History Happens Here: Groundbreaking then, focal point now

(File photo)

(Photos by Arianna Grainey, Independent Newspapers)

History oftentimes is forgotten as time passes. This weekly series will feature old photographs from the Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent’s archives, held up in the exact place that they were originally taken, in the style of Dear Photograph.

This week’s image came from the Independent’s files. It ran in the April 3-9, 1996, edition on page 4.

The original caption reads: “LOOK HERE. Randy Kinnear, president of the Apache Junction Main Street Board of Directors, city Mayor Doug Coleman and Bob Debow break ground for a focal point monument to be installed at the “ “Y” in Apache Junction.”

The photo was included in the Speak Out section on the opinions page accompanying a call of complaint about the city council spending $121,000 dollars on the city’s focal point monument.

The anonymous caller felt that the monument was a waste of money.

In an editor’s note below the call transcript, it was included that the money for the focal point comes from a trust fund and could only be spent on physical improvements to the median and rights-of-way on Apache Trail.

The fund was established in 1982, when Arizona Department of Transportation turned the street over to the city. As of the printing of the April 3-9,1996 edition, about $400,000 had been spent on curbs, gutters, landscaping and city entrance signs, among other projects.

Apache Junction Councilman Jeff Struble has been on the focal point committee for 9 or 10 years, he said.

“We wanted to create a focal point within Apache Junction,” he said. “It (the downtown art scene) was meant to be built out from there.”

Nick Blake, landscape architect, worked on the project.

“I consulted with Jeff Bell, our former parks and recreation director. and they just came up with the design out there now,” Mr. Blake said. “We took it before city council and they liked it.

Mr. Blake’s favorite part of the monument is that the community has finally embraced it he said.

“When it first went in there was controversy over it,” he said. “I think a lot of people thought the horse people in the community had too much influence, some people thought it didn’t look professional.”

Mr. Blake said now people have come to embrace it as part of downtown.

Mr. Struble said there are committees working to put more public art in the area, especially in the medians of Apache Trail.

“We would like to put art and sculptures up and down the median from one end of town to other,” Apache Junction Mayor Jeff Serdy said.

The next piece of public art will be a 16-foot-tall kachina in the median, Mr. Serdy said.

While the focal point monument was built in 1996, people can still add their own personal touches.

“You can continue to buy pavers at the focal point,” Mr. Struble said. “We have the engraving done and guarantee for 20 years.”

If people are interested in purchasing pavers, they can contact Friends of Apache Junction, city clerk or parks and recreation, Mr. Stuble said.

If people are interested in donating pieces of art for the medians, Mr. Serdy said to contact the Friends of Apache Junction.

For more information on Friends of Apache Junction visit: https://friendsofapachejunction.wordpress.com.


Want to help with this project? If you have any old photographs that would be interesting to recreate in this way, e-mail them to agrainey@newszap.com for consideration. Include any information that you have about the photo subject and content. Follow this project on Instagram @history_happens_here_az.

Arianna Grainey is a freelance photojournalist.

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