by Steve Miller
I have been a resident and property owner in Hidden Valley since 2004. I am an avid off road enthusiast and I have spent a considerable amount of time on state land and BLM land throughout Arizona.
I support development of Palo Verde Regional Park and I believe it’s completely selfish to deny everyone the use of a regional park just because of the opposition of a few nearby residents. Everyone has an equal entitlement to the use of that area and when the county makes improvements and enhancements to that area it benefits us all – especially those who live nearby.
Neighboring parks enhance property values. Absence of a regional park in this area does not protect the open space or our freedom to use it. Most of this is BLM land and the Bureau of Land Management can close or restrict access to this area any time they see fit. A good example of this is the Butterfield Pass/Mormon Trail area north of Highway 238 between Mobile and Gila Bend. This area was closed in 2008 because BLM felt that off road vehicles and ATVs were damaging the area.
Yes, there has to be a fee to make a regional park sustainable without having to dip into tax revenue to maintain it. Pay per use is fair because those who use it and benefit from it are the ones who support it financially. The fees in place at similar parks for day use are about six dollars.
This isn’t the only regional park under consideration. There will be regional parks, the only question is where they are located. This park could just as easily directly benefit the residents of Eloy or Apache Junction or Queen Creek.
Palo Verde Regional Park will directly benefit the residents of western Pinal County more than anyone else. We should be welcoming this park, not opposing it – especially when the reasoning against it is based upon misinformation and flawed reasoning.
Look, I don’t like government meddling in our daily lives any more than anyone else. It bothers me to see tax dollars and resources going overseas. I hate knowing that the government spends billions on secret projects that they refuse to tell us about. This regional park project used money that the county already has and it is being spent to directly benefit the people who live in our community. I am sure there are secret conspiracies in government at all levels. This, however, isn’t one of them.
Those who are responsible for planning this project have been very open and transparent every step of the way. There have been multiple meetings, announced well in advance, and published online and in the local media. The planning session meetings have been open and the minutes have been published online. There has been an extraordinary effort on the part of the planning committee to reach out to everyone regarding this project. If someone isn’t informed, it’s certainly not the fault of the planners. Not only have they been open and forthcoming in announcing their activities, they have encouraged citizen contribution and participation in the development of their plans.
To counter some of the misinformation out there:
- The Palo Verde Regional Park will not raise taxes. It’s self sustaining through the use of impact fees and park day use fees.
- The park will not provide a nocturnal safe haven for those crossing the border illegally. The place to stop illegal immigration is at the border, not by denying US citizens the use of a regional park.
- There are already fences around the BLM land in question. There are also several entry gates which don’t have locks on them – yet.
- There is no government conspiracy to steal land. That land is already under the management of the federal government. The park would put it under the local management of the Pinal County government.
- Nobody’s hiding anything. There is a plethora of information published at this link:
Palo Verde Regional Park Master Plan
We should be supporting the plans to develop this regional park and using the time we have to help plan the park rather than participate in futile attempts to discourage it.
You mention that the Palo Verde Regional Park will not raise taxes and will be self-sustaining through impact fees and day park user fees. Can you provide evidence of where that has been guaranteed? From what I’ve read that’s the hope, but by no means a foregone conclusion.
You say it will be self-sustaining by day-use fees. Please show the numbers. There is absolutely NO WAY this could be true. Look up Kortsen Park’s ludicrous projections, and its actual numbers… Just a few years ago Kent Taylor stood up at the Board of Supervisors meeting and convinced them to authorize over $100,000 to improve the park…it has been 3 years and the park is not making the guaranteed minimum he promised of $35k+ per season. It pulled in a grand total of around $400 this past season. quite am embarrassing discrepancy. They continue to spend and spend…and now want to do it more! Just say NO to Kent Taylor and his overzealous spending of OUR tax money!!
For years, people stayed in Korsten/Pinal West for free. When somebody woke up and discovered that while the county was issuing permits but not collecting fees, they established fees. Prior to this, the county didn’t even have the resources to collect the fees and had an annual budget for all of their parks of only $50K. That’s barely one full time salary.
Once fees were charged, people were up in arms because something that was free was now being charged for. You can’t have it both ways – either you collect enough revenue to sustain an activity or you pay for facilities with tax dollars. I have to pay to get my trash picked up and I believe the people who put their RVs in Korsten should do the same.
Someone must protect the open space areas. If the National Park Service had not been established 100 years ago, places like Yellowstone and Yosemite would be housing developments. It’s not just about creating a park, it’s about protecting open space.
This is the planning stage for Palo Verde Regional Park. The county is giving everyone the opportunity to participate in the planning. The is no guarantee that the land will even be acquired from BLM, who can pretty much do what they please with the land. It’s certain that if a plan wasn’t submitted to BLM, the land will never be deeded over to the county.
Having control of this property under the federal government gives us a whole lot less control than if it were under the control of the local county government. And if our park officials and board of supervisors are not doing the proper job of managing our resources, we should hold them accountable, not deny ourselves a recreation area because it’s not generating enough revenue.
I don’t have a clue what the figures are for sustaining a regional park. That information was passed on at one of the park meetings by Kent Taylor. I am sure he believes that is the case and should be held accountable for it if the park is developed.
Maricopa County is doing a great job with their parks, generating enough revenue to support them, so it can be done. Maybe we need to take a page out of their book and figure out how to do it.