Sunday, January 20, 2008

State-park cash crunch threatens links to Arizona's past

[Source: John Stanley, Arizona Republic] -- The Arizona State Parks system is suffering a midlife crisis. The 50-year-old system is showing the signs of age that only money can fix. Budget shortfalls have meant that funds designated for repairs have gone instead to operating costs. "We've bled 'em down," said Rep. Jack Brown, D-St. Johns, speaking of the Arizona Legislature's appropriations for parks. "We've said, 'Wait till next year.' We need to do better by our parks, build them up instead of trying to close them."

Problems in the system's 30 parks, which threaten Arizona's links to its past, include:
  • Water damage at the House of Apache Fires at Red Rock State Park in Sedona. "(It's) a beautiful home, and the roof's falling in, water is dripping, and the hardwood floors are buckling," said Ken Travous, who has served as Arizona State Parks director since 1988.
  • Eroding shorelines at Buckskin Mountain State Park, along the Colorado River.
  • Crumbling walls at the courthouse in McFarland State Historic Park in Florence.
  • Cracks in walls and peeling wallpaper at the popular Riordan Mansion State Historic Park in Flagstaff (pictured above).
  • A collapsed ceiling at the Yuma Quartermaster Depot Historic Park in Yuma.

"We've lost so much of Arizona's heritage and the Southwest's heritage either due to undervaluing (their importance), benign neglect or lack of funds," said Jerry Emert, manager of the Yuma Quartermaster Depot State Park. "There's a point where we need to draw a line and save these buildings. They're part of what's made Arizona, Arizona." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]