A walk in the Phoenix Mountains with my Mom last week

I took a walk with my mom in the Phoenix Mountains Preserve on Monday. It was a gorgeous day and even though we only had time for about an hour of walking, it was refreshing and an enjoyable way to start the day.

I walk pretty frequently in the mountain park, usually just for an hour or so, starting at the 40th Street trailhead just down the street from the house.

The sign that tipped me off
One of the things I enjoy most about living in the northeast valley is the proximity to the mountains.

Unfortunately, I was a bit surprised to walk past a sandwich board sign on Monday explaining that the trailhead may soon be affected by city-wide budget cuts. Deep budget cuts.

On the trail, I overhead some other hikers say something about the trailhead being closed. When I got home, I checked out the details. Sure enough, the proposed budget would close the trails on Mondays and Tuesdays:

Reduce park rangers assigned to mountain parks and preserves, further reducing hours at mountain parks and preserves to 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.

Shit. I often hike past 7pm during the warmer months, and I frequently use the trail on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the year.

Now, I’m well aware that the city’s budget shortfall is monstrous. And I’m equally aware that there are no easy decisions and that every department and service is tightening its belt. There is no magic wand to fix the problem, and everyone will feel the pain.

But this is also the time to get involved. First, check out all of the proposed cuts. Attend a community meeting and ask questions. Or just call or email your councilperson, as I just did. Or contact the Phoenix Parks and Conservation Foundation and see how you can support the city park system as a whole.

Just get involved. Don’t let such a major decision—one that affects the lives of all Phoenicians—to be made without any input from yourself.

For what it’s worth, here’s the full listing of cuts in the Parks and Rec Department alone. Scary stuff.

Parks and Recreation Proposed funding cuts — 15.1%

Eliminate funding for the Latino Institute for special events, and reduce funding by 50 percent for Cinco De Mayo, Pride and Martin Luther King events.

Reduce frequency of contracted palm tree pruning from every year to every other year on 14 major streets and Enchanted Island at Encanto Park.

Eliminate equestrian patrol program used on trails at South Mountain Park, the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, the Sonoran Preserve, Papago Park and flatland parks.

Eliminate a deputy parks director, eight recreation coordinators, a management assistant I and two secretary II positions that provide support for volunteer coordination, youth and adult sports programs, and public information services.

Close Cortez Pool. Because recent inspections found damage that will require repairs to the pool shell and gutter system estimated at a cost of $900,000, the pool will be closed indefinitely.

Close Shemer Art Center and Museum and seek public/private partnerships in an effort to restore some services. Revenue generated from this program is estimated at $9,000.

Eliminate Daring Adventures, River of Dreams and support for Special Olympics. Revenue generated from this program is estimated at $8,000.

Reduce staff and programs at the Pueblo Grande Museum, including custodial services, and archaeological review of public and private construction projects.

Reduce maintenance and supervision at Papago Park, Rio Salado Restoration Area Project and South Mountain Park.

Eliminate seven park rangers, resulting in closing mountain parks and preserves and gated trailheads at 7 p.m. daily. Facilities with gated access will not be open for summer holidays.

Close Phoenix Center for the Arts. More than 16,000 patrons use the facility, which generates $26,000 in revenue annually. The city will seek public/private partnerships to assist in restoring the center’s operations.

Reduce hours at Desert West Softball Complex, including closing it during the week and at night on weekends. Annual revenue is estimated at $30,000.

Reduce citywide street landscape maintenance by more than 32 percent. Maintenance frequency for major arterial areas will be driven by citizen complaint and emergencies, and it will take up to a week to respond.

Reduce neighborhood and community park maintenance.

Close Arizona Horse Lovers Park, North Mountain and South Mountain Visitor Centers, and Rio Salado Customer Service Center. This will eliminate all community use of the horse arenas and maintenance of the 18 mile trail system. Estimated revenue from these facilities is $39,000.

Eliminate citywide softball program and part-time maintenance staff in the Northwest and Northeast divisions. The citywide softball program serves approximately 10,000 participants and generates $43,000 in revenue. The program will end in July 2010 at the close of the current season.

Eliminate recreation programming and staff supervision at the Rose Mofford and Encanto Park sports complexes. The facilities will be open to the public but activities will be unsupervised. Annual revenue loss is estimated at $74,000.

Significantly reduce staff for special facilities and events at Margaret T. Hance and Civic Space parks, including the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Irish Cultural Center. Hance Park activities generated more than $14,000 in revenue, and Civic Space Park activities generated $4,000 in revenue.

Close Tovrea Castle Park and increase span of control in the Natural Resources Division. The thousands of plants at Tovrea Castle will receive minimal care, and the building and grounds will deteriorate. Tours of the Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area will no longer be provided.
Close Camp Colley, an outdoor adventure camp located in northern Arizona that provides structured, supervised recreation opportunities for young people.

Reduce maintenance and programming at the Reach 11 Soccer Complex and the Diamondbacks Field of Dreams Baseball Complex.

Eliminate the Phoenix Afterschool Centers (PAC) summer program and funding for the Boys and Girls Club program, impacting 2,200 children at 16 locations. Reductions include staff and $249,000 in estimated revenue. This will reduce support to the Homes and Gable Boys and Girls teen programs.

Close eight neighborhood recreation centers that are open only in the summer. Neighborhood recreation centers offer 8-week summer recreation programs and activities for youth ages 7-17 at Barrios Unidos, Central, Grant, Holiday, Smith, South Phoenix Youth Center and Thunderbird Teen Center. These seven centers had more than 24,000 user visits last year. The Housing Department will now fund the programs at the three recreation centers located at city-owned housing sites (S.P Osborn, Foothills and Luke Krohn). The center located at Coffelt, which is owned by the county, will be closed.

Close seven year-round neighborhood recreation centers and eliminate West Phoenix Revitalization recreation programming. The Sunnyslope Youth Center, and Verde, University, Playa Margarita, Marc Atkinson, Hayden and Harmon recreation centers have 251,000 user visits annually and offer free programs for youth and adults. Grant-funded programs for adults with developmental disabilities, and violence prevention education can no longer be supported if these centers close. This represents a loss of $327,000 in grant funds. West Phoenix Revitalization recreation programming serves hundreds of youths annually, and the city will no longer be able to fulfill its part of the West Phoenix Revitalization Plan.

Close Desert West, Rose Mofford and Papago softball complexes. These facilities serve approximately 330,000 participants annually and revenue is estimated at $221,000.

Reduce park rangers assigned to mountain parks and preserves, further reducing hours at mountain parks and preserves to 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. City-sponsored, public and private events such as National Public Lands Day and the Pueblo Grande Indian Market will no longer take place.

Eliminate the Phoenix Afterschool Centers (PAC) school-year programs. This will result in the closure of 36 general-funded sites, 14 revenue-supported sites, and five full cost-recovery sites, impacting 2,300 children. This reduction includes the loss of $200,000 in revenue and $353,000 in grant funds for the Nutrition Education and Training program.

Close 5 of 13 large community centers: Deer Valley, Desert West, Devonshire, Mountain View and the Washington Activity Center. Reduce operating hours from 65 to 40 hours per week at eight remaining community centers. Senior center operations at shared facilities will not be impacted by this reduction. Reductions include 38 full-time and 23.5 part-time positions, and revenue of $42,000.

Reduce citywide street landscape maintenance by an additional 43 percent.
Further reduce neighborhood and community park maintenance.

That’s a tremendous number of cuts. Do your part—get involved.