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New Anthem park hinges on EPCOR

Eric Quade ~ Editor~ 4/30/2014

Anthem residents attending the Anthem Community Council’s April 23 board of directors meeting were told that plans for the proposed Opportunity Way Park are still in motion and might be ready for a formal vote next month.
A crucial step in the park creation process involves crafting an agreement between ACC and the owner of one property that lies right in the middle of what would become Opportunity Way Park—EPCOR.
According to ACC’s Neal Shearer, EPCOR is open to the park concept, but the private water company also wants to make sure that its assets would remain protected.
In particular, some infrastructure for EPCOR’s water recharge facility lies above ground at the site, while more still is buried about 10 feet under what would become a recreational area frequented by the public.
Shearer said that a “draft license agreement” was currently under negotiation. The document would spell out some of the conditions on which EPCOR would agree to have the new park situated on its property, including:

  • EPCOR reviews and approves planned park improvements
  • ACC pays for park improvements
  • ACC assumes liability for damages
  • EPCOR would have to give ACC 3 months to resolve any issues that might come up. After that, EPCOR could proceed with terminating the agreement with another 6 months notice if the company’s operations were “materially adversely affected” by the park

The term of the license agreement would be 30 years if approved as is.
According to a design rendering presented at last week’s meeting, Opportunity Way Park could feature two, grass-covered multi-use fields, a basketball court, playground, restrooms, on-site parking and more.
Preliminary cost figures estimate a $1.8 million price tag for the park’s design and construction with another $180,000 per year projected to operate it.
In other ACC news:
Board directors gave a green light to St. Rose Catholic Church plans to establish a St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at the church’s Anthem location. The food pantry facility would be built next to St. Rose’s administration building and would serve the communities of Anthem, New River and Desert Hills on a non-denominational basis, according to organizers.
Board directors also helped move forward the proposed Merrill Gardens senior living development project by approving two related bookkeeping items. Community Executive Officer Jenna Kollings said that the next step involves ACC and Merrill Gardens officials going through the architectural design process for the facility.
Tim Fyke, who was elected president at last week’s board meeting, said that he was originally “absolutely opposed” to the Merrill Gardens proposal but positive public comments about working to keep generations of families together were persuasive.
 “And that’s what we strive for in Anthem is to keep these families together, to keep it close, to not have to send your mother, father off to Scottsdale to some place there because we don’t have a facility,” he said.