Beautiful meadow and tree in the park

"As the 100th anniversary of South Mountain Park and Preserve approaches, we can take a contentious issue and achieve a similar level of success, setting aside these spaces as an inheritance for future generations to treasure."

The battle over the Ahwatukee Lakes and Club West golf courses drags toward a seventh year with an acceptable resolution no closer than on day one.  

A new vision is needed to resolve the impasse, finding a creative way to repurpose this space. 

The clear solution is for the City of Phoenix to reach an agreement with Wilson Gee to purchase the course, settle the lawsuits and turn the courses into public parks. 

This will allow for retention of the only desirable aspects of the past proposals, a new space for the Ahwatukee Farmers Market and a high percentage of natural space.  

Except with this proposal, 100 percent of the courses would become natural space as opposed to whatever much lower percentage the developers promise and then would clearly ignore while building.  

It will provide additional options for outdoor recreation, reducing pressure on some over-loved areas of South Mountain Park. It will create community gathering spaces and help Ahwatukee remain a desirable and treasured place to live.   

This will require some sacrifice and compromise on all sides. Mr. Gee will need to follow through on his public statements regarding potentially giving the land away or making deals to unload it and sell the land to the City at a reasonable price.  

Homeowners along the course will need to accept a different future for the land than being a golf course. 

 City residents will need to spend money on improving our community. 

 And we all will need to move past a divisive half decade and focus together on what our community could be.

It will require us to focus on a longer-term vision for our community. It may not appear the right decision in this moment, but it will be.  

Future generations will be grateful we took this step. We have taken so much from future generations, this will be a chance to balance the ledger, to preserve spaces and a legacy for the next century and beyond. 

Ahwatukee’s unique identity, what sets it apart from other areas in Phoenix, has been a sense of solitude from being tucked into South Mountain.  With the new 202 freeway eliminating this identity, something is needed to replace it. 

 The rest of the East Valley is in a race to fill all available open space with increasingly dense mixed- use developments and identical retail outlets.  

In order to remain unique, to maintain a distinct identity, we can go in the other direction. 

 Let’s protect and preserve the remaining open spaces in our community. Add to the natural landscape that draws people from all over the world.  

Because earlier generations had the vision and fortitude to set aside public spaces, we get to enjoy Desert Foothills Park, Pecos Park, Western Star Park, and others as spaces for relaxation, celebration, and community gatherings.  

And the centerpiece of our community and city, South Mountain Park and Preserve, only exists because individuals in the community were willing to set aside short-term gain and focus on how the community would look 100 years in the future.  

As the 100th anniversary of South Mountain Park and Preserve approaches, we can take a contentious issue and achieve a similar level of success, setting aside these spaces as an inheritance for future generations to treasure.   

Andy Lenartz is an Ahwatukee resident who writes frequently about local mountain biking and hiking opportunities for AFN.

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