Florence Town Council updated on design of $6.3M Poston Butte Preserve

Vision of community center taking hold

By Richard Dyer
Twitter: @RHDyer
Posted 9/25/20

Air-conditioned restrooms are not planned at the Poston Butte Preserve in Florence but can be added, a contractor with the town said recently.

Elements of the project’s design at a 60% level …

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Florence Town Council updated on design of $6.3M Poston Butte Preserve

Vision of community center taking hold


Air-conditioned restrooms are not planned at the Poston Butte Preserve in Florence but can be added, a contractor with the town said recently.

Elements of the project’s design at a 60% level were explained at the Sept. 8 meeting of the Florence Town Council, with no action taken.

On Dec. 16, the town entered into a $153,335 design services agreement with J2 Engineering and Environmental Design LLC for the Poston Butte Preserve Project, according to that meeting’s minutes.

Poston Butte is a hill along Hunt Highway in Florence near the eastern end of the Santan Mountains. The design and construction costs are estimated at $6.3 million for the preserve, with no set timeline for construction.

Fencing first

The town has budgeted funds for next fiscal year to pay for 3.7 miles of fencing around the site, Hezekiah Allen, the town’s director of community services, said to the council.

“Right now we have some capital in there for this project. It would mostly be consumed by the fencing of the 3.7 miles but would keep us moving forward and keep getting things done for this project. So that’s probably the next step,” he said.

The property line is to be fenced to keep unwanted vehicles from the area, with access points for pedestrians and equestrians to enter through gates. New trails will be added and some existing trails will remain, with other “wildcat trails” removed and re-vegetated, Aaron Allan of J2 said to the Town Council.

“So you will have a series of loops --- walking paths --- that people can take around ... at different intervals,” he said.

Multi-use trails will be for mountain bikers, pedestrians and equestrians, he said.

“It’s a beautiful site out there. If you haven’t been out there, I encourage you definitely go and visit it,” Mr. Allan said.

Classroom, restrooms planned

Entrance to the butte is from the west, with a roadway to a bus parking lot, and more roadway to restrooms, a classroom and vehicle parking, according to a map shown to the council.

“We have a long entry road that does take you all the way to ... this is where the restroom and classroom building is located, the bus parking area, and this is the automobile parking area,” Mr. Allan of J2 said, showing a map of the proposed park at the meeting held on Zoom and YouTube.

The classroom building is air-conditioned. The restroom has a men’s side and a women’s side, and is designed as an open-air structure with woven wire mesh to get natural ventilation, he said.

Councilmember Kristen Larsen said family restrooms should be added.

“We are a family-oriented community, and I wanted to see an opportunity there where they would have like a family changing or see how much that would cost or if we could work that into the dynamic as well. Just a place where families could come and like change their young children or have access together,” she said.

Ms. Larsen asked if there were doors on the restrooms.

“Because in the design it doesn’t look like there are,” she said.

The restroom stalls have doors on them in the current design, Mr. Allan said.

Councilmember Karen Wall asked if solar could be used for power and if picnic ramadas or areas would be out along the trails.

“The solar: originally it was discussed when we first started programming the project that the town at that time did not want to entertain doing solar, but there’s no reason why we couldn’t in the next phase of design have discussions about solar and how that would work or could potentially feed back into the grid or battery-storage system — all those things could be explored,” Mr. Allan said.

“Picnic ramadas along the trails and pathways was never discussed as part of that programming initially, but there’s nothing to say that couldn’t be a part of the programming,” he said.

Councilmember Wall also asked about the open-air concept planned for the restrooms with metal mesh near the roof line.

“That really concerns me in terms of the wind and the dust and the debris that we get throughout the area in terms of additional maintenance that might be required for that facility. I know we’ll have to have some kind of staffing for maintenance, but that type of open-air facility is a concern,” she said.

“Again, that could be something that could be looked at. At the time that was the direction that we were kind of given --- to go that way. The majority of the trail heads, the restrooms in like the city of Phoenix preserves are all open-air facilities, a lot of Mesa, just other municipalities --- that’s the direction that they choose to go,” Mr. Allan said. “But, again, we could definitely take a look at, if we are going to have power to the site, it’s just a matter of changing the building enough to be able to close it in and air-condition it and have the mechanical system there to utilize that.”

Vice Mayor John Anderson asked if there would be nighttime security cameras at the site.

At this time the site does not have a security system, Mr. Allan of J2 said.

“But again, if power is being brought into the site, most of those communications facilities can bring in a joint trench to have communication facilities there. There also could be wireless network cameras and things like that. We would have to have some discussions with IT on what systems the town uses and how to implement that, but it could definitely be implemented if that’s the desire of the town for security cameras,” he said.

“Well, if we’re going to have a $6 million facility out there, I think we need to have some kind of security on it,” Vice Mayor Anderson said.

Mayor Tara Walter asked if there were to be TV displays, computers, phones or a network in the classroom.

“And that ties right in with your Wi-Fi as well as the security,” she said, asking several staff members to meet with J2 to discuss it.

“Getting the police chief involved also because we have several areas now that we are putting cameras downtown, so it could all be part of the same system,” Vice Mayor Anderson said.