Not happy with Pima Canyon changes

Dear Editor:

I am not happy with the changes that have been made to the parking at the Pima Canyon entrance to South Mountain.

I have enjoyed hiking and trail running at South Mountain for over a dozen years and think it's fantastic that we have a park of this quality in the city. Parking at the Pima Canyon entrance has never been easy because it is a popular location, but the decision to only allow parking on one side of the street has made the situation far worse than the original arrangement. People have to walk twice as far on the road while dodging cars in order to get to the trailhead, which is a less safe situation. Cars now U-turn and block off traffic if they can't find parking on their first sweep of the roadway, which causes traffic jams and reduces safety. Parking runs all the way out to 48th Street on busy mornings, which is extremely inconvenient for trailhead access and I assume has become quite a nuisance for those living nearby.

The change was actually so poorly planned that people with bike racks on their vehicles couldn't even fit in the parking spaces that were painted on the road after the change occurred and parks services had to repaint everything to enlarge the spaces because they apparently made the change without even thinking about who uses the park.

Park rangers state emergency vehicle access as a reason for the change, yet the street was more than wide enough for fire trucks and safety vehicle access when parking was allowed on both sides. This was evidenced by my often seeing firemen bringing trucks to the park and trail running for team exercise. I also frequently saw police horses coming to the park in trailers and being ridden on the trails. Neither police or fire units using the park for training purposes appeared to have access problems so I can't believe emergency vehicle access was in any way an issue. Now, parking is so limited that horse trailers no longer have access to the trailhead.

Park rangers also state county dust ordinances as a reason for the change, but I am puzzled how people driving 5 to 10 mph could ever bring up enough dust to exceed the 20 percent opacity air quality limits stated in an ordinance that seems to mainly apply to commercial (construction and gravel) operations. There are many dirt roads in Maricopa County and stabilizing soil with gravel and other methods that don't involve paving appear to meet sufficient county ordinances in those places so I'm not sure how people using the park were thought to be exceeding them. I realize money is tight in today's economy, but, seriously, if the city of Phoenix can afford to buy a $2.4 million art installation that looks like a jellyfish for the downtown area, then somewhere there has to be a budget to allow the park to put down a little gravel on the edge of the road to meet the dust ordinance. Maybe if they paint it purple and call it an art installation, they can get money from the city's art budget.

When I lodged a complaint with the park ranger, the reply was essentially that I should drive farther and park at a different trailhead or find parking in some lot along Baseline Road that isn't on park property and walk to a trailhead from there if I didn't like the change. Aside from being environmentally unsound advice to tell people to drive farther, I was somewhat offended that the response included encouragement for park users to frequent an unpatrolled, secluded lot that isn't on park property in an area that hasn't exactly received a five-star safety rating in recent years rather than use the Pima Canyon entrance.

The point of going to the park is to enjoy a little time with nature, getting away from traffic jams, and all the problems you have to deal with at every mall parking lot around town. The change to allow parking on only one side of the street is a big step back for all park users as it will only discourage people from going there, which is what has happened with me as I rarely go hiking there now because I dread dealing with the parking.

There has to be better options and I only ask that those who are in charge of our parks take a fair look at the situation and try to work with the community to reach a better resolution rather than discouraging people from using public facilities.

Kristi Haverkamp


Not everyone upset with Pima Canyon parking

Dear Editor:

Not everyone is upset about the changes in the parking ("Parking cuts at Pima Canyon upset park-goers," AFN, April 16).

I especially don't know why Rich Grams is, since he parks in front of my house now anyways, and not in that parking lot, which, incidentally, is sometimes full for a few hours at a time.

Also, being from Chandler, how much should the citizens of Phoenix care what he has to say about our park?

Dan Cernoch


Enough of the right-wing attacks

Dear Editor:

News flash for the Ahwatukee Foothill News. There are actually some Democrats, progressives and, dare I mention the word, liberals, living in our community.

I know, because I'm one of them! And I get awfully tired of opening up my community newspaper and reading the constant radical-right attacks on anyone who is slightly to the left of Attila the Hun.

In the April 9 issue we were treated to "the Curmudgeon's Corner" stating that "our Constitution has been perverted by the American Civil Liberties Union and the liberal left-wingers of our court system and government." Chuck Roger's commentary indicates there is a liberal "Playbook" (I must have lost my copy, by the way) which demands that "liberals attack people that point up government's knack of bumbling up most of what it touches," and that we "insist life is great under socialism, I mean liberalism." And a letter to the editor ends up by pointing out the "endless, fruitless, worthless, directionless prattle liberals love to engage in."

Well, Mr. Curmudgeon, there are many who believe that our Constitution is under attack by the right, who would give our freedoms away in times of crisis, when they are most needed. And Mr. Roger, you seem so violently against giving away your hard-earned money to over-mortgaged homeowners and the long-term jobless, but I'm sure you have nothing to say about the corporate welfare system, which rewards and protects the Halliburton's of the world no matter how incompetent and rapacious they may be. And to your letter writer, I can only point out the irony in attacking liberals for their prattle after three columns of questions for a Lutheran pastor who simply posed some fascinating questions about faith and reason.

It's quite obvious that if one doesn't subscribe to your religious world view, then one's opinions are "worthless prattle." Hard to have a discussion when your entire argument is based on your faith. Since you can't be wrong, others with differing opinions can never be right.

Anyway, I get it. Liberals like me are less than human, probably have no right to live in an upright, God-fearing community like Ahwatukee, and would best be served by keeping our mouths shut. But to the editorial board, and all your columnists, I would like to point out that our community is made up of many people, of many differing opinions. It would be nice to share them in a civil discourse without the obvious right-wing attacks that have become such an enduring feature of your newspaper.

Pete Gitlin


Pages from the conservative playbook

Dear Editor:

(In response to Chuck Roger, "Pages from the liberal playbook," AFN, April 9):

Page 1: Start a war for false reasons and, despite facts, say things like "stay the course" and "the surge is working." Next, have the presidential candidate be John McCain, who displayed his military judgment early by claiming the war would pay for itself in oil revenues and be over quick, like a cake walk, but who now wants the war to last 100 more years. He doesn't know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, and sings the song "Bomb-Bomb-Bomb Bomb-Bomb Iran" to much acclaim.

Page 2: Call the Geneva Conventions "quaint" and incarcerate people indefinitely without trial. Next, having crowned McCain, know he was against torture before he was for it, voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

Page 3: Favor the corporation over the individual. Lift "liberal" regulations keeping disreputable sub-prime lenders from operating. Watch country sink. Bail out Wall Street. Next, choose McCain, who admits he doesn't know much about the economy, but owns a book on it. A millionaire who owns eight homes of his own, McCain's solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.

Page 4: Never raise taxes. Next, embrace McCain, who was against the war-time Bush tax cuts before he was for them. Now he'd like to make them permanent. He also wants to balance the budget like Reagan did, but forgot the deficit tripled during the Old Gipper's tenure.

Page 5: Rail against special interests. Next, elevate McCain, whose campaign manager and top advisors are lobbyists, and who has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

Page 6: Pander to religious bigots. Next, worship McCain, who in 2000 called them "agents of intolerance" and "un-American...corrupting influences." Then, eight years later, he aggressively seeks out their approval and lands one, John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."

Page 7: Make inroads with the African-American vote by reminding them you're actually the party of Lincoln. Next, observe McCain, who voted against the holiday for Martin Luther King before he was for it, and then apologizes for that vote in Memphis at the King assassination site, having hired a black man to hold the umbrella for him as he speaks.

Page 8: Decry the media for their liberal bias. Next, cover McCain, who calls the press "my base," in which case all the above will be presented to the American people sparsely, if at all, and always accompanied with the bogus tag, "Maverick."

Eric Day

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