Progress on a long-term endeavor to enhance the Papago Park area will be marked today by Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix officials.
They’ll meet for an opening ceremony at one of three landmark installations recently constructed on canal banks in and near the 1,600-acre park that runs through parts of Phoenix and Tempe north of Loop 202 and along a portion of S cottsdale’s southern boundary.
Each of the three sites —one in each city — features a large circular rest-stop seating structure that provides directional signage and information about the history of the Papago area and the Valley’s canal system.
One is on the west bank of the Crosscut Canal south of McDowell Road in Tempe, another is on the north side of the Arizona Canal at 64th Street and Indian School Road in Scottsdale and a third is on the Arizona Canal at 48th Street north of Indian School Road in Phoenix.
The installations were built by the Salt River Project, which operates the canals and is a partner in the Papago Salado Association, a joint venture with the three cities to improve and promote the park and canal banks as a recreational and cultural attraction.
The project is part of a master plan for a series of amenities the association hopes to complete in the next decade or so, said Debbie Abele, Papago Salado director and Scottsdale’s historic preservation officer.
Planned additions include gateway structures, shade structures, lighting installations along trails and in recreation areas, landscaped gardens, public art and pedestrian bridges over the canals.
Plans also call for improvements to an 11-mile loop trail and completion of trails linking the park to nearby attractions such as Tempe Town Lake, Pueblo Grande archaeological park, Phoenix Zoo, Desert Botanical Gardens and the Arizona Historical Society Museum.
Tempe recently completed improvements along almost 1 1 /2 miles of canal bank south of McDowell Road and plans another mile of improvements at the southern end of the park. Scottsdale plans to make canal bank improvements in the next year from McDowell Road to Thomas Road.
Federal transportation funding and matching funds from Phoenix are expected to provide about $1 million for trail building, shade structures and signage, and another $400,000 from Phoenix will finance a major pedestrian canal bridge, Abele said.
The Papago Park area is valuable because it’s a regionally significant cultural site as well as a scenic open-space sanctuary amid increasingly urbanized surroundings, said Tempe Mayor Hugh Hallman.
"It . . . preserves some of the more important aspects of the character and environment in which our communities developed,’’ Hallman said.
What: Dedication of rest-stop installations on canal banks as part of Papago Park area improvement project
When: 10 a.m today
Where: Crosscut Canal in Tempe, south of McDowell Road in Papago Park (use Phoenix Zoo entrance from Galvin Parkway and follow signs into park)
Information: (602) 236-2500