Friday Urban Dispatches: April 4

For Friday April 4: Friday Urban Dispatches are a unique boots-on-the-ground perspective of what’s happening in our own backyard of downtown Phoenix.

The Friday Urban Dispatches are a unique boots-on-the-ground perspective of what’s happening in our own backyard of downtown Phoenix.

friDispatchHance…enHANCEd. Last week was the big master plan reveal for the next chapter in the life of downtown’s Hance Park.  The plan delineates the park into three areas: a neighborhood park on the west, a civic plaza in the middle, and a performance hub on the east.

BIDding for Roosevelt Row. The City of Phoenix is in the process of authorizing up to $80,000 to study whether an Enhanced Municipal Services District (EMSD), otherwise known as a Business Improvement District (BID), would work in the Roosevelt Row neighborhood.  The academic literature is mixed on its assessment of EMSDs but a couple trends and themes quickly emerge: 1. Property values in EMSDs do rise significantly.  For real estate investors, this is good; for independent shops, can they shoulder the added expense of their lease payment?  2. EMSDs are generally instituted in areas that have significant decline in property values or civic interest.  If there’s one neighborhood in central city Phoenix for which that is the exact opposite, it would be Roosevelt Row.

Budgeting for the worst. Since the last Friday Urban Dispatch, the City of Phoenix released their trial budget and their cuts-only solution to ameliorate a $38 million deficit from the books is not pretty.  It closes parks and parks-related programming, slashes operational support to arts and cultural organizations, and places minimal value on the civic fabric of our community.  While I do think some long-standing contracts, including employee compensation, need to be looked at, to fix this year’s budget through cuts only is not right.  Was the 2% food tax phased down too early?  Maybe.

A podcast of action. After Monday, The Downtown Phoenix Podcast will be 3/4 finished with its inaugural series production. What’s in store for it after the series 1 finale goes online on April 21?  Even I don’t know.  I have been pleased with its reception and I am sure it will be back for even greater things.

Thank you, Debra. Tonight is First Friday and I hope that you’ll be able to come by Obliq Art at the Arizona Center for a community tribute to the life and legacy of Debra Friedman, the former Dean of the ASU College of Public Programs who unexpectedly passed away in January. To those who had the great privilege to work alongside Dr. Friedman, it was so evident that the arts held a special place in both her heart and as a cornerstone for the partnerships that she facilitated.

Debra Friedman (1955-2014), an appreciation

News came early Sunday evening of the passing of UW Tacoma chancellor Debra Friedman. I worked with her during her time at ASU. She will be missed.

Friedman_Debra-memorialThe news came early Sunday evening of the passing of Dr. Debra Friedman, the Chancellor of the University of Washington Tacoma and the former Dean of the ASU College of Public Programs. My condolences and sympathies go to Debra’s daughter Eliana, her family, her colleagues at the UW Tacoma and ASU, and the thousands of lives she touched.

While at the ASU College of Public Programs (my alma mater), Dr. Friedman was the Dean in charge of moving that College from its longtime home at ASU’s main Tempe campus to its new home (and very uncertain future) at the burgeoning Downtown Phoenix campus. She believed in open access, strong partnerships between the University and the community it serves, and the notion that our future civic leaders can and will come from all walks of life and from places not normally expected.

I had the great privilege to work with Dr. Friedman during my tenure as a Student Ambassador for the College of Public Programs from 2008-2011. While a student-to-student voice certainly helped in recruiting new students to the College, I was told that part of the reason our program existed was because she wanted students in the Dean’s Office as an ever-present reminder to the faculty and staff that we (the students) are the reason they (the staff) are in their jobs. And we weren’t just student workers–the lowest rung on the totem pole–we were colleagues with the adult staff in one shared mission: to advance the College and make it still better and better.

And so we will do, albeit with heavy hearts, what Dr. Friedman wanted us to do: make our communities still better and better.

Thank you, Debra.

(image credit: The University of Washington Tacoma)