Tucson Parks and Recreation
Thursday, December 12, 2019,
The Arizona Senior Academy Building
A founding principle of Academy Village was living in harmony with the native plants and other wildlife of our Sonoran Desert. Nevertheless, we are a community that wants to show a groomed appearance in our public spaces. We cultivate our cacti and desert trees and shrubs, along with wildflowers in season, but we do have problems with “weeds” (in short, plants we don’t like in our yards) and invasive species. Virtually all landscape maintenance companies, including our own, use glyphosate-based herbicides, a proven danger to people and animals, for weed control. This past summer, the HOA Board mandated a halt on maintenance-company use of glyphosate on the Common Areas around the Vivaldi Townhouses, while continuing to allow their use on Community Center and Villas Common Areas.
How can we economically and effectively get beyond glyphosate? Mr. Brent Dennis, Director of Tucson Parks and Recreation since April 2018, is implementing an “Organic First” program, wherein cultivated public properties are weaned off harmful chemicals, using more sustainable and safe methods of controlling invasives while incorporating more native plants into the landscape. He will explain how this process can be employed on a large scale, while minimizing the heavy human imprint.
In November 2018, City of Tucson voters approved an improvement budget of $225 million to be used for enhancements to many of its 128 parks. Mr. Dennis now directs a annual budget of $38 million and oversees 400 employees who care for dog parks, skate parks, birding parks, Special Places, boating and fishing, swimming pools, and community gardens, as well as neighborhood parks. These parks will be the testing ground for “Organic First.” Prior to coming to Tucson, Mr. Dennis worked in Columbus, OH, and San Francisco, and most recently was Director of Community Services in Anaheim, CA.
Written by Abigail Hagler, Academy Village Volunteer