Ex­pan­sion forces San Luis to drop plans for park

City of­fi­cials to con­sider cre­at­ing a pub­lic plaza in­stead

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE - BY CE­SAR NEYOY BAJO EL SOL

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.

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