New parks are a win-win for the county and the town SanTan Sun News

New parks are a win-win for the county and the town

August 20th, 2018 | by SanTan Sun News
New parks are a win-win for the county and the town
Opinion
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By Denny Barney

You’ve probably heard about plans to build two new parks in Gilbert: Rittenhouse District Park, near Power and Pecos Roads, and Gilbert Regional Park, near Queen Creek and Higley Roads.

The latter is long overdue in the south part of town and will include an expansive playground, splash pad, tennis courts and pickleball. The former will be a multi-use recreational area with baseball fields and a playground.

What you might not know is the collaboration that happened behind the scenes to move these projects forward. It’s an effort I’ve been involved with since early 2014.

The future parks are located in flood control basins owned by Maricopa County. These basins are open spaces where water can safely collect during a storm so it doesn’t flood homes or roads.

Most of the year, though, these basins sit empty and dry. In many ways, they are blank canvases. And that’s how Gilbert leaders wisely viewed Chandler Heights Basin and Rittenhouse Basin when they approached the Flood Control District of Maricopa County to discuss use of both.

Here’s how it works: A flood-control basin can be used for another purpose as long as the flood control function of the basin is not compromised. And, if the requesting agency (in this case, Gilbert) accepts full risk and liability for the public use and performs needed maintenance.

The district and the town came to an agreement on those points, and park plans started taking shape. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held earlier this year with both parks expected to open in 2019.

County taxpayers should know that Gilbert is bringing in all the resources to build and maintain these parks; the county is simply providing the land that taxpayers already bought.

From the county’s perspective, it’s a win-win. The county’s land maintenance burden will decrease, and residents will benefit from both additional recreational amenities and continued flood protection.

It’s worth noting that from time to time these basins (park equipment and all) will flood. That’s how they were designed, after all! But public safety is a priority for everyone involved, and during a big storm, the District coordinates with towns such as Gilbert to make sure they have all the information they need to protect residents.

To build better communities, you need strong partnerships and outside-the-box thinking.

This partnership between the Town of Gilbert and the Flood Control District of Maricopa County is a smart one, the end result of which will be two beautiful new parks where we can all come together.

And that’s good for the entire region.

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