City Council Work Session

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Meeting Date: 09/13/2022  
From: Martin Ince, Multi-Modal Planner
Department: Engineering and Capital Improvements  

2004 Neighborhood Open Space and Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS) Land Acquisition Bond Priorities
Council information and discussion regarding acquisition of open space and FUTS corridors with funds from the 2004 Neighborhood Open Space and FUTS Land Acquisition Bond.
This item is for Council review and discussion of an updated acquisition plan using remaining funds from the 2004 Neighborhood Open Space and FUTS Land Acquisition bond. Following this work session, staff has scheduled review of a draft ordinance on the regular Council meetings of September 20 and October 4 to authorize acquisition per the updated plan.
The Neighborhood Open Space and FUTS Land Acquisition bond was approved by Flagstaff voters in 2004 as Proposition 302. The bond provides a total of $7.6 million for acquisition of neighborhood open space and FUTS corridors.
Since the bond was approved, proceeds have been used to acquire easements and parcels for a number of FUTS trails, including portions of the Arizona Trail, Fourth Street Trail, Karen Cooper Trail, Sheep Crossing Trail, and Switzer Canyon Trail, among others. Bond funds have also been used, in combination with other sources, to acquire several significant open space parcels, including the Picture Canyon Preserve and Observatory Mesa Natural Area.
Staff has been working to update the acquisition plan for the remainder of the bond funds, which is slightly more than $2 million. The updated acquisition plan includes:
  • Easements and parcels for FUTS trails that are shown on the FUTS master plan and identified as first-priority segments. The acquisition plan generally covers FUTS trails that are anticipated over the next 20 years.
  • Property rights for other trails and facilities that support the FUTS, regional recreational trails, and open space, such as singletrack connecting trails, trailheads, and forest access points. These facilities are included in the draft Active Transportation Master Plan.
  • Larger open space tracts identified and prioritized by the Open Spaces Commission.
The last category includes six tracts that were identified as open space opportunities, and subsequently reviewed and ranked by the Open Spaces Commission. All of these parcels would help implement the Commission’s strategy for a comprehensive and connected open space system. Of the six parcels, Hoffman Tank was ranked as the top priority for acquisition by the Commission. This area has several open space qualities, including connecting the Bow and Arrow and Rio de Flag greenways with the National Forest, allowing FUTS connectivity, providing a buffer for the Arizona National Scenic Trail, and maintaining an important wildlife corridor.
Staff has worked with the City’s real estate manager to develop planning-level cost estimates for acquisitions on the list. The cost estimates are not based upon appraisals, and therefore are not a determination of fair market value or the amount the City will offer for purchase of the listed property interests. The estimated cost of first-priority acquisitions exceeds the amount of funding available in the remainder of the bond; however, this provides some flexibility to move on to other parcels on the list when acquisition of the first parcels is not possible.
Council authority is required for acquisition of land, easements, or other property rights. Previously, authority for acquisition with bond proceeds was granted via Ordinance 2009-41: An Ordinance of the Mayor and Council of the City of Flagstaff Authorizing the acquisition of neighborhood open space and those urban trail easements necessary for the extension of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System. This work session is intended for Council review and discussion of the updated acquisition plan. A draft ordinance to replace Ordnance 2009-41 and authorize acquisitions per the updated plan has been scheduled for the September 20 and October 4 regular Council meetings.
The Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS) is a city-wide network of non-motorized, shared-use pathways that are used by bicyclists, walkers, hikers, runners, and other users for both recreation and transportation. FUTS trails vary from trails that are located along busy streets to traversing canyons, riparian areas, meadows, and forests – all within the urban area of Flagstaff. The system connects neighborhoods, shopping, places of employment, schools, parks, open space, and the surrounding National Forest, and allows users to combine transportation and recreation.
The Flagstaff Open Space System is a city-wide dispersed grouping of natural areas preserved by the City for the purpose of ensuring the quality of life will continue for generations to come. Qualities of the open space system include undeveloped or minimally developed lands designated to protect natural resources that serve as a buffer from development, add to Flagstaff’s character and attraction, protect biodiversity, improve environmental quality, protect historic and cultural resources, provide for non-motorized transportation, enhance education, and provide opportunities for recreation. The open space system’s goal is to provide a connected network of natural areas dispersed throughout the city to provide all Flagstaff residents with a 10-minute walking access time.

Community Involvement:
Citizen involvement has been integral from the initiation of the concept of open space and an urban trail system, and the public has been involved in various committees throughout the evolution of the trail system and open space acquisition. The community provides input to the Open Spaces Commission, Beautification and Public Art Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, and the Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

Acquisition summary
Acquisition parcel list
Acquisition maps
Prop 302 language


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