OPINION: Dinosaur Park should be transferred to and be maintained by Pinal County

Dinosaur Park is at 5639 S. Alameda Road in Gold Canyon.

In 1998, a Gold Canyon citizen group met with representatives of the Apache Junction Unified School District Governing Board, Gold Canyon ADOBE (Association for the Development of a Better Environment) and the Pinal County Board of Supervisors to discuss and evaluate the concept of developing a community park in Gold Canyon. Consequently, a mutual decision was made between the entities to work together to accomplish that goal.

In 2002, the Gold Canyon Community Dinosaur Park was dedicated at a striking community-wide ceremony, with the park to be administered under the management direction of ADOBE.

A salient aspect of the process was the mutual agreement that the AJUSD Governing Board would allow the park to be built on an unused plot (about ½ acre) of land located on the property where the Gold Canyon Elementary School is located.  The park was built and has been maintained through funding from ADOBE, citizen donations, gratis work/material, the city of Apache Junction and Pinal County. Thousands of dollars and person hours have been expended in maintaining the park per se, constructing two ramadas, purchasing contemporary playground equipment, gravel placement, weed control, garbage disposal, professional landscaping and the like.

Because of declining school enrollments, the AJUSD Governing Board voted (based on voter approval) to sell the elementary school.  Once sold, the land on which the park is located goes with the sale.

In the past few months the AJUSD Governing Board has been attempting to fulfill the mandate of the citizens to sell the property and at the same time attempt to keep the park intact. The ADOBE Board of Directors understand (attorney position) that an option, in accordance with Arizona Law, allows the plot of land on which the park is located to be transferred to Pinal County in perpetuity. If this transfer occurs, the county would take full responsibility for the keeping and maintaining of the park in perpetuity, the same way it does for other county parks.  Honorable County Supervisor Todd House has stated concerning this matter, that he “would like to have the county take the park over.”  This type of option is the option the ADOBE Board of Directors (administrators of the park) agree with, which allows governmental and community groups to work together in partnership, yet at the same time allowing each group to maintain their own autonomy.

This issue has been placed on the agenda for the upcoming AJUSD Governing Board meeting to be held on Jan. 23. The ADOBE Board of Directors respectfully asks that: (a) the AJUSD Governing Board approve the legal option to transfer the parcel of land on which the park is located to Pinal County in perpetuity, and, (b) the Honorable Todd House take immediate action consistent with his position to ensure the parcel and park are accepted by the county in perpetuity and that the park is maintained by Pinal County as the Gold Canyon Dinosaur County Park, in perpetuity.

Glenn A. Walp
Gold Canyon ADOBE

[Related links https://apachejunctionindependent.com/opinion/opinion-help-save-dinosaur-park/ and https://apachejunctionindependent.com/education/gold-canyon-elementary-sold-apache-junction-school-board-decides/]

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