Tempe's Clark Park Welcomes New Swimming Pool Among Other Renovations
By Kaitlyn Humphrey, ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism
Early morning Sept. 9, eager locals and city government officials gathered at the construction site of the newly improved and renovated Clark Park plot, excited to hear the inside scoop behind the newest addition to the neighborhood. Doreen Garlid and the Tempe Government and City Council were behind the “backstage pass” informational event and walkthrough.
Clark Park was established in 1949 just off the corner of Roosevelt St. and 19th St. and has undergone various changes throughout its lifespan. A public swimming pool was added in 1974 and was closed in 2008 for renovation plans that promptly got squashed due to the recession. Now, in 2023, it is finally getting a long overdue and well-deserved facelift thanks to Tempe councilmember Doreen Garlid.
Garlid took it upon herself to kickstart the renovation of the space in 2020 after her election, in partnership with the Refresh Tempe effort and the Parks Improvement Plan which are both years-long plans to improve and renovate the city over time. The renovation included new bathrooms, a playground, a dog park, parking lots, a garden, a community center, and arguably the most exciting, a public pool.
Garlid came into the Tempe courts and government system in 2020 with various areas of experience but was mainly focused on improving communities and local neighborhoods. She immediately got started with the Clark Park renovation plans, advocating at a legal level for the approval and planning of the makeover.
Garlid was the main speaker at the “backstage pass” event this Saturday and shared with attendees the background of the park, the work behind the renovations, and what the future has in store for Clark Park. When asked what she was most looking forward to for the park’s future, she said “Parks bring people together. There are so many activities you can do here for people of all ages, people with pets; it’s gonna give us another really strong sense of community here and I’m so excited about that.”
This plan was years in the making and took nearly four years between its conceptualization and officially breaking ground in June of 2022 with its prospective opening slated for the fall of 2023. When asked if she was met with any legal pushback or issues throughout her time working on this project, Garlid explained that it was surprisingly an easy process with little to no complaints from the surrounding communities or courts. “The only problem we ran up against was that people thought we weren’t doing it fast enough - people wanted us to go quicker,” Garlid said. “There is an incredible amount of community support for this,” she added.
Alongside Garlid, multiple city government officials spoke as well as some of the people behind the physical project itself. Some of the most notable are Brandon Sobiech, the principal, cofounder, and landscape architect at Dig Studio in Phoenix; and Diane Jacobs, building architect and principal at Holly Street Studios in Phoenix.
Sobiech walked listeners through his thought process of designing the landscaping and setup for the park, saying; “With this project, the goals were really built around three principles; sustainability, connectivity, and safety.”
Jacobs had similar aims when designing the community center. “The architecture is meant to change over time and change with the people that use it. We wanted this space to be for you,” she said.
Listening to each speaker; from government officials to architects and locals, it is apparent that this renovation and the tedious work behind it from courts to conceptualization is not only accepted but welcomed with eager and open arms.