A local group is moving forward with its plans to make improvements to Camp Verde’s Rezzonico Family Park, adjacent to the Verde River, where it passes under the Black Bridge on Montezuma Castle Highway.
Centuries ago, the park was a Sinaguan front yard, as evidenced by archaeological traces of pit houses that once occupied the land. Today, it’s a town-owned plot with river access that will soon be home to a sculpture marking Camp Verde as the geographic center of Arizona.
It could be much more, and that’s what Camp Verde Women Taking Action is hoping to see develop.
While the group consists primarily of women, members are quick to point out that doesn’t mean men can’t get involved as well.
The Camp Verde Town Council gave the group a nod of approval and now its members are setting out to accomplish as much as they can in the next 90 days.
“Our proposal was resoundingly approved,” group organizer Charlotte Chase said. “[The Town Council] was very supportive of our attempt to fix up Rezzonico Park.”
Ninety days isn’t a particularly long time, but the group believes it can accomplish some reasonable goals in that time frame, including possibly some landscaping and the delineation of parking areas.
Future plans could include attempts to bring some sort of irrigation system to the park to keep it green. Chase said the town has already agreed to eventually move picnic tables out to the park.
The group is also doing its best to work with the concerns of the park’s neighbors, residents who live along adjacent Black Bridge Loop Road.
David White, who was raised on the road and whose mother still lives there, was at the group’s planning meeting Wednesday, Feb. 29, acting as a liaison.
White said the residents weren’t really even aware there was going to be a park until they looked out the window one day and saw some heavy equipment.
“They are very nervous about the size of the park,” White said. “They are concerned about the possibility of nighttime use. It’s always been a quiet neighborhood.”
Some people who have taken advantage of nearby access to the Verde River have already created some headaches, White said, including one woman who has had to deal with trespassers, litter and even slashed tires.
The group agreed to work with White to identify possible solutions and try to alleviate any concerns of the residents.
Chase said the group could look into appropriate signage, potential fencing or a barricade and could reach out to the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office to help see the town’s laws enforced.
Of course, just about any plans will require money, and the women’s group is currently operating on a shoestring.
To help bring in more funds, the group is working with Rainbow Acres, the local home for developmentally disabled adults, to create a number of decorated collection jars or cans to set up in several businesses and other locations around town.
“It would be nice to see if we could get a few of these businesses to give up a little bit of money for this park,” group member Cathy Espere said.
There are ways to improve the park that don’t take money. Espere said one possibility would be to use people on probation from the court system as occasional groundskeepers at the park.
It’s important to get people invested in the park, Chase said, to take action to make the most out of the public space.
The group also has a Facebook page with other information about events and activities.