Phoenix parks and recreation department gives Hance Park update

Margaret T. Hance Park (Jade Carter/DD)

Downtown Phoenix residents came to voice their thoughts on a lot near Hance Park during a community meeting Wednesday.

The meeting was held by the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and Downtown Voices Coalition, a group of downtown-based stakeholders, to receive public feedback on the vacant lot next to the historic Winship House at 3rd Avenue and Portland Street.

Just over two dozen people from around downtown Phoenix came to the meeting, many of whom expressed their thoughts on what should happen to the lot.

“We don’t have a really visible entrance into the park as you come off Roosevelt going North. A wide sidewalk or parkway going up and into the park is something that everybody agrees is something that needs to be considered,” said Joan Kelchner, the secretary of the Roosevelt Action Association (RAA), at the meeting.

While a park entrance was supported by a few attendees, it was not the only idea. Other suggestions included using the space as a food court, community garden or a place to build a multi-purpose space for community activities like yoga or Tai chi.

A suggestion for the area to become a parking lot was voiced by Kiyoko Toyama, the president of the Japanese Friendship Garden, and was echoed by representatives of the Great Arizona Puppet Theater.

“When we have special events like First Fridays, that’s when we get thousands of people,” said Toyama at the meeting. “When people show up, they are driving around looking for parking. It’s a good usage for everybody, so people don’t have to keep driving around in circles – that’s dangerous.”

Some residents raised concerns about it becoming a parking lot, explaining that a new lot will not be enough to suit large events and may cause the homeless population to go into the neighborhoods.

Others noted that it might diminish the beauty of the historic neighborhood.

Instead of transforming the land as a part of Hance Park, Judy Weiss, a deputy director at the Parks Department, mentioned an idea previously raised of selling the land or transferring it to another department.

While nothing has been set in stone, the many comments made at Wednesday’s meeting will help the Parks Department decide what will be the best fit to fill the 20,000-square-foot lot.

In addition to filling the empty space, plans to improve the landscaping along Third Avenue and plans to connect Winship to Hance Park are also expected, said Ken Haines, a project landscape architect at Hargreaves Associates, at the meeting.

The lot is in connection to Margret T. Hance Park, which began its $100 million revitalization project in 2018. The project is lead by the Phoenix Community Alliance, the Hance Park Conservancy, and the Parks & Recreation Department.

More information about Hance Park and the revitalization project can be found here.

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