The city needs to do a better job of removing trash and vandalism on “A” Mountain to make it more appealing to visitors, a city survey says.
Furthermore, the popular park with views of the city should have more park amenities and designated times when vehicles are prohibited, according to the survey, which asks Tucsonans for ideas to improve the park and make visitors safer.
“We really tried to hear from as many people as we could,” said Ann Chanecka, special projects manager at the Tucson City Manager’s Office. “I do think having thousands of responses speaks to the interest in this topic.”
Of the 2,902 respondents, 66% said the park’s hours need to be reduced for vehicles. The park is currently open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Within the 66% majority, 38% of survey takers called for car-free half days throughout the week, during the morning to early afternoons.
The other 28% of respondents who wanted car-free days chose the weekends as their preferred change.
“I’ve heard for years of some interest, in some cases by community members, so I wasn’t super surprised by the results,” Chanecka said.
She added that residents in Tucson’s Ward 1 have been playing an active role in advocating for these changes.
Forty-eight percent of respondents reported using a vehicle to get to Sentinel Peak. A third of those drivers said they also enjoy walking or biking in the park.
Nearly half of all respondents said they visited at least a few times a year.
Still, 51% of those traveling by car said they want to keep access the way it is.
Skylar Hyland, who was enjoying a visit to the park with his two daughters on Friday afternoon, shares some of the same views about the park.
“It’s a good place to come clear your mind,” Hyland said. “I understand that people come up here to misuse the environment here or break rules that they shouldn’t be breaking, but I think that’s why we employ people to protect us and watch over these kinds of areas rather than shutting down the park,” Hyland said.
The survey was conducted after a 73-year-old cyclist was killed last October by a wrong-way driver whom police said was impaired. It was among the 173 incidents ranging from vehicle break-ins to burglaries reported to police during a six-month period last year between April and October.
Meanwhile, community service officers with the Tucson Police Department have been working with the parks department to patrol city parks, including “A” Mountain, to help make visitors safer by watching out for people breaking park rules.
“With the start of these public safety officers, there’s at least some growing awareness among people using the parking lot up there that there’s at least somebody watching them and knowing what they’re doing,” said Ellen Paige, who lives in the area.
She said the patrols could help reduce drug use in the park.
Paige is one of the advocates working with neighbors to address traffic concerns on South Cuesta Avenue, the neighborhood street that people drive to get to the park.
A grant will help with the traffic worries.
“What Tucson Clean and Beautiful told us is that we can afford to do a traffic circle at Cuesta Avenue and West Cedar Street and that’s just one small part of our proposal but it’s a start. We’re excited about that,” said Paige.
Tucson Clean and Beautiful will get permits and oversee work for the right-of-way construction of the traffic circle, but Paige said more fundraising will be needed to address the other concerns like flood damage.
Road safety improvements also are planned in the park.
The Tucson Department of Transportation will likely address the need for more signs along both directions of the road.
Tucson officials will also reach out to surrounding neighborhoods over the next month to share results of the survey and gather insight on their concerns.
The goal is to take this information to the City Council in September.
“I think the big picture to me was that people want to get traffic under control and the survey was very useful in showing there was a lot of support for having some kind of change in the hours that cars can go up and down,” Paige said. “Also, just decreasing the impact of the traffic on pedestrians, bikers and neighbors and the rather dangerous aspect of that traffic.”
Down the Road
Valencia Road pavement work set for Monday
Construction crews will pave Valencia Road from Pantano Road west of Kolb Road starting Monday morning.
The work will last from 3:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and be completed on the eastbound and westbound lanes.
Motorists should expect reduced speeds and delays in the area.
Valencia-Ajo project gets rescheduled
Overnight road work on Valencia Road from Wade Road to Ajo Highway has been rescheduled for Monday.
Crews will start at 11 p.m. until completion sometime Tuesday.
Motorists should use caution and watch for personnel in the area.
Tucson Mountain Park rehabilitation work
Crews will begin road rehabilitation work Monday on Kinney Road west of McCain Loop Road and east of Mile Wide Road.
The work will begin Monday morning from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. until Friday, Aug. 9.
Motorists can expect lane closures and reduced speed in the area.
Contact Star reporter Shaq Davis at 573-4218 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @ShaqDavis1