Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: This slide from the presentation shows where the proposed park is slated to be.
The city of Safford held a public meeting at the City Council Meeting room, on May 2, 2023, and the attendees heard a private development firm present their plans for developing a piece of land that the city currently owns that is connected and adjoining to the west side of the Safford Cemetery, bounded by Discovery Park Blvd and 8th Avenue.
I was at the meeting. I listened and watched the wonderful PowerPoint presentation and enjoyed eating a cookie and some great fresh fruit. It was a classy meeting for sure. I am familiar with this unusual, triangle-shaped property.
All the ideas presented at the meeting I believe were designed to promote 100% support from the attendees. When I look at the small piece of land and hear they’re thinking about so many elements: 500-seat amphitheater, zip lines, pickleball courts, splash pad, playground equipment, cornhole area, etc. plus parking for all of those folks between the canal and 8th Avenue from where we then walk across one pedestrian bridge to get to the actual park (think about the gazebo park at Graham County Fairgrounds and the footbridge over the mote from the parking lot), then it begs me to question why this location is the only location being considered.
I realize the noise will not disturb our loved ones buried at the cemetery, but all the new burial plots recently framed for future graveside services will be directly adjacent to and above, overlooking this planned park. Funerals will typically be on a Saturday with graveside services around midday. Saturday would, I imagine, also be the busiest day at the park. Hmm, what could go wrong with that?
A couple of decades ago, right after the walking path was built along 8th Avenue and the cemetery, our local master gardeners brought in a landscaping firm, gratis at no cost, and they assisted them in beautifying and grooming the lovely mesquite orchard where this park is planned for. It has made for a pleasant, quiet stroll.
Further improvements could and should be made to this area, but for the life of me, I cannot picture that this park, in its current grandiose plans of having so many activities, is a great idea . . . for this location.
Trust me, I am not opposed to the ideas presented at this meeting as to the planned activities, but I surely would think there’s got to be a much, much better location that would, could, and should include any future plans of expansion in order to accommodate all of the activities thought of. The obvious alternate choice I keep hearing about is the private huge piece of land just west of 8th Avenue and bordered on the south by Discovery Park Boulevard. Long term, I would agree that it would be a better location, but the land would cost extra money. With $5-$7 million dollars at our disposal I have to think it possible to look at that possibility. I would hope the powers that be slow down just a bit and think this through more before holding the groundbreaking ceremony with gold-painted shovels. Location, location, location!