Thursday, March 5, 2009


Arizona Republic, The (Phoenix, AZ) - Friday, September 21, 2007
Author: RICHARD KELLEHER , The Republic

Almost a decade ago, former Paradise Valley Unified School District administrator Walter "Skip" Brown confided that some day, Reach 11 would be "Phoenix's Central Park."

The affable Brown, who was responsible for building new schools and planning their location for the district, was a visionary that Phoenix will miss since his retirement. His comments were based upon solid research. He was postulating that as Phoenix grows, northeast Phoenix would be a core area for the metropolis, making the area on Tatum Road, just south of Loop 101, the "heart" of the city.

Brown's comments about the growth of northeast Phoenix came before construction of Desert Ridge shopping center and office buildings, long before discussion on CityNorth. His prognostication seems uncannily accurate.

Ron Harmon, Phoenix Parks and Recreation facilities supervisor, explains that Reach 11 is a flood detention basin designed to capture floodwaters so they do not impact the Central Arizona Project canal.

"A reach is part of the Bureau of Reclamation's way of protecting an area," Harmon said. "Think of a reach being a section or division. Reach is just a BOR term."

Harmon explained that Reach 11 stretches from Cave Creek Road, into Scottsdale past Scottsdale Road, roughly along the same corridor as Loop 101. He said Phoenix entered into an agreement with the BOR and Central Arizona Project to manage the land within the city's jurisdiction in 1987. This was accomplished under the watch of former City Manager Marvin Andrews, who may prove to be one of Arizona's greatest pioneers in designing Phoenix's growth.

As a reporter for a community newspaper, I got to watch Reach 11 develop. First there was a stable, then an arena for horses. Now there are soccer fields -- little surprise, knowing that Councilwoman Peggy Neely, who oversees this section of Phoenix, is one of the largest youth soccer proponents throughout the world.

Ironically, having arrived in Arizona in its 47th year of statehood, it was around six years ago, or the state's 90th year of statehood, while the city was developing Reach 11, that I encountered my first rattlesnake attack -- in Reach 11. My son and I were walking along the canal when a coiled snake began to strike. Not advising this technique for anyone, we ran and fortunately were able to outrun the snake.

Harmon says this growth continues this year. The city opens four new baseball fields this fall.

Two of the fields are designated specifically for "youth with disabilities," according to a press release. Harmon said they are rubberized. They are smaller than regulation Little League fields.

The other two fields will be for Little League events, including tournaments. Who knows, maybe some day the Little League world championships may be played in Reach 11 on those 120-degree days rather than Williamsport, Pa.

The fields, built in cooperation with the Arizona Diamondbacks, will be named Brandon Webb Field, Chad Tracy Field, Rich Dozer Field and Partners Field.

Harmon said there would be little fear of rattlesnake attacks at the new ballfields. He said snakes tend to avoid humans. He did admit, however, that Reach 11 is still a wilderness or natural area and it belonged to rattlesnakes before development, so there is a chance of visitors at the complex running into a snake or two.

If you have not visited Reach 11, the best way to get there is on Tatum, about three-quarters of a mile south of Loop 101. The recreation area is on the west side of Tatum. Visit so that you'll be able to say: "I was first here when this was in the northeast part of Phoenix's metro area, not the center of it, as it is now."