by Gerald Lee


Beauty or the Beast

The Rio Salado project is created to provide a scenic river preserve in South Phoenix. The project is redeveloping the existing river canal which is located from 19th avenue to 24th street and between Interstate 17 and Broadway road. This existing canal will be redesigned to contain a waterway and recreation facilities and services for the people of Phoenix. Its goal is to revive the dead river and replenish the native plants and animals. This will bring more people into the area and hopefully turn the once decayed part of Phoenix into a thriving community.

The project boasts many benefits for this restoration, which were outlined in the handout Rio Salado Restoration Project: Quick Facts. They include maximizing habitat value, trigger new development, and provide environmental education. Another handout entitled Rio Salado Beyond the Banks: Area Plan, to be used at a community meeting describes the goals and objectives of the plan.

This handout contained many interesting ideas for the project. The project hopes to create jobs and stimulate area employment by providing potential commercial development sites. They propose to protect neighborhoods from encroaching industrial businesses and provide transition for those already affected by industry and airport noises. The last bit of info I would like to share comes from the section titled Saftey. They believe that the project will protect the residents from hazardous industries and decrease crime from better area designs and police cooperation.

There are problems with these goals that may hinder the project and the area of South Phoenix. The new commercial businesses that the project wants to attract will not provide the employment opportunities that they hope for. These businesses may provide some jobs but will most likely bring in their own people or hire those from other areas. As for the protection from industrial hazards, that is unlikely also. The speaker that talked to the class said that while the project will do what it can to stop new industries from coming, it will not rid the area of the existing industries. They will only provide guidelines for the industries to become safer but the damage is already done and most destruction could come despite the regulations.  The crime issue is way misunderstood. There may be an above average crime rate in the area but the redevelopment might not impact the crime rate. In fact it may rise due to the increase of residence and their wealth. The more well-off people that arrive bring more and better opportunities for thefts and murders.

The question remains, if the project is completed and the goals accomplished, will anything improve or will the situation become worse? Will South Phoenix become the Beauty or remain the Beast?


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