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12425 West Bell Road, Suite D-100

Surprise, Arizona 85374


May 15, 2007




Call to Order:


Chairman Lyn Truitt called the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. in the Surprise City Hall, 12425 West Bell Road, Suite D100, Surprise, Arizona 85374, on Tuesday, May 15, 2007.


In attendance with Chairman Truitt were Commissioners Richard Alton, Steve Somers, Wayne Tuttle and Fred Watts.   Vice Chair Blair and Commissioner Skip Hall were absent. 




Assistant City Attorney Jim Gruber; City Planner Dennis Dorch; City Planner Nicole Green-Catten; City Planner Bart Wingard; City Planner David Neal; City Planner Gard Garland; City Planner Lance Ferrell; Planning and Development Services Manager Berrin Nejad; Parks and Recreation Director Mark Coronado; Parks and Recreation Analyst Heidi Gannuscio; Planning and Community Development Director Scott Chesney; and Planning and Zoning Commission Secretary Carol Dager.




Bart Wingard, planner for parks and open space projects, announced that he has been working for several months with EDAW who has been commissioned to conduct research on the City’s parks and trails plans. 


Planner Wingard noted the following dates when presentations of the EDAW report will be held:


            May 31           City Management

            June 12          CRS Board and Public Review

            June 14          City Council Workshop

            July 17            P&Z Commission (recommendation for approval of plan)

            August 23       City Council (adoption of plan)


Conrad Smith, EDAW, provided some background information about their international firm, noting that they currently have approximately six parks and recreation master plans throughout the United States.  He mentioned that the EDAW’s Phoenix office staff has been working diligently on the Surprise project.


Mr. Smith talked briefly about the economic value of parks and open space, indicating that it is a challenge to place an economic value on parks and open space.  Developers do not readily envision the value, although they charge higher premiums for the properties that face the open spaces.  It is EDAW’s responsibility to assist and teach planners and developers that there is a value, how the City can implement the plans, and how to pay for parks. 


He mentioned that the National Parks and Recreation Association (NRPA) sets the standards, specifically identifying how many acres per person per park should be planned.  At this point in time, EDAW is at the assessment stage and will follow with a proposed implementation of services.  It is EDAW’s expectation to review the City’s current situation and plan for the future.


In response to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Smith replied that the EDAW study was authorized by City Council in January, 2007.   The study is currently being prepared and will be ready for public review at its completion.    


Jim Atkins, EDAW planner, provided a background of his experience and explained the beginning process of the study.  He presented an overview of the approach to the plan:


·   Existing Parks Inventory

·   Benchmark Comparisons

·   NRPA Standards

·   Park Ranking System

·   Proposed Trail System

·   Trail System Standards

·   Parks Maintenance and Operations Costs


Mr. Atkins mentioned that they did an assessment of the existing parks that the City currently maintains, which includes:


·   3 Pocket Parks

·   4 Neighborhood Parks

·   3 Community Parks


After the assessment of these parks, they did a benchmark comparison with other valley cities (including total acres of park and residents per acre of parks):

·   Peoria

·   Goodyear

·   Glendale

·   Scottsdale


There were also national comparisons, reviewing cities of similar population size:


·   Lee’s Summit, Missouri

·   Richardson, Texas

·   Longmont, Colorado

·   Roseville, California


Mr. Atkins stressed that it is important for Surprise to establish benchmark standards for the types of parks they want to have in the City.  To this end, he suggested that the NRPA standards should be the basis (considering it is a national standard) and the City can expand on those.  


He pointed out that Surprise is somewhat behind in its number of parks; however, it is understandable considering its rapid growth, often known as one of the fastest-growing communities in the country.


Mr. Atkins next covered park classifications, explaining their recommendations for Surprise, projecting the number of parks in each category that should be considered through 2030. Recommendations included 9 acres of open space per 1,000 residents (6 acres of active space and 3 acres of passive space). 


In response to Chairman Truitt, Mr. Atkins replied that they do recognize that the HOA parks are included in the neighborhood parks recommendations.  Mr. Smith mentioned that maintenance of these parks do become an issue, noting that the minimum recommendation of 5 acres for a neighborhood park is most cost effective. 


In response to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Atkins stated that the study did include the White Tanks Mountain Regional Park, although it is outside Surprise’s planning area.  Mr. Smith added that the survey did include the service area which is based on the City’s population and covers a 5-mile radius.  Mr. Atkins suggested that there is a potential for a new regional park in the northwest planning area.


Mr. Atkins went over the existing community parks, which includes the recreational campus and Marley Park, as well as another park projected for Surprise Farms.  The study considers available land, projecting locations for future parks and strategically placing them throughout the City.


Mr. Smith commented that part of the study’s process is considering a funding mechanism for purchasing land for potential future parks. 


Mr. Atkins indicated that a major component of the plan is to develop a park ranking system which will promote a high standard for new parks because Surprise planners are interested in creating above-average parks for its residents.  This plan would provide an incentive to developers who go above and beyond (although the incentive has not been determined at this time). 


Responding to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Atkins explained that NRPA has proposed a ranking system matrix that they designed.  He stressed that this matrix includes a set standard of minimums for amenities that can be expanded.  Mr. Smith added that this matrix was specifically designed for Surprise to use as a marketing tool, as well as a performance tool. 


Parks and Recreation Director Mark Coronado added his comments about the matrix, emphasizing that it appears to be a good planning tool.


There was some discussion about the proposed trail system standards and the connectivity of an 89.3-mile uninterrupted regional trail throughout the City.  The plan proposes connecting to existing and future neighborhood, community and regional parks. 


In response to Commissioner Alton, Mr. Atkins noted that the plan does include horse trails, as well as pedestrian and bike trails. 




Pursuant to A.R.S. § 38-431.03(A)(3), the Planning and Zoning Commission may go into executive session with the City Attorney for legal advice on any item listed on the agenda.


There was no request made to call for an executive session.




Hearing no further business, the Planning and Zoning Commission workshop meeting was adjourned on Tuesday, May 15, 2007 at 5:50 p.m.





       Scott R. Chesney, Director

       Planning/Community Development Department