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Phoenix looks for ways to fund renovations to well-used hiking trails

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Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

By Jamie Warren


JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: Right now the city of Phoenix relies on volunteers to maintain the trails. So I took a look at how the city is looking for ways to pay for the maintenance of some of its most popular parks.

Nick Palomares hikes Piestewa Peak every morning and has for the past three decades.

NICK PALOMARES/HIKER: This is the one that I enjoy the most.

JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: Nick says hiking has kept him in good health.

NICK PALOMARES/HIKER: Not only physically but also mentally.

JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: And he enjoys the community that has formed over time.

Over a million hikers lace up their shoes, park their cars, and take to the Echo Canyon, Cholla and Piestewa trails each year. But after all these years and all these feet, some of the trails are starting to erode, causing some safety concerns for some hikers in the area. In fact, the city’s trails face a number of problems.

KEN VONDERSCHER/PHOENIX PARKS AND RECREATION: … litter, vandalism, amount of people.

JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: The suggestion of adding parking meters to help maintain them was quickly shot down. And now the city’s left looking for new ways to earn the trails more money.

KEN VONDERSCHER/PHOENIX PARKS AND RECREATION: We’re budgeted to have rangers on the trail. We’re not budgeted – we don’t have a specific line item for trail renovation.

JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: To pay for the trail maintenance, one Phoenix City Council member has a plan that could impact another city recreation area – Phoenix’s public golf courses.

JIM WARING/PHOENIX VICE MAYOR: Maybe we should look at selling these courses to people who actually know how to make them work better. And they can still be golf courses, but there’s certainly a market for golf and maybe somebody can do it better.

JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: Although, he says he’s the only council member who has suggested this measure so far.

For now, hikers like Nick will continue enjoying the trails…

NICK PALOMARES/HIKER: Just sit down and enjoy the view.

JAMIE WARREN/CRONKITE NEWS: …And hope that the city will soon have a clearer view when it comes to paying for these popular parks.

In Phoenix, I’m Jamie Warren, Cronkite News.