Capital Project Name: County Parks Upgrades
Location: Across Maricopa County
Total project cost: $15,314,952
Year completed: Ongoing
Usery Mountain Regional Park is a scenic oasis in the far East Valley, filled with towering saguaros, wind caves, and mountain side trails with spectacular views. Like all Maricopa County parks, nature is the star, but our Parks and Recreation Department plays an important supporting role.
“Things that can get in the way of a quality experience could be inoperable equipment, unkempt park grounds, the lack of basic service amenities such as water, restrooms and informational signs or friendly staff,” explains Ken Vonderscher, planning and development manager for Maricopa County Parks and Recreation.
In the past decade, Maricopa County has spent more than $15 million in capital funds to improve the visitor experience at county-managed parks, trails, and conservation areas. At Usery, older restroom facilities have been renovated and new ones have been added in the equestrian area of the park to serve riders who told us they wanted facilities closer to the area they visit.
“While we easily could have knocked down the restrooms and replaced them with new facilities, the bones of the structures were still in good condition and could be revived with a simple facelift,” explains Parks Director RJ Cardin. “Going with a remodel versus a brand new structure resulted in taxpayer cost savings.”
Usery Mountain Regional Park is also one of several Maricopa County parks to feature an energy-efficient Nature Center which serves as a starting point for visitors and can be rented for events and gatherings of all types.
“These critical facilities greet visitors, provide valuable park and trail information, and provide a place for visitors to relax and plan the remainder of their park visit,” explains Vonderscher.
Maricopa County Park operations are almost entirely self-funded, but many improvement and renovation projects are supported by the Board of Supervisors to ensure nature remains the star at county parks.
“Parks and open space add so much to our quality of life in Maricopa County,” said Supervisor Steve Chucri, District 2. “We need to do everything we can to maintain and enhance places like Usery Mountain so that families will be able to enjoy them for generations to come.”
Top photo courtesy: Ron Scott, park volunteer