Tucson Parks and Recreation revealed its first look at the latest Reid Park Master Plan concept. Over the past six months, the department utilized community feedback to better understand the needs of residents.
The department received more than 6,000 comments through community engagement events like an open house, pop-up events and multiple community surveys. Improvements to the citation wash, a bird blind near the water and educational water play areas were among some of the suggestions presented.
However, the plan also consists of a design that will enhance local ecology. Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Greg Jackson said water education and conservation were a cornerstone in understanding what the park should look like years down the line for community members.
“The education piece was really kind of twofold,” he said. “While it is about educating children and understanding the value of water and integrating with that, it was also about educating the community and adults about what are [the] native plants that do well in deserts that are drought tolerant.”
According to the department, Tucson is “a low desert valley surrounded by high elevation islands of dense forest” and has the Santa Cruz River system that is a superhighway for wildlife movement. With its unique characteristics, the area attracts species of all kinds.
A desert scrub-land, riparian, desert basin and open oak woodland area are some of the ideas that will help reintroduce native landscapes to improve biodiversity. Right now, the area consists of plants that rely heavily on water.
“We need to plan to replace those with plants that are going to be more sustainable, more native vegetation [and] take less water,” Jackson said.
Enhancing wildlife areas was one of the highest ranking desires community members shared in surveys. One survey respondent even said “wildlife really brightens up everything about the park.”
With goals like a 67% turf reduction, the reintroduction of native landscapes and the preservation of 95% of existing trees, the remodel looks at lowering water usage and achieving community wants.
The department is still looking for community feedback on the proposed master plan. Residents have until Dec. 19 to head to their website to fill out the survey.