Beyond the Banks Planning Meeting

I recently had the opportunity to attend one of the public meetings about the Rio Salado Project.  The meeting was held on Monday March 3, 2002 at 6:30pm at the Travis L. Willams Family Services Center (corner of Central and Tamarisk). Present at the meeting were several community leaders, those who were directly involved in the Rio Salado planning process, and community residents.  Most of the community members were elderly, however there were a few young couples and families sprinkled in the mix. The majorityof the audience, ethnically speaking were of the minority.

Brief Overview of the Meeting
    Susan Sargent and Joy Mee presented the Beyond the Banks Area Draft Plan.  They went over their vision for the South Phoenix area, the six main goals of the project, and how they were going to accomplish them.  They presented plans for proposed infill housing, commercial development, parks, trails, parkways, and a scenic drive. Overall, Susan wanted her audience to be sure that if they took one thing away from her presentation it was that, through the Rio Salado project, the area is finally realizing its full potential because of its proximity... to downtown & the airport.
    The presentation of the actual Rio Salado Habitat Resotation Project filled the remainder of the meeting (all 5 minutes).  Karen Williams breifly went over the progress that is being made in the river bed.  She said that everything is moving as planned and if they continue to move as they have the project should be completed when scheduled.

My Thoughts Regarding the Meeting
    Throughout the course of the night I was pleasantly surprised at the overwhelming community acceptance of the project. Not only are the residents grateful for the great clean-up and restoration of a river in dire need of a make-over, they greatly appreciate the work that is being done to revitalize the community beyond the banks. At the meeting I was made very aware that, contrary to what I had been told in previous presentations, both the old and new residents are very much in favor of the changes taking place in their community.  I think the essence of the resident's attitudes toward the project can be captured in the comments of one elderly gentleman.  He humorously noted that he had more years in South Phoenix behind him than he did in front of him, but in that time he wanted to see several changes take place. He wanted to see this river riparian project completed, more infill housing in the area, and better commercial and retail stores so his wife does not have to travel at least 20 miles to buy a new pair of red shoes! The residents welcome a change that will ultimately encourage a sense of pride in the South Phoenix community.  They would one day like to see a river run through it! 

by Kamaili Jones


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