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Surprise seeks resident input on future of RV park in OTS

Posted 5/3/17

By Richard Smith

Independent Newsmedia

While it takes time to decide what Donorma RV Park will be in the long term, the City of Surprise is pleased with where its newest property is.

During …

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Surprise seeks resident input on future of RV park in OTS

By Richard Smith
Independent Newsmedia

While it takes time to decide what Donorma RV Park will be in the long term, the City of Surprise is pleased with where its newest property is.

During its Feb. 21 meeting the City Council approved acquisition of the 5.84-acre property with a street address of 15627 N. Nash St. by reallocating $1.35 million in grant funding to general capital projects for the purchase.

The property is surrounded by city facilities that primarily serve the Original Town Site residents — including Villanueva Recreation Center, Hollyhock Pool and Library, Surprise Senior Center and Gaines Park. When the Donorma land is incorporated, the city will own all 15.4 acres on this block.

“The idea the whole time has been how can we increase services to not only the OTS but the city as a whole,” Community Development Director Eric Fitzer said.

The exterior of Donorma RV Park is pictured Thursday, April 27, 2017 in Surprise. (Jacob Stanek/Independent Newsmedia)

Mr. Fitzer said the city is reaching out to the handful of residents still living in and around the RV park, as well as check out the site itself.

The Human Services and Community Vitality is meeting with the residents in what should be a gradual changeover for the site.

“It’s under 20 (residents) and some of them are here during part of the year. Some have been pretty permanent for pretty long. We’re going to be meeting with a lot of those folks and assessing the situation. The city’s definitely in the business of running an RV park long term, so it’s kind of a strategic investment,” Mr. Fitzer said.

Donorma has been around almost as long as the city’s original neighborhood. It opened in 1963 and expanded in 1977. The owner that recently sold the property to the city purchased the park in 2013.

Resident Mike Reyes said he and the neighbors he talked to never viewed the property as an eyesore or a problem. With the mobile nature of its visitors and resident, Donorma was in the OTS but not really of it.

“I came here in 1969 and it was there,” Mike Reyes said. “To be honest with you, I didn’t pay attention to it.”

That will change in the coming years as the parcel is incorporated into Surprise’s facilities. Councilman Ken

Remley first discussed the area at his April 26 District 4 meeting and wants to solicit more resident input at the monthly meeting throughout the summer.

The surrounding area is called the Roy Villanueva Community and Recreation Complex and Mr. Remley said his priority is preserving the late mayor and councilman’s legacy. But he said parts of the area could use a facelift.

“This is a perfect location to get some redevelopment, as long as you get the resident input,” Councilman Remley said.

Mike Reyes said the idea of building a larger Hollyhock Library on part of the Donorma parcel intrigues him.

But he and his wife, Yolanda, agreed that the primary goal of redevelopment on this city block should be expanding opportunities for OTS youth.

For about a decade the city and various Valley officials discussed the possibility of building a Boys and Girls Club. A steering committee formed in 2015 but last summer opportunities to charter with the national organization or join the Phoenix Boys and Girls Club dried up and the committee disbanded.

The Surprise Youth Foundation — not affiliated with the city — formed soon after with a similar mission but has been mum on its plans. Yolanda Reyes said the city’s land acquisition could be a key to putting together a true youth center.

“Myself and a lot of people I know are interested in something coming up in to that RV park that will tend to the needs of our youth,” Yolanda Reyes said. “We hope that there’s something for kids that they don’t just come home from school, get in the house and stay,” she said.