By Connie Cone Sexton for The Arizona Republic
Phoenix officials agreed Thursday to find professionals to turn Margaret T. Hance Park near Central Avenue and McDowell Road into a “signature park,” creating a design that will stir the public’s passion and participation.
“Great cities have great parks,” Karen Williams, a deputy parks director with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, said during a joint meeting of the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board and City Council. “Hance Park’s 32 acres is in fact the front yard or the front porch of downtown. It deserves the attention of a design firm that can come in and make it a signature park.”
There is no timeline for when changes will be made to the 20-year-old park, which lacks major amenities other than picnic areas, restrooms and walking paths.
Parks officials do not have a projected cost for new developments in the master plan. Funding could come from the Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative in collaboration with philanthropic donations, said Jim Burke, the acting parks director.
Thursday’s meeting allowed the Parks and Recreation Department to create a request for qualifications to find architects, landscape designers, lighting designers, structural engineers and others who will create designs for an enhanced park. A panel, including community residents, eventually will review submissions and recommend a team to the council.
Proposed amenities include an exercise path, food concessions in and around park boundaries, a children’s play area, community garden and a large flexible space to accommodate a variety of program uses.
Designers are to consider:
- Use of the right of way surrounding the park to improve visibility and access.
- Providing a pedestrian connection along First Street between Fillmore Street (a few blocks south of Hance Park) and McDowell Road.
- Improving access to and visible integration of the Irish Cultural Center and Japanese Friendship Garden, which are within the park boundaries
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