“Whereas the immediate operation of the provisions of this ordinance is necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety of the city of Glendale, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, and this ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage, adoption and approval by the mayor and council of the city of Glendale, and it is hereby exempt from the referendum provisions of the Constitution and the laws of the State of Arizona.”
This is the last paragraph of Ordinance 1090, which was passed, adopted and approved by the mayor and council of the city of Glendale on Aug. 28, 1979.
In 1979, saving Glen Lakes was “declared an emergency,” and the mayor and council decided title to and possession of it be acquired by the city by donation, purchase, or under the power of eminent domain for the purpose of establishing a “public park for a golf course.” Let me read that again from the minutes of the Aug. 28, 1979, Glendale City Council meeting. A public park for a golf course.
In a separate but relevant action, in November of 1999, the residents of Glendale passed General Obligation Bond Proposition No. 10 in the principal amount of $53 million. The purpose of this bond was “Planning and acquiring land and interests therein for preservation of open space, planning, acquiring, and constructing multi-use trails and linear parks, including but not limited to lighted walkways, play areas, benches, amphitheater, artwork, fountains, landscaping and equestrian trails and acquiring land and interests therein as may be needed for such facilities and purposes.”
In that same election, Glendale residents also passed Proposition No. 7 in the amount of $57.2 million for parks and recreation and Proposition No. 1 in the amount of $18.2 million for “cultural facility and preservation of historic properties.” Although the 1999 propositions were nothing to do with Glen Lakes, their passage emphasizes the desire of Glendale residents to maintain, support and fund open space, parks and historic properties, all three of which Glen Lakes is considered.
The residents of Glendale, and prior city councils and mayors, clearly valued their open space and parks. Long before the times of social distancing, and certainly now during, residents turn to the outdoors to connect with their surroundings and neighbors. Indeed, parks and open space speak to the quality of life in a community. To fill in the open space of Glen Lakes, for it to become anything other than public-use outdoor space is a betrayal to those residents past and present, those councils and the community itself.
And, to the property owners who have invested their lives and finances to live in the shadows of its 50-year-old trees.
Public comment periods at council and planning meetings have seen resident after resident come forward against the development of the Glen Lakes parcel, and community meetings have been filled with residents angry and upset.
It appears that very few, if any, Glendale residents actually support the development of the Glen Lakes parcel, aside from the elected officials leading the charge. Glen Lakes is not currently an eyesore dirt lot waiting to fulfill its potential. It is a beautiful habitat of grass, trees and wildlife that is an integral part of the fabric of the Barrel District and of Glendale itself. A beautiful landscape cut off from its community by chain-link fencing, at a time that it could be filled with neighbors and community.
I understand the planning commission recommendation is just that. A recommendation to the city council and mayor. It is my hope that the planning commission (and ultimately the mayor and city council) will consider recommending the entire parcel of Glen Lakes be kept under the land-use designation of Parks and Open Space, to be preserved and reimagined for future use, to become once again the open space Glendale residents want, need and deserve.
Because once it is lost, it will be gone forever.