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Phoenix City Council approves $500 million bond program proposal

Phoenix leaders are closer to sending a $500 million general obligation bond program to voters after approving recommendations presented by a citizen's committee Tuesday.

Bond programs are a way for cities to pay for major capital improvements like the $ 132 million proposed for fire stations and police facilities, $30 million for three libraries and $14 million for a regional pool at Maryvale Park in Councilwoman Betty Guardado’s district.

“It will work year round and the features that we’re looking at are amazing,” she said. “We’re looking at dive boards, zero depth entry, interactive water play areas, swimming lessons area, water slide, shade structure, pool heater and water playground.”

In her district, Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari said the Estrella Village Civic Space has been overlooked for decades, “This is a 93-acre plot of land that was promised to the community as a regional park in the early 2000s.”

The fast growing area of southwest Phoenix will see the first phase of park construction, along with a new library if voters approve the bond program in November 2023. 

The recommendations presented during the meeting came from a city council-appointed citizen’s executive committee, which reviewed projects submitted by citizen-led subcommittees. Barring unanticipated legislative or severe economic changes, Phoenix expects the current secondary property tax rate will cover program costs. 

Here's an overview of recommended projects:

Arts and culture: $50.4 million — 10% of the total bond program.

A total of seven projects/programs are recommended for Arts and Culture including: a new Latino Cultural Center ($21.6 million) and Valley Youth Theatre ($14 million), expansion of the Children's Museum of Phoenix ($5.4 million) and Phoenix Center of the Arts Theatre improvements ($1.2 million), the Phoenix Theatre Company's Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility projects ($5. million), renovation and expansion funding for the Arizona Jewish Historical Society ($2 million), and funding for general cultural facility critical equipment replacements ($400,000). 

Total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is approximately $890,000.

Economic development and education: $38 million — 7% of the total bond program.

A total of three projects/programs are recommended for economic development and education including: land acquisition for Rio Reimagined ($23.5 million), funding for a new Arizona State University Health Technology Center ($12 million) and funding for land acquisition to "spark" redevelopment of fragmented parcels ($2.5 million). 

This program area does not include any net new ongoing operating costs.

Environment and sustainability: $26 million — 5% of the total bond program.

A total of four projects/programs are recommended for environment and sustainability including: funding for energy and water efficiency/renewable energy upgrades at city facilities ($14 million, funding for heat resiliency projects ($7.7M million), brownfield redevelopment program funding for city properties ($3 million) and vehicle electrification stations for city facilities ($1.3 million). 

Total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is $190,000.

Housing, human services and homelessness: $63 million — 13% of the total bond program.

A total of five projects/programs are recommended for housing, human services and homelessness including: Affordable Housing Property Preservation funding for up to 610 units at four properties citywide ($33.2 million), a new Cesar Chavez Senior Center ($5.7 million), renovations for the McDowell Senior Center ($1.8 million), gap funding for Choice Neighborhoods Housing Development for the Edison-Eastlake Community to accommodate 286 affordable and 78 market-rate new rental units ($21.3 million) and funding for a new Innovation in Affordable Housing Initiative ($1 million). 

Total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is $330,000.

Neighborhoods and city services: $44.6 million — 9% of the total bond program.

A total of five projects/programs are recommended for Neighborhoods and City Services including: a new library as part of Phase I for Estrella Village Civic Space ($8.6 million), funding for City facility Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility improvements ($10.1M), expansion of the Yucca Branch Library ($10.6 million), a new library as part of Phase I for Desert View Civic Space ($10.3M), and funding for Historic Preservation Programs ($5 million). 

Total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is $3 million.

Parks and recreation: $64 million — 13% of the total bond program.

A total of 10 projects/programs are recommended for parks and recreation including: Citywide parks minor capital projects to be determined by the community ($1.5 million), a new recreation center at Esteban Park ($4.5 million), South Mountain Park Phase I roadway safety improvements ($7.7 million), repurpose four pools in South Phoenix to provide a new regional pool at Harmon Park, and add three splash pads at Alkire, Grant and University parks ($12.8 million), repurpose three pools in the Maryvale area to provide a new regional pool at Maryvale Park, install two new splash pads at Marivue and Holiday parks ($14.3 million), design and construct Phase I of the Estrella Village Civic Space ($8.4 million), design and construct Phase I of the Desert View Village Civic Space ($8.4 million), provide funding for improvements at the Telephone Pioneers of America Park Recreation Center ($2.2 million), renovation of the exterior sport courts at the Mountain View Community Center ($1.2 million) and provide funding for additional enhancements to Margaret T. Hance Park ($3 million). 

Total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is $3.3 million.

Public safety: $132.5 million — 27% of the total bond program.

A total of seven projects are recommended for public safety including: a new Fire Station 7/Community Assistance Program facility located at Seventh Street and Hatcher Road ($21.4 million), a new Fire Station 13/Community Assistance Program facility located at 44th Street and Thomas Road ($21.8 million), a new Fire Station 15/Community Assistance Program facility located at 45th Avenue and Camelback ($21.4 million), replacement of the Cactus Park Police Precinct, including land acquisition to accommodate a future relocation of the North Command Center, located to be determined ($37.3 million), a new Fire Station 51 located at 51st Avenue and State Road 303 near the new Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company plant ($18.6M million, renovation of the Police Property Management Warehouse ($9 million), and renovation of the Maryvale Police Precinct ($3.0 million). 

Total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is $18.7 million.

Streets and storm drainage: $81.5 million — 16% of the total bond program.

A total of six projects/programs are recommended for streets and storm drainage including: program funding for Vision Zero projects ($16.9 million), funding for Equity Based Transportation Mobility/T2050 Mobility Implementation ($12.6 million), project funding for Page 12 Agenda Date: 12/13/2022, Item No. 1 flood mitigation in four areas of Laveen ($8.2 million), funding to supplement the Accelerated Pavement Maintenance Program ($22.0 million), funding to implement the Hohokam Drainage Master Plan in collaboration with the Flood Control District of Maricopa County ($19.3 million), and Storm Drainage Replacement Program funding to replace one to two miles of deteriorating metal storm drain piping with new reinforced concrete pipe ($2.5million). 

The total estimated ongoing operating costs associated with this program area is $390,000.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.