Tempe expects major development in next three decades

As the long-term Rio Salado and Beach Park Masterplan moves forward, planners look to residents for input.

As stated by the City of Tempe, the Rio Salado and Beach Park is the area on both sides of Tempe Town Lake between Priest Drive and Rural Road. The plan, which will guide the development process based on recommendations and research, will “focus on programming, infrastructure, access, use of space and land/water activities to provide a blueprint for the future of the area.”

“This is meant to be a 20-to-30-year outlook, so it’s not specifically saying we want this in this particular corner,” said Bonnie Richardson, City of Tempe Architect and Principal Planner. “But more of what’s appropriate for the park in the city based on a lot of the constraints, and also the opportunities.”

Richardson explained that the plan will face a variety of opportunities and constraints as it moves forward. Some of the limitations include wayfinding, dead grass, limited connections from development and limited public access to the lake.

The planners conducted two surveys to gauge the public’s thoughts and suggestions regarding the Rio Salado and Beach Park Masterplan. The respondents said they would like to see a multitude of changes and additions including more shade, green infrastructure, food and drink options, kid-friendly play areas and pedestrian bridges.

Richardson said public feedback is helpful for the development process and “engaging the public really makes it feel like it’s their park and they will then have an interest in taking care of it and supporting it.”

Considering the constraints and the residents’ desires for the future of the park allows the project planners to notice the vast opportunities.

Richardson noted that the Rio Salado and Beach Park could feature small and large event venues, watersports, small shops, steps leading to the water’s edge and more. As requested by some of the survey respondents, the planners are considering implementing a birdwatching spot in the park’s riparian area, developing an East Pedestrian Bike Bridge and increasing overall accessibility to the park.

The current transformation of the area has already attracted companies and other development along the waterfront and in close proximity to the park, and the Rio Salado and Beach Park planners want to serve the people who spend time in those buildings.

Survey participants who work along or nearby the park said they are most interested in using the park for walking, running, biking, water activities and takeout meal options.  

While developing the plan, Richardson and other planners are remaining flexible and want to keep their options open.  

“Who knows what people want to do 20 years from now?” said Richardson. “Even as you look at all of the technology that’s going on- how do we use that? How do we make it interesting for people who are in the park?”

The Rio Salado and Beach Park Masterplan renovation and expansion may lead an increase in tourism in the area.

“We think that it’s already a great spot and it’s important to really develop these other activities,” said Richardson. “As we get more people living around the lake, as well as hotels which will be going in very close to the park, we can provide more activities that will attract people to the region.”

The Rio Salado and Beach Park Masterplan is a long-term plan, but steps are already being taken to move it forward. The plan will be presented on Thursday, Sept. 20 at the City Council Work Study Session at Tempe City Hall.

Sierra Ciaramella

Add comment

Subscribe to the Dry Heat

Get updates on the most important news delivered right to your email. Fully personalized options. No SPAM. Unsubscribe anytime.

Sign Me Up!

Let’s Get Social

Chamber Business News wants to connect with you. Follow us, tweet, share, post, comment... however you get social is the perfect way to connect.