As the city continues its economic turnaround of the past couple of years, council members heard an update on how to spend $175 million in approved general obligation (GO) bonds over the fiscal years 2022-26.

GO bonds are used to fund facility, infrastructure and equipment capital improvement projects, such as flood control, open space and trails, parks, public safety, transportation, economic development and cultural and government facilities, as well as libraries.

“Council had specific questions (at the Feb. 27 workshop) and we are here to address them and review our GO bond authorization list staff presented,” Assistant City Manager Tom Duensing said.

Council reviews and approves the 10-year capital improvement plan (CIP), which serves as a 10-year roadmap for constructing, repairing, maintaining and improving present and future infrastructure needs.  

Capital improvement projects are considered non-routine capital expenditures that generally cost more than $50,000 and result in the purchase of equipment and software; acquisition of land; funding of capital needs assessment studies; paying for design and construction of new assets; and funding the renovation, rehabilitation or expansion of existing capital assets.

During the Feb. 27 workshop, staff presented a list of 26 projects that were ranked after much discussion over which projects the city should plan for the upcoming bond money.

Some of the top projects listed were the underground storage tank replacement at the city government facilities; numerous flood control improvements; and street and public safety projects.

The flood projects, which have been scheduled for 2023, were moved up to one of the top projects in 2021-22.

Among the items questioned most during the March 6 workshop were storm drains, park improvements, a field operation campus, city hall remodel and a possible community resource center.

Storm drains

Two flood projects, Bethany Home Road and Camelback Road storm drains, were listed as two of the top four projects earmarked for GO bond funding.

The Bethany Home Road storm drain, which would run from 58th to 79th avenues, and was originally planned to begin in fiscal year 2023, was moved up because the project matches Maricopa County Flood Control District criteria for 50-50 funding.

“This is a project we want to do and we applied to the flood district and they agreed to match us 50-50,” City Engineer David D. Beard said. “Once we located the funding for half, we moved the project up to merge with everyone’s capital improvement plans.”

The two projects are estimated to cost the city approximately $14.3 million, but voters only approved about $7 million to be used for flood control projects. The Bethany Home Road flood project alone is estimated to cost the city $11.3 million, which means council may need to go to voters for approval to issue more bonds to get the project completed.

Bond breakdown

Staff said $175 million was available in bond funding.

The bonds are broken into seven separate areas where the approved funds can be used: government facilities, public safety, parks, open space/trails, streets, flood control and library.

The breakdown of available money is $24 million for government facilities; $98 million for public safety; $14.2 million for parks; $50 million for open spaces/trails; $12.6 million for streets; $6.8 million for flood control; and $17 million for libraries.

No projects are listed for open space/trails and transportation. Many of the original transportation projects listed in February were moved from GO bonds projects after council ended its partnership with Valley Metro light rail, which resulted in a surplus of transportation funds.

“An example of this breakdown is, if council decides to do the projects listed, I would anticipate having to go to voters to approve more parks bonds because we only have $14.2 million available now for parks,” Duensing said.

Park improvements

Council members in February asked for more park projects to be included, including refurbishing O’Neil Park and the completion of Heroes Regional Park.

Jim Burke, new director of public, facilities, recreation and special events, said the city is in dire need of repairing and improving the more than 100 city parks.

“Nearly 53 percent of the parks in this city are older than 35 years, and some are nearly 57 years old,” Burke said. “When they get that old, things need to be replaced, and the park infrastructure system is not planned to last that long.”

Burke said staff researched a plan that would initially fix basic infrastructure to make the parks more warm and welcoming to residents.

“In a recent poll, nearly 75 percent of citizens use our parks, and we need to balance the expectations of them and finish projects that have been promised to them,” Burke said.

Under parks bonds, the city has slightly more than $14 million available, but lists more than $55 million in identified projects.

Duensing said the city has more than $50 million available in approved bonds under open space/trails, and staff would ask the city’s bond attorney if some parks projects could be used with that funding.

Burke used O’Neil Park as an example, showing the estimated cost of redoing the park at nearly $5.2 million. That would include replacing the racquetball courts with smaller foot soccer fields and adding more grass, but it would not include the pool that has been closed there for years.

“I don’t want to see us bulldoze that pool and say we don’t need a pool there,” Ocotillo Councilman Jamie Aldama said. “That pool needs to be replaced with something, and the pool is one item that used to exist and we cannot level it and put grass just to say it looks great.”

Burke said city staff would hold public meetings to see what citizens want at the new park.

Yucca Councilmember Joyce Clark questioned how staff would decide which projects would be prioritized.

“I understand there needs to be flexibility on the $42 million in projects, and you have talked about rehabbing old park infrastructure, but how do you balance against the need for longstanding needed completion of Heroes Park?” Clark asked.

Burke said the city has conceptual plans for Heroes Park and that more would be presented when staff showcases a new Park Master Plan in the near future.

“We are going to listen to the entire community and come back with proposals for all the park projects,” Burke said. “Everything from rehabbing old parks to completion of a number of projects that have been promised will be part of this.”

Field Operations campus/City Hall

The city has listed nearly $9 million in improvements to the field operations campus, located on Myrtle Avenue across from the Glendale High School football stadium.

“It is our 50-acre campus that currently has 19 buildings, and most were constructed from 1972 to 1976,” Deputy Public Works Director Michelle Woytenko said. “Our field operations master plan was last completed in 1998 and updated in 2002.”

Also included is a complete remodel of the 90,000-square-foot City Hall, including office space, as well as a customer service center for residents. But the main discussion was about the field operations campus.

In 2002, the city purchased nearby Lazy J trailer park for future expansion, but council members wondered why they needed the additional land.

“I am still puzzled because it seems like the 50 acres should be able to accommodate everything, and I have been there and there is a lot of space available,” Vice Mayor Lauren Tolmachoff said.

 “We have architects under contract and they have looked at this, as well as the City Hall remodel,” Woytenko said. “Our first phase is to do a needs assessment and we will bring it back to council in April depending on what staff should be moved from City Hall to the field operation campus.”

Among the items identified for the campus are more office space for staff and a multi-dispensary building.

“We are looking to create a multi-dispensary building because staff wants to have a space to come together for meeting and believe this would be ideal for this location,” Woytenko said.

Community resource center

Community Services Director Stephanie Small presented a staff proposal for a possible community resource center that would house numerous nonprofits in one location.

“Governments have realized taking a holistic approach to helping those in need,” Small said. “Resource centers have become a great way that cities are doing that now.”

The purpose of a community resource center is to place a number of human services and nonprofits in one location.

“This allows for one location for numerous public services, such as nonprofits and faith-based organizations,” Small said. “Numerous agencies have approached the city about doing something like this, but there are numerous opportunities to work with private partners for cost as well as numerous grant opportunities.”

Small pointed to Avondale, which recently opened the Care1st Avondale Resource Center, which is the result of a partnership between the city of Avondale, Care1st Health Plan of Arizona Inc. and First Things First.

The center offers a variety of human services, from programs for parents with children birth to 5 to assistance with applying for public assistance. It is open to families in the Southwest Valley and beyond and not limited to residents of Avondale.

Clark questioned the cost and if the city should be involved.

“Are you asking for the city to build a building for nonprofits to co-locate in one building and I am not sure that is the city’s role,” Clark said. “Avondale, how much in terms of funding did private nonprofits provide towards construction of theirs?”

Small said, “The Avondale center created a public-private partnership and they used an old library that was not being used,” adding renovating costs were split among everyone involved.

Small said Avondale’s center has approximately 20 nonprofits at its location and that they do not pay rent to the city, but operation and maintenance costs are paid by federal grants.

Clark said if the nonprofits were in favor of Glendale creating a resource center, they should help pay for it.

“I just am not sure it is a city’s function to do this and I would put this on the nonprofits to how much they want this,” Clark said. “I would like staff to reach out to these nonprofits and see how much they would be willing to belly up to the bar and give me information on how dire the need is, if they feel the need is dire.”

Council gave consensus for staff to continue researching the list and bring back at a future workshop for final approval of projects.