentage change figure was used to produce the 2005 projections. This is an estimate only. The census 2000 age, gender and economic characteristics will not be released until late this year and in the first half of 2002, which will allow a much better analysis of the growth in Glendale.

From the Census 2000, the redistricting of Glendale?s local legislative districts will probably occur. This will change the figures originally cited in the previous report. Those figures are based on the 1990 census tracts. It will be impossible to estimate how those will be mapped at this time.

The release dates of pertinent information is as follows:

  • Population and housing characteristics by place (city)- April ?December 2001
  • Demographic, social, economic and housing characteristics by census tracts- March ? May 2002


The City of Glendale 1990 population was at 148,134 and in Census 2000, the population was calculated to be 218,812 and projected to increase to 241,397 by the year 2005. This was calculated based on the same percentages provided by Claritas in the original report.
The increases in the population are occurring in the age group of 55-69 with the age group of 10-14 showing the highest increase among the under 18 age groups. The aging of the baby boomers, who account for the highest amount of the population, impact the growth in the older age groups. It is projected nationally that by the year 2010, women between the ages of 40 and 64 will be the largest age demographic group.

The three highest income levels are ranked as follows:

1989 Census

$35,000 - $49,999


$50,000 - $74,999


$15,000 - $24,999

The Glendale population is comprised mostly of whites at 65% from the 2000 Census. This is followed by Hispanics at 25% from Census 2000 and African Americans/Blacks are ranked third at 4%. The rest of the community is made up of other races, and the new category of 2 or more races.

Equity Mapping and Analysis Findings

Overview and Process

The purpose of creating equity maps for parks, recreation facilities, and cultural amenities is to analyze the current status of park distribution related to population distribution. The analysis identifies whether or not there is equitable positioning of parks by specific classifications for use by all citizens. The graphic maps (located in the Appendix) identify the need for parks by each classification related to population density. In some cases, there may not be a need identified due to sufficient access to parks and facilities.

Canals and freeways, were considered to be barriers to pedestrian and bicycle access to parks with service areas less than one mile. Facilities with service areas fifteen miles or larger were located accordingly, but service areas are not graphically shown. Population density was depicted by number of housing units per section based on the 1995 special census. Three categories of population range provided an opportunity to understand the relationship between the park facility and service areas with the concentration of potential users.

The process included mapping parks and recreation and cultural facilities by comparable type and classification over a city map with population densities identified for each neighborhood area. The seven equity maps were separated into seven classifications: neighborhood parks, community parks, regional and urban parks, open space corridors, special use facilities-recreational activity, special use facilities-cultural activities, and special use facilities-community centers. Park classifications followed current City of Glendale guidelines. When no guideline was applicable, National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) 1996 guidelines were used. Limits of each service area are based on City of Glendale guidelines.

Service Area Radius Guide

The current guidelines for service areas are:

  • Park Facility Current City Guidelines
    • Neighborhood Parks 1 mile radius
    • Community Parks 3 mile radius
    • Regional and Urban Parks 30 minute drive distance
    • Conservation Parks varies based on size
    • Neighborhood Pools 3 mile radius
    • Adult Centers No City Guideline
    • Community Centers 3 mile radius
    • Museums and Libraries None
    • Golf Courses None

Key Findings

Park Facilities Neighborhood and Community

The "Neighborhood" and "Community" equity maps, located in the appendix, illustrate the existing location and service area for mini, neighborhood, community and potential parks within the city:

  • Out of 51 one square mile areas bounded by major roadways, not including Thunderbird and Sahuaro Ranch Parks, 46 areas (90%) have a current or planned neighborhood park.
  • The area north of the Agua Fria Freeway, south of Deer Valley Road, west of 59th Avenue, and east of 67th Avenue currently has nine acres of privately owned parkland. The need for city-developed parks is not an immediate concern.
  • Future development of the New River Recreation Corridor and development of the Grand Canal Linear Park can be planned to satisfy the needs of current and future residents in west Glendale.
  • A significant gap in amenitized neighborhood parks occurs between Northern Avenue and Olive Avenue, west of 59th Avenue. A high concentration of residents is currently traveling longer distances to visit parks with limited amenities.
  • Park acreage and amenities are generally smaller than what the citizen demand would suggest. Sixty one percent of all neighborhood parks are five acres or less.
  • Seventy five percent of the community parks are small in size compared to NRPA 1996 guidelines.
  • Two neighborhood parks were recently built in the area north of Bethany Home Road, south of Glendale Avenue and west of 69th Avenue, which is growing in population to 3,000-6,000 residents.
  • There is an acceptable pattern of one neighborhood park per square mile, but there are park service gaps in each of the four planning zones.
  • Park facilities development along Skunk Creek is a good example of locating community amenities adjacent to future open space/pathway corridors. Future facility developments may want to be located along New River, Grand Canal, Thunderbird Paseo Park and Skunk Creek.

Park Facilities - Regional and Urban

The "Regional and Urban" equity map (see Appendix) illustrates the existing location and service area for urban, regional and potential parks within the city.

  • Four square-miles in the southeastern part of the city are outside the acceptable service area for current or future regional parks.
  • The future regional park at 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road is well-sited for future park needs. It will provide regional park services for the densely populated area near O'Neil and Bicentennial Parks.
  • The distribution of current and planned regional parks is good citywide, with the exception of the areas to the southeast.

Special Use Facility-Recreational Activity

The "Recreational Activities" equity map (see Appendix) illustrates the existing location and service area for school and golf facilities within the city.

  • The two 9-hole public golf courses adequately serve central and southwestern Glendale. There are no 18-hole, low daily fee public courses in Glendale.
  • High daily fee courses in North Glendale are of good quality. Pricing and access are barriers for the average golfer in the market.
  • Three elementary schools are planned to be built north of the Agua Fria Freeway. Six elementary schools are planned to be built west of 67th Avenue. This represents nine potential schools / park development opportunities.

Special Use Facility-Cultural Activity

The "Cultural Activity" equity map (located in the Appendix) illustrates the existing location and service area for libraries, museums, and specialty use facilities within the city.

  • The city has good library services throughout the developed areas of the community.
  • There are no city-operated / city-owned museums in Glendale. The historical facility at Sahuaro Ranch Park is the closest type of similar amenity.
  • In addition to the planned library at 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home, planning for a museum facility in West Glendale would provide adequate cultural services for emerging neighborhoods.

Special Use Facility-Community Centers

The "Community Centers" equity map (see Appendix) illustrates the existing location and service area for community and athletic centers within the city.

  • Significant gaps in adult center services occur in all areas, except in Central Glendale.
  • Gaps in community center services occur in north Glendale, though a center is planned at Foothills Park. When the multi-generation center is built at 83rd Avenue and Bethany Home Road, this will adequately service west Glendale.
  • Gaps in Aquatic center services occur in north and southwest portions of the city.
  • The city owns two Aquatic facilities in southeast Glendale, and partners with the school district on five joint-use pools.

Open Space Corridors

The "Open Space Corridors" equity map (see Appendix) illustrates the existing location and access points for linear open space including riverways, rail corridors, canal corridors, and utility corridors.

  • Glendale has excellent opportunities to develop a linked open space system along rivers, canals and railway corridors.
  • There are minimal open space linkages that connect parks to neighborhoods.
  • Advance planning along the Grand Canal can establish access points and park nodes that work well with future neighborhood development.
  • Few bike paths in non-street corridors exist. Most occur in road right-of-ways.
  • There is an opportunity to regionally plan the open space system with neighboring communities. Linkages to and from Glendale?s activity areas, and connections to regional trails would add value to the current system.
  • The Agua Fria Freeway can be an open space system barrier if pedestrian pathways are not considered. Currently, pedestrians use at-grade crossings on streets in north Glendale.
  • Potential open space connections to Phoenix and the northwest Valley using the rail corridor along Grand Avenue is a possibility worth investigating.
  • Current equestrian trails provide access to/from Thunderbird Park to residents in north Glendale, and to New River for residents along the Grand Canal. Potential connections to Lake Pleasant, Peoria Sports Complex, ASU West Campus and Estrella Mountain Regional Park are possible along river corridors and existing equestrian trails.

Benchmark Analysis of Four Comparable Cities

A comparative study of four similar cities was undertaken by sending a survey to the participating cities. The cities included Mesa, Arizona; Henderson, Nevada; Tempe, Arizona; and Chandler, Arizona. The survey collected data in the areas of parks and facility guidelines, maintenance guidelines, cost recovery, agency budget and staffing levels, program fees and facility fees.

The primary objective of the Benchmark Analysis was to determine how Glendale compared to the other four cities in the aforementioned areas. A complete file of all data received is included in the Benchmark Data section of the appendix.

Key Findings

Parks and Open Space

When benchmarked against the four cities, Glendale exceeds the number of parks, but not in acreage. In the amount of total acres, Glendale has less acreage than the other cities, except Henderson. Tempe, by square mile size and by population, has more park acreage than any of the compared cities. Mesa has the highest total of park acreage.

Glendale has one very substantial natural resource area and a great trail bikeway system (now up to 90+ miles on-street bike routes and 25+ miles off-road bike paths and trails). With the Traffic Engineering Department managing and aggressively pursuing grants to expand bike paths, Glendale Parks and Recreation has a great resource to tap into and connect their parks and natural trails.

The park types that are most deficient when compared to Tempe, Chandler and Henderson are the neighborhood parks by 2-4 acres, the community parks by 15-17 acres, the regional parks by 95-200 acres and the sports complexes by 55-90 acres. Glendale meets the range guidelines for park types in most categories though it is on the lower end of the range. Even though the parkland provided is consistent with the current Parks Master Plan, it is less than the NRPA guidelines.

Glendale's current guidelines suggest 8-9 acres/1,000 and is at 8.29 acres/1,000 for the 1999 census count.

The findings indicate that the cities responding to the benchmark survey meet the National Park and Recreation Association recommended 1996 guidelines for 1-2 acres/1,000 population for neighborhood parks but are slightly below the guideline for 5-8 acres/1,000 population for community parks.

The City of Glendale Parks and Recreation Department provides 1 acre/1,000 population for neighborhood parks, which is low, but within the NRPA recommended guideline of 1-2 acres/1,000 population, and consistent with the current Parks Master Plan. The Department has .50 acres/1,000 population for community parks which is well below the NRPA recommended guideline of 5-8 acres/1,000 population for community parks. The Department has 1 acre/1,000 population for regional parks, which is within the NRPA recommended guideline of 1-2 acres/1,000 population for regional parks. Although NRPA does not have a guideline for regional conservation parks, the city has excellent access to 5.80 acres/1,000 population at Thunderbird Conservation Park.


Currently, there seems to be either very few sports facilities (Planning Zones One and Three) or an abundance of sport facilities (Planning Zone Two). Based on recreation guidelines and comparison to the other cities, Glendale will need to develop more facilities or partner with other recreation service providers in the city to meet the demands of the growing population.

Glendale is well ahead of most of the other cities with racquetball courts (48), tennis courts (36), outdoor volleyball (7), exercise courses (3), and neighborhood playgrounds (59). In all other categories of recreational amenities and facilities, Glendale has less than the other cities, except for Henderson.

Glendale overwhelmingly exceeds the other cities, except Henderson, overwhelmingly in the total miles allocated toward non-park bike paths at 120 miles. For other trails such as nature trails, equestrian trails, all terrain bike trails, Glendale has the most developed system.

The multi-purpose fields in Glendale may accommodate sports, such as soccer and football. The 9-hole and 18-hole golf courses are supplied by private or semi-public courses in the city. No gymnasiums are included in the five recreation centers listed.

Glendale surpasses the other cities in picnic sites, but not in shelters/ramadas. Mesa has the highest number of shelters/ramadas, with 117. Glendale does have an in-line hockey rink, which is one of the recent trends in recreation. Due to the projection of increases in the age 17 and younger demographic groups, other recreation trends should be considered as such as skateboard parks and climbing walls. Both Mesa and Chandler have skateboard parks under construction.

Maintenance Guidelines

Glendale is deficient in maintenance guidelines for park structures and fixtures, mowing, sports facilities, recreation facilities, maintenance frequencies and labor productivity. In comparison to the other cities, Glendale had the least established maintenance guidelines, even though they do contract maintenance service to private companies. The maintenance frequencies are lacking in all cities except for Tempe and all cities do not have labor productivity guidelines.

Guidelines should be developed in order to monitor the effectiveness of contracted services as well as internal maintenance services. Creating activity-based costing models for each area will assist in determining efficiencies in the department, eliminating duplication of processes and identifying other areas for contracting services.

Cost Recovery

In comparison to the other cities, Glendale subsidizes their programs direct costs at a higher rate than the other cities. Glendale also does not recover any of the indirect costs or charge back other departments for park services, but neither did Henderson, Chandler or Mesa. Tempe did recover 10% of their outdoor pool admissions indirect costs and did charge the other city departments for park services.

Cooperative Use of Facilities

Glendale has the same cooperative use agreements as Tempe and Chandler. Mesa was the only city that did not have written agreements with the schools nor did they have special user group agreements. The types of facilities and activities shared vary by city and include use of athletic fields, classrooms for after-school programs, pools and gyms. Glendale and Mesa had the lowest percentage of programs conducted on park property. They both conduct a large percentage of programs on school property.

Agency Annual Budget and Staffing

The findings indicate that a General Fund supports most of the departments. Only Glendale, Chandler and Tempe had an enterprise fund operation. Glendale, Tempe and Mesa had fees and charges assisting funding. Chandler and Glendale had a sales tax and developer impact fees as funding methods. As compared to the other cities, Glendale had the most variety of funding methods.

The total operating budgets ranged from $6.5 million to $23.2 million dollars. The estimated fees and charges for fiscal year 1999 ? 2000 ranged from $772,000 to $5.9 million. Glendale has the lowest fee estimates of all the comparable cities.

Capital Improvement Program

The average planning horizon for capital improvement programs is five years except for Glendale, which is ten years, according to the findings. Tempe has the lowest per year expenditure on capital improvements of $2.4 million and the second lowest is Glendale at $3.83 million per year. The money allocated for improvements ranged from $12 million to $122 million (Henderson). The high growth rate of Henderson, Nevada accounts for the large amount of funds allocated for capital improvements. The most popular way to fund capital projects is through General Obligation Bonds. The second was some form of tax, and third is through grants.

Non-Traditional Parks and Recreation Functions

It is not typical for the responding agencies to conduct non-traditional parks and recreation functions. However, most agencies participate in beautification projects within their parks. Tempe, Chandler and Henderson did mow the street medians and shoulders. Tempe and Chandler also performed reforestation of public areas.

Adults Sports Programs

The City of Glendale is offering more games and charging less for the softball leagues. They are charging less per person and per team than any other city. The team rate of $300 for a 16-game season equates to $18.75 per game. The other cities range from $20.72 to $28.57 for each game. Basketball is more in line with the other cities. Volleyball and football are set up like softball ? a longer season for a lower fee. Glendale was the only city that did not have a charge for non-residents.

At a minimum,the City should do a full activity-based costing of direct and indirect expenses and move the price, where appropriate, to full cost recovery. Nationally, the practice is for departments to recover 100% of direct and indirect costs for adult sports programs.

Youth Sports Programs

The amount of games listed for the various recreation activities is extremely high when compared to the other cities. There must be some sort of variation of league and game structuring for Glendale.

Nationally, the practice is for departments to recover 50% of direct and indirect costs for youth sports programs. Currently, the City of Glendale only recovers 25% of direct costs only.

Non-Resident Fees

Non-resident fee policies vary among the respondents. Much like Tempe, Glendale only charges an additional $1.00 for summer golf to non-residents. Opinions of non-resident fee policy vary among the respondents.


All cities had a registration software/application in place and required pre-registration with payment for programs. Chandler and Glendale did not have satisfaction guaranteed programs.

Outdoor Facility Rentals

The fees charged by Glendale for unlighted athletic fields are average compared to the other responding agencies. The fees assessed for lighted athletic fields are inconsistent with the average charged by the other agencies. The fees for lighted and unlighted tennis court rentals are at the low end. Fees for picnic shelter reservations are below the average market rate of the respondents for all size groups.

Specialty Facility Fees

Outdoor swimming pool fees for Glendale are average to low compared to respondents and national guidelines.

Each agency identified children, youth, adult and senior by differing ages. Glendale uses the following breakdown: children under 3, youth 3 ? 19, adult 20 ? 55, and senior 55+. Chandler uses the following breakdown: children under 2, youth 3 ? 17, adult 18+. Tempe and Henderson use the following breakdown: children under 6, youth 6 ? 17, adult 18 ? 55, and senior 55+.

User Fee Analysis

The pricing philosophy and approach in Glendale reflects a very conservative mindset. Current practices for pricing consumptive services is undervalued for the level of benefit received. Most cities price consumptive services based against a subsidy level for each program provided. Costs are tracked against direct and indirect costs. Ideally, the City needs to develop an overall pricing policy that addresses all aspects of pricing to include the following:

  • Programs
  • Admissions
  • Permits
  • Rentals
  • Concessions
  • Tournament use

The City of Glendale has recommended subsidy levels for youth programs at 75%, senior programs at 50% and adult programs at 0%. The adult program subsidy levels follow national management trends but the youth and senior programs are at higher levels. Using youth sports as an example, team sports normally receive higher tax subsidy levels than individual sports. Subsidy levels in senior programs vary by type of activity. For example, in senior trips there is typically no subsidy level, while education programs receive 30% subsidy levels.

Glendale also needs to establish a consistent non-resident pricing policy. There are non-resident rates; however, the percentages vary between residents and non-residents. Today many cities use differential pricing for programs and facilities. The pricing focuses on primetime, non-primetime.


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