Subcommittee hears preliminary Hance Park restoration plans

The parks department unveiled preliminary plans for the ongoing restoration of Margaret T. Hance Park to a City Council subcommittee on Wednesday. (Eric Jakows/DD)

The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department unveiled a preliminary plan for the restoration of Margaret T. Hance Park on Wednesday.

Inger Erickson, Phoenix parks and recreation director, and Philip Weddle, co-founder of Weddle Gilmore Black Rock Studio, presented the plan to the Parks, Arts, Transparency, and Education Subcommittee. A finalized version of the Hance Park master plan will appear before the subcommittee in April.

Parts of the park closed in 2015 while the city worked to stop water leaks from the park into the Deck Park Tunnel on Interstate 10. Erickson said the construction project to fix the leaks finished in December.

The preliminary plan focuses on improving the area of Hance Park surrounding the Central Avenue bridge. Weddle said this bridge separates the park into east and west sections.

“We believe that re-envisioning what that Central Avenue is is critical to unifying the park into a single area,” Weddle said.

Weddle said the restoration should include new entrances into the park from Central Avenue, a handful of which would lead directly from the McDowell Road light rail station. He recommended the space underneath the Central Avenue Bridge become part of the park as well.

Weddle said the city should redevelop the firehouse as a restaurant and create a skate park in the northwest corner of the park’s Central Avenue area.

“We’ve had very strong community for a skate park in Hance Park,” Weddle said. “It’s a critical activator for that part of the park.”

Weddle said restoration would cost about $35 million and the Parks Department would seek out a public-private sector partnership to fund it.

District 7 Councilman Michael Nowakowski pressed Weddle and Erickson to look for possible grants and ways Phoenix could model this restoration on other Phoenix parks.

The Hance Park design team will unveil the master plan update at the Art D’Core Gala at Hance Park on March 10, according to Marcia Karasek, executive director of the Hance Park Conservancy project.

Weddle stressed to the subcommittee that having a park in an urban setting was key component of making Phoenix on par with other major cities.

“Successful cities really have a history of drawing energy from their signature parks,” Weddle said.

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