Expansion forces San Luis to drop plans for park
City officials to consider creating a public plaza instead
SAN LUIS, Ariz. — The federal government’s plans to enlarge the port of entry in downtown San Luis has forced the city to scrap plans to upgrade Amistad Park.
The park is located on federal land the U.S. General Services Administration would need to reclaim for the expansion, prompting San Luis officials to look instead at creating a nearby public plaza with an area for public events, an amphitheater, parking and other amenities.
San Luis Public Works Director Louie Galaviz said the proposed site of the plaza is a 10-acre parcel of vacant federal land located on the east side of Main Street, between C Street and Juan Sanchez Boulevard. Yet to be determined is whether the city would seek to acquire the land or merely request federal approval to use it for the plaza.
Galaviz said the plaza concept borrows elements from the prior master plan for renovating Amistad Park. That plan, presented in December to the San Luis City Council, called for adding a performing arts amphitheater, new playground, outdoor art gallery and water fountain in park located on the southwest corner of Main and Urtuzuastegui streets.
“We’ve been having meetings for several weeks with the city Public Works and Community Development departments to see what is the best we can do (in lieu of redeveloping the park) and to begin to develop a concept to propose to the council,” he said.
Among other things, the new concept envisions creating a public parking area that could be used for an affordable fee by people wishing to leave their cars on the U.S. side of border when visiting Mexico, as well as by farmworkers from Mexico wanting to park their vehicles and board labor buses. The parking area would also serve people attending scheduled events in plaza.
The plaza, which would be landscaped with green areas and have space for concessions booths, could also serve as the site for the city’s various festivals and cultural events, Galaviz said.
“It would serve as a connection between the border, the Main Street corridor and the Joe Orduno Park complex, where we would continue having the biggest events. At the same time we think it would help to attract businesses to the downtown area.”
The concept also calls for construction of a pedestrian bridge over Main Street to provide residents on the west side safe access to the plaza.
Also as part of the concept, a single area would be set aside for labor buses to pick up and drop off farmworkers. Currently, the workers board or get off buses at several locations in the city.
Galaviz said he expects the new concept to be ready in time to present to the council as it begins budget planning for the next fiscal year that starts July 1.
Located next to the Mexican border, the Amistad Park site was given to the city for recreational purposes around the time San Luis incorporated in 1979. Amistad served the pub-
lic as a place for picnics, sports and recreation and public celebrations about a decade before San Luis opened its second park, Joe Orduno Park, located on Juan Sanchez Boulevard on the city’s north side.
The federal government now needs the park side in anticipation of a future expansion of the San Luis I port of entry to be able to process increasing vehicle traffic between the United States and Mexico.
GSA has included San Luis I expansion in its five-year plan for border improvement projects, but the construction project is subject to be funded by Congress.