The Town of Florence Parks & Recreation (P&R) department submitted a Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan at the Sept. 16, 2019 Town Council Meeting. A copy of the plan is on the Town website: http://www.florenceaz.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/September-16-2019-Agenda-Packet.pdf . The P&R Director asked for feedback. Here is my feedback.
I applaud the P&R department for their hard work and the plans they have provided. This plan only serves about 30% of the town’s population. This plan targets the current town parks in the downtown area as defined as the core area. Very little is said about Anthem Sun City, Anthem Parkside, Caliente Casa De Sol, Florence Gardens, Casita Hermosa, and Vista Hermosa (the non-core areas). Anthem has approximately 2,800 homes or an estimated population of 7,400. Caliente Casa De Sol, Florence Gardens, Casita Hermosa, and Vista Hermosa have over 2,000 homes with an estimated population of 4,000 people during the winter.
A comprehensive plan should also include a plan for a community center, since 70% of the population lives north of the Gila. This center should have meeting rooms, a theater like the Gilbert/Higley Center for the Arts, a skate park, pickleball courts, picnic tables and verandas, hiking & bike trails and WiFi. The core has had WiFi for some time and has plans to expand in the core.
There is a misconception that the non-core neither wants nor needs support from the town.
Since these non-core areas have HOAs there is an assumption that the town has no responsibility to provide any services to these areas. Everything the HOAs provide is paid for by the residents monthly. However, neither the town nor the HOA provides meals to our seniors or free social services to seniors, adults, teens, and kids and WiFi as in the core. Limited special events are held in the non-core areas. I have been trying for five years to get electronic bulletin boards to advertise the events in Florence. There are no teen facilities nor teen programs in the non-core areas.
I would offer the following suggestions. Include services equally for the non-core and core based on the population, property tax and sales tax for the areas. Break the Revised Master Plan into yearly projects, with the non-core having the highest priority since the core has the new water park and library/community center. Let’s do something for all areas.
My other concern is the financing of the proposed master plan. I am not sure if grants would be available or if bonding is the primary option. If bonding is done, the bonds should be applied for core and non-core separately since the services are targeted. In any case, this should be voted on by the applicable residents.
You may or may not agree with my opinions but please provide your feedback to the P&R Director, Bryan Hughes, P.O. Box 2670, Florence, AZ 85132 or Bryan.Hughes@florenceaz.gov.
I would also like to see your feedback: John Anderson, 2631 N. Presidential Dr., Florence, AZ 85132 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John L. Anderson