The Margaret T. Hance Park Master Plan Steering Committee met with ASU landscape and architecture students Wednesday to discuss a remastering plan that will transform the park space into a cultural and recreational centerpiece of downtown Phoenix.
The 13-member steering board has met 12 to 14 times to discuss the future of the park and says their mission is “to develop an achievable master plan … that fosters and activates community connectivity … making Hance Park a signature destination.”
A tour of the park preceded the meeting so that the students could formulate ideas for change and get a feel for the area.
Graduate student Valerie Johnson said it is “exciting there is a large park space this close to downtown Phoenix.” Landscape and architecture student Kristi Johnson said there is room for improvement, including utilizing the grass and providing more shade and water throughout the park.
The committee and the students will work together for the next few months and propose a redesigning plan to the Parks and Recreation board in December.
Hance Park was built in 1990 to connect Interstate 10 and provide a diverse recreational area for the neighboring communities. Initial plans fell through when funds ran out, leaving Hance Park disconnected. The new plan is to take elements from the first master plan and incorporate new, innovative ideas from the design students, said Cate Russo, recreation coordinator at Hance Park.
Two other park committees meet monthly to discuss the future of the park’s 32.5 acres and its impact on the surrounding community. The Hance Park Issues Committee focuses on ongoing issues such as crime and homelessness. The Hance/Deck Park Conservancy Committee plans on establishing a nonprofit organization for issues such as security construction and maintenance.
Committee member and landscape architect Tom Byrne said existing constraints on the park include a lack of identity, but he said the committee has suggested visioning opportunities such as a bike shop, a water splash pad, WiFi access and an urban trail. The committee hopes to incorporate current programming opportunities into the park such as First Fridays and Movies in the Park, Byrne said. The idea is to get people “off the street and into the park,” he said.
A community amphitheater and a pedestrian/bicycle overpass or underpass were other potential ideas weighed by the committee.
The priorities of the committee are to preserve the historical aspects of the park while making it a signature arts and cultural part of the downtown area, the committee said.
Hance Park houses the Irish Cultural Center, the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Jewish Heritage Center, each associated with one of Phoenix’s 10 sister cities. The committee hopes to see further cultural additions to the park, possibly including attractions relating to the seven other sister cities, said Karen Williams, a member of the committee.
Hance Park houses the Irish Cultural Center and the Japanese Friendship Garden, according to the City of Phoenix Parks website, and is adjacent to the Jewish Heritage Center. The three locations each work with one of Phoenix’s sister cities. The committee hopes to see further cultural additions to the park, possibly including attractions relating to the seven other sister cities, said Karen Williams, a member of the committee.
“We have all the elements for making a successful park,” Williams added.
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Correction: August 28, 2011
An earlier version of this article said the Jewish Heritage Center is housed by Hance Park. The Jewish Heritage Center is adjacent to the park, but is not a part of it.