AP NEWS

State Park renovations stalled as new leadership takes over

February 25, 2019

A series of sweeping renovations at state parks throughout the Lake Havasu region have come to a standstill as new leadership takes over Arizona State Parks and Trails.

Director Bob Broscheid was appointed to replace former Parks Director Sue Black, following accusations that Black failed to notify tribal agencies during such renovations, potentially resulting in the destruction of ancient native artifacts throughout the Havasu region. Now State Parks officials are conducting an audit of those renovation contracts – including those at Lake Havasu State Park, Havasu Riviera State Park and Cattail Cove State Park – to see where they stand.

According to State Parks Chief Public Information Officer Michelle Thompson, project evaluations are taking place statewide before the agency determines its next steps at completing renovations.

“In an effort to ensure fiscal and project compliance, Arizona State Parks and Trails is reviewing all statewide capital development projects to ensure that all agreements, state and federal compliance, budgets and expenditures and proper internal procedures have been adequately followed and secured,” Thompson said.

“Once we are sure these projects are within compliance, we will reengage and move them forward as quickly as possible,” Thompson said.

An updated status of more than 20 renovation or parks construction projects was delivered to Arizona’s Joint Committee on Capital Review in December, and State Parks officials will submit further updates in June.

Havasu Riviera State Park remains under construction, as a collaborative effort between Arizona State Parks and Trails, Lake Havasu City staff and Havasu Riviera, LLC. The project will comprise 550 acres, and is estimated to be completed over the next 10 years. It will include a six-lane boat launch ramp, a 250-acre master planned community, a 300-room hotel, a 200-slip marina, a waterfront restaurant and day-use areas. According to Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy, the area’s development will have a $1 billion economic impact in the Havasu region, and will be the first new Arizona state park in more than two decades.

According to Arizona Parks and Trails’ website, the agency’s portion of the Havasu Riviera project has stalled at about 30 percent completion as state parks officials audit park renovations statewide. The city’s contribution to the project, including the construction of Havasu Riviera Parkway and infrastructure for the new road into the Havasu Riviera is expected to be completed this April, according to City Manager Jess Knudson.

At Lake Havasu State Park, new cabin facilities were expected to be complete in May 2018. Those facilities are listed as 90 percent complete as of Wednesday. New restroom and shower facilities, as well as roadwork at Lake Havasu State Park were listed as 50 percent complete, according to the agency’s website. Those renovations are expected to accommodate the park’s 500,000 annual visitors within the next several years.

At Cattail Cove State Park, an estimated $6.4 million in renovations at the former Sandpoint Marina & RV Park have barely begun as of State Parks’ last update. State Parks officials had high hopes for the park in 2016, when they announced the facility’s first major renovation in 40 years. Cattail Cove’s renovations are expected to include new campground roads, RV electrical and water facilities, new restrooms and showers, a marina, docks and boat launch, a restaurant, concession building and cabins facilities. As of Wednesday, those facilities were about 10 percent complete.

Renovations had also been planned, but not yet begun at Buckskin Mountain State Park. A master plan for the park’s development, including possible new facilities and recreational resources, was 15 percent complete as of the agency’s last update.