OPEN LETTER....Suggestions and Ideas for the renovation of Coronado Park
June 30 2009


Click on any image for a larger view....

So what would you do with $1.3 million?  This is a good question; it's a lot of money being invested in one of the prime visible locations in the Coronado Community, our park.  The importance of the community's involvement in how this money be spent should be at least as significant an investment as the money being spent.

In an attempt to encourage more neighborhood involvement and at the suggestion of a few on the Coronado Park e-mail list, I took a walk this past weekend and had conversations with some of the people who were actually using the park that day, and also spoke with a few of my neighbors on 12th Street and Palm Lane, two of the streets that border the park.  I have been an active resident in the Coronado Neighborhood for over 30 years, and have observed first hand the changes that transformed this neighborhood and how the processes (participating in many of them over the years) for successful change has occurred. We must be respectful of the history of the area as it should be reflected in the park renovations and make sure that each aspect of change reflects that history. It is difficult for me to attend the Thursday night park meetings due to school conflicts, so I am putting this out as suggestions on the forum, e-hood and to those interested in the Coronado Park Renovation to consider.

It seems that top concerns included shade, safety and maintenance, and the ability of the park to work within the small local neighborhood context. There is a particularly harsh look to the park from the 12th Street side.  All you see is asphalt and no softening effects between the sidewalk and the street.  The harsh look of asphalt road, to concrete sidewalk to gravel on the corner of 12th and Palm is a prime illustration of this. As is the area in front of the pool, making the streetscape on our most visible portion of the Park, unappealing and cold, (actually hot since we are in Phoenix). 

  Some softening of this would go a long way to improve the image from our well traveled 12th street corridor.  It was suggested that a park sign similar to the one in front of the pool house, and in the northeast corner may be a nice addition to the corner of 12th and Palm. Perhaps a larger version of the same sign (pictured above), drawing attention away from the pump house and the irrigation valves. With proper plantings, desert plants can add vegetation as a cover, and be defensive at the same time, surrounding that area.  This would also discourage vandalism and people hanging out.

The subject of operational funding was brought up several times in conversation.  While it may be a great idea to have some additional landscape and features such as a water feature, there was concern as to the maintenance of anything that is being considered in the overall renovation.  We should consider the effects of vandalism and the money and response time to correct such things as well as regular ongoing maintenance that a water feature may require. This may result in a non-functional improvement at some future date reflecting negatively on the "feel of the park".  Concerns were raised regarding irrigation systems that would require a lot of maintenance. Since the beginning of plantings may look good, as systems fail they let the landscaping fall into neglect.  The palms at the I-10, and the streetscape along McDowell Road were described as beautiful “at one time”,  so landscaping should be designed for long term stability.

The topic of not having the park cut up and “dedicated” to specific activity areas that would require additional fencing was also raised.  While there was support for a dog area, others in the group I was talking to quickly pointed out that those are “self monitored’ and in this downtown location it may become a show ground for “pit bulls” and neglected by those who do not respect the cleanliness of the area……again back to re-creating a park that does not require monitoring, and maintenance was a concern.

There was strong support for perimeter lighting, so that the park would look inviting in the evenings and people would feel safe taking a walk in the hot summer, encountering the same people on that walk and or meeting new neighbors.  Currently there is no lighting on the perimeter on the north.  Make the park a “destination” to be included in your walk in the neighborhood, one where you meet people.  Walking along the perimeter will hopefully encourage those looking to cause trouble in the park in the evenings to perhaps go somewhere else.

We should encourage the use of the park by groups, which serves several purposes.  It breaks up the homeless inhabitants of the park by breaking up the residential aspect of not having to contend with a weekend filled with activities.  This also makes it very unpredictable for the gang members or others who may want to cause trouble, to make it a place for them to meet……..if they don’t know if there will be activity or not, they will choose another location.

Lastly, I would like to see the renovations to Coronado Park mirror the success of the traffic circle at 12th and Oak and the Virginia Plan when it comes to promoting neighborhood identity.  It was not long after the installation of the Traffic Circle that DJ Fernandez chose this as the location for the Tuck Shop restaurant, fulfilling the Town Center theme that was the original goal.  We now have eyes and ears at that intersection and the graffiti has all but disappeared.  I believe that with a proper and inclusive conversation about the park renovation, this can be mirrored on a grand scale at the Coronado Park. What an opportunity that should not be wasted.  We cannot afford to have the few make the decisions for the many and have the results be consistent with the failed 2005 Fight Back Southwest Program, which remains 90% unfinished after 4 years, and from the lack of information given to the community appears to have been abandoned by its committee as well.  This park renovation is too big an opportunity to make a very dramatic and long lasting change for the entire neighborhood to suffer the same fate.

As webmaster of the E-Hood Neighborhood Association, I have talked with the sponsors of the decorations that go up at the 12th and Oak Traffic Circle and there would be funding for similar celebrations at the park.  Just imagine the neighborhood coming out to place the flags up on the 4th of July and to spend time together decorating for the Holiday Season.

  This is as it should be, this is a community, and this should be a community project and a community park.  We must work together in this design process from the very start to resolve the challenges, transform the landscape, and integrate these renovations so they will reflect a unique perception to our area. We must all be a part of how the money is spent to create our community space! This is important because of the park's ability to contribute through its surfaces and structures, a sense of overall neighborhood pride.

While the renovations to the park are definitely constrained by safety, funding, and maintenance requirements, as well as by the desert environment we can all join together to captivate and be challenged with our individual creativity. This important renovation holds the promise to enrich the way that people live, work, play and enjoy the area surrounding the park.....our neighborhood. To do so requires a collaborative design effort and process that will re-energize the neighborhood.