By Adrian Skabelund for Arizona Daily Sun
Additional field space, a forested area and urban farm or a Native American cultural center. Each idea could be the future for a section of city property on North Mogollon Street that was once home to the public works yard.
The property’s future has been in limbo since 2012, when Flagstaff voters approved a bond to build the new public works yard on the city-owned McAllister Ranch parcel. The new facility opened in 2018.
In September of last year, the city dismantled most of the buildings occupying the old yard and ripped up much of the pavement so soil remediation could begin, according to city parks and recreation director Rebecca Sayers.
During a meeting earlier this month, the council directed city staff to organize a public process so members of the public could weigh in on the property’s future. Still, that process won’t occur until at least after July.
At that meeting, three potential options revealed themselves: additional sports fields, a park and a Native American cultural center.
One use the area is unlikely to see is housing. The city council discussed the possibility of housing on the property last year, but backed off after outcry from members of the public and community groups.
Particularly impactful in preventing the development of housing on the property, and in pushing the city to utilize the area as park land, has been the community group Friends of Thorpe Park. Made up mostly of residents of the neighborhoods surrounding the property, the group has uncovered history showing the land designated for use as a park.
Through community meetings, (group member) Rose Houk said Friends of Thorpe Park has also developed their own proposal for the future of the property, specifically turning the area into a passive park with green space.
Another idea was presented by the advocacy group Indigenous Circle of Flagstaff.
Jolene Holgate, a member of the Indigenous Circle, said Flagstaff is one of the only communities bordering the Navajo Nation that doesn’t have a designated community space for Native peoples.
A cultural center could have gardens, intergenerational programming and a space that would allow Native people to tell their own stories, both past and present.
Holgate said the Indigenous Circle plans to further develop their proposal for a cultural center so the group will be ready when the city’s process begins in earnest.
Additional Field Space
Jerry Thull, VP of the Flagstaff Soccer Club, said he hoped the council would convert at least a portion of the property into additional field space for soccer, of which he said the city is in desperate need.
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