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Tempe unveils master plan of ideas for Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Beach Park futures

Posted at 2:07 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 16:07:50-05

What will Tempe Town Lake, Tempe Beach Park and the running paths surrounding the lake look like in the next 20 to 30 years?

With all of the development already underway in Tempe, it is a question city officials are looking to start answering sooner than later.

On Thursday, city officials approved the "Rio Salado and Beach Park Masterplan," which looked at how people use the park, what challenges exist now, and possibilities to improve the park for the future.

Among the ideas: a zip line that runs across the lake; a rock climbing wall beneath the Loop 202 freeway; a boardwalk with food kiosks; a volleyball stadium; basketball courts; event venues; a new boathouse; and viewing platforms for bird watching and smaller events. Read the report.

The plan itself is a collection of ideas from local officials, business leaders, residents and organizations.

There is no funding attached to the plan nor has funding been approved. The ideas listed could become reality or they could not.

The plan also noted areas where the area could be improved. Specifically, the park has seen an increase in events and programming, both large events, such as the new Innings Festival and annual Fourth of July fireworks, and smaller events.

Between set-up and tear-down of some of those events, some residents have expressed disenfranchisement, the report said. Other challenges included lack of shade in certain areas; disconnected pathways; underused areas; lack of direct access between light rail platform and the lake and Mill Avenue district, and lack of direct access to Arizona State University.

"Tempe Beach Park and the surrounding areas have evolved into a series of linear improvements and tired infrastructure due to over use and deferred maintenance. In this sense, the park struggles to work well; it’s time to re-examine the park from today’s reality and tomorrow’s vision," the report said.

Instead, the park "needs to embrace the emerging understanding of urban placemaking: connecting people to their park; connecting the park to its urban mixed-use neighborhood; and connecting these concepts to a collective vision."

The report also noted that most people tend to be familiar with Tempe Town Lake and Beach Park, but may be less familiar with the areas that run beyond them: Tempe Center for the Arts, the Riparian Area near Priest Drive, and the areas between Priest and McClintock drives.

The report suggested expanding programming to other areas of Rio Solado Park and looking at the scheduling of events to offer the park a "recovery period."

Tempe Town Lake is the oldest park in Tempe. It was built in 1931 and renovated in 1999.

More than 2.5 million people are estimated to visit the park every year, the report states.

With City Council approval, the plan will stand as it was approved. However, suggestions can be emailed to townlake@tempe.gov.