Phoenix Approves Hance Park Redesign Over the Next Decade
Courtesy Hance Park Master Plan Committee/Andrew Pielage A view of Margaret T. Hance Park as it looks today.
On Thursday, March 27, Phoenicians gathered under a cloud-streaked sky in the downtown sector. Some sprawled amongst the grass, others chased their children while still more stood, beer in hand, facing the stage. It wasn't a rock concert or a festival -- not yet anyway. That would be March 28.
Last night was about the park. The physical place where they all were, certainly, and also the potential the greenery has to become more than a glorified lawn. After months of committee and community meetings, the City of Phoenix, the Parks and Recreation Department, and the Hance Park Conservancy unveiled the finalized plans for the redesigned Margaret T. Hance Park to residents at a three-hour event.
Nearly 1,500 people milled about to participate in enHANCE: The New Park Plan, said Vern Biaett, a faculty associate at Arizona State University who specializes in event studies. He gestured to the surrounding metered parking and lots, many of which were barely full -- and indication that most in attendance were neighborhood residents who had walked.
The free evening event featured food trucks like Short Leash Hot Dogs and Pizza People Pub, a beer and wine garden ("$2 beers! Celebrate like it's 1992!"), and live music -- a far cry from the last community conversation we reported on in January. Held at the Phoenix Art Museum on Wednesday, January 22, the town hall-style meeting drew 300 members of the public for two hours of remarks from principals at Weddle Gilmore and !melk architecture firms and speakers like District 4 Councilwoman Laura Pastor and Ann Wheat, the Parks and Recreation Department's Deputy Downtown Division Director.
Last night's presentation was much of the same, including additional speaking from Kris Floor of landscape architecture firm Floor Associates, District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski and Kimber Lanning, director of Local First Arizona.
Lanning rounded out the 40-minute presentation, recalling how far the Valley, and particularly the downtown area, has come and comparing the oft-uphill battle to "being in the trenches."
Wheat, like many of the presenters, opened the ceremony with a sweeping statement about identity -- a sentiment echoed throughout the night via comparisons to Chicago's Millennium Park, Manhattan's Central and Bryant parks, and Parc Güell in Barcelona, Spain.
"The transformative nature of Hance Park as our grand urban park will transform our city," Wheat said.
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