Hance Park committee wraps up meetings, prepares recommendations for Phoenix

The Margaret T. Hance Park Master Plan Steering Committee had its final discussion Tuesday on the recommendations it will send to the city of Phoenix in late April. (Madeline Pado/DD)

The Margaret T. Hance Park Master Plan Steering Committee ironed out the final details of a proposal Tuesday aimed at cementing the downtown Phoenix park as an iconic destination.

The committee has been developing a master plan for revitalizing the park over multiple meetings. The committee disbanded after the meeting because members have completed developing a master plan of recommendations to be presented in a report to the city of Phoenix Parks and Recreation board in late April.

The final meeting determined which suggestions will be sent to the board, which will lay out the design elements that the public wants in the park, said Karen Williams, deputy director for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Suggestions included a dog park, restructuring attractions for better access and creating a distinguished landmark. The commiittee also discussed what the park’s proximity to Interstate 10 would mean for reconstruction.

Members considered what they felt was best for the park, but focused on what the residents of Phoenix would like to see happen, said Sarah Porter, chair of the committee.

A main issue for residents in the surrounding areas is a proposed dog park set to be incorporated in the design plans.

Currently, the dog park will be placed between 3rd and 5th avenues. Some residents are concerned because that area is near their homes and Kenilworth Elementary School.

“We want to see it done professionally by a design team,” said Cass Markovich, an area resident. “Not just by people that don’t have expertise in that area. We want it done by professionals and we want input into it.”

Another key issue is how to draw people to the park.

The park contains the Japanese Friendship Garden of Phoenix. In order to attract people, it was proposed that the entrance be altered and more signage be provided. But those involved with the garden believe this would negatively affect the garden’s ambiance.

“We literally cannot change our entryway,” said Susan McCall, executive director of the garden. “There is a method of meditation, contemplation and the feeling of serenity as you walk [through] the garden, so you can’t just pop in anywhere.”

Despite these concerns, the revitalization process has gained a steady backing for financial and marketing support.

The nonprofit Hance Park Conservancy will help rebuild the park and create a more iconic draw.

“To make this park happen, it is going to be a public and private partnership,” said Margaret Dietrich, a member of the Hance Park Conservancy. “This is a great idea and we are going to get the money to make it happen.”

The organization will first focus on getting park funding and then promote it once the remodel is complete.

“The mission of the organization is to create activity in Hance Park and to support the development of the master plan put forth by this committee,” said Timothy Sprague, the owner and principal developer at Habitat Metro LLC and a member of the conservancy.

Porter said the 33-acre park is an amazing opportunity for the city because of its central location. If the park was revamped correctly, it could draw new life to an otherwise unnoticed and under-visited area, she added.

Other major cities have iconic parks that are associated with the city, and Hance Park deserves an investment to give Phoenix that chance, Porter said.

“Currently no one coming to Phoenix says ‘I need to visit Hance Park,’ ” Porter said. “But we want to make it so that when they come to Phoenix they wouldn’t dream of missing out on a visit to Hance Park.”

Contact the reporter at kayla.pologa@asu.edu