On Monday, the Papago Park Executive Committee held a meeting in Scottsdale. The committee is a joint effort made up of elected and municipal officials from Tempe, Scottsdale and that tiny suburb to the west, Phoenix. It oversees the operation and planning for Papago Park, located in Tempe and Phoenix and bordering on Scottsdale. Among the current attractions in the park are the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden. And *lots* of hiking. :) It's the only significant open public land in its part of the Valley.
Anyway, to make a long story short, there have been a number of proposals floated to "improve" the park, including giving the land to developers for commercial and residential projects (floated by attorney Grady Gammage, a favorite of developers.)
When I came across the agenda for the meeting, my interest was piqued by this entry -
Olsson and Associates presentation on Great American Parks
"Great American Parks" rung a bell. There are a number of amusement parks with "Great America" in their names, as well as an amusement/theme park company named "Great American Family Parks."
It looked like the committee was considering a plan to turn over pristine and near-pristine desert to rollercoasters and other vomit-inducing thrill rides.
However, having never heard even a whisper of such a scheme, I thought it would be a good idea to attend the meeting before trumpeting the alarm.
Damn, I'm glad that I did so.
Turns out that the "Great American Parks" referenced in the meeting agenda relating to a future Papago were Central Park in NYC, Balboa Park in San Diego, Griffith Park in L.A., Fair Park in Dallas, Golden Gate Park in SF, and Grant Park.
Oops. While those parks do have attractions, some of which include rides, mostly the attractions are of the museum-theme park-zoo variety, with a state fair (Dallas) thrown in for good measure.
While the words "private partners" were bandied about with altogether too much enthusiasm (hey, Mayor Hugh Hallman of Tempe *is* a member of the committee :) ), but it doesn't seem likely that "Six Flags - Papago" or something similar is in our immediate future. There is something in the works for AZ's centennial celebration in 2012, though. Stay tuned on more info on that subject.
That's an hour-and-a-half of my life that I'll never get back, all because some municipal employee capitalized the words "Great American Parks" like it was a proper name.
A decent summary page about the park, its history, and proposals for its future can be found here.