Saturday, September 22, 2007

Phoenix begins search for new Points of Pride (what historic places would you nominate?)

[Source: Michael Clancy, Arizona Republic] -- Phoenix once again is looking for Points of Pride, locations like the Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park (pictured at right), that evoke pride in city residents. It's a nice idea, conceived at a time when the city was struggling with recession and, as former Mayor Paul Johnson says, people needed to be reminded of all the good things in Phoenix. Still, the passing years make some of the points look silly or even just plain wrong.

Take Patriots Square, which became a Point of Pride in 1992. "We thought it was something unique at the time," Johnson said of the downtown park. Now, he said, we know better. Never a favorite of downtown workers or visitors, the Square's laser was supposed to become a worldwide tourist attraction. Instead, it was a big bust. Now, the city has approved plans offered by a private developer to reconstruct three blocks into the new "Cityscape" project, including the Patriots Square block at Central Avenue and Washington Street. Not everyone is happy with the results, but construction is expected to begin by the end of the year.

Then there is the Thomas J. Pappas School, which joined the list in 2004. The county-run school educated homeless children, and became a favorite place for Valley residents to drop off school supplies and Christmas gifts. But then Maricopa County Schools Superintendent Sandra Dowling, who oversaw the school, was indicted and subsequently resigned as the sole member of the Pappas governing board. The entire top tier of district administrators was suspended. And with declining enrollment, the school at Fifth Avenue and Fillmore Street may be in jeopardy of closing. "I think we've outlived the need for Pappas," Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox said earlier this month.

Conchita Kollmann, chair of the Points of Pride Committee, says the group has discussed the issues but will make no decision about them until the school and the park are no more. She adds that there are plenty of new locations worthy of consideration, but as chairman of the committee, she would give no ideas.

Meanwhile, residents are encouraged to submit new Points of Pride to Kollmann's committee by Nov. 9. Nominations are on the city's Web site. The Phoenix Pride Commission will review the nominations in November and select 10 locations that will be voted on by the public early in 2008. The commission will evaluate the sites receiving the most votes and consider designating one or more as a Phoenix Point of Pride.