New Tucson park won't have trees

With the widening of 6th street right around the corner, talk about how to connect neighborhoods has quietly begun,  neighborhoods will be split in two by the new Aviation Corridor along 6th Street.

The Tucson Links, as it's now called will go under the railroad tracks at 9th Avenue, creating a long tunnel with space on top.

That space will likely become Tucson's first deck park, a park on top of the expressway.

The area above ground, about a quarter acre, will be developed as a way to link three areas which will be divided by the new roadway.

Dunbar Spring, El Presdio and the downtown area will be cut off from one another and that has been a concern for the neighborhoods.

So a deck park could alleviate the concerns and be a place were al three neighborhoods could gather.

"We're committed to that," says Tom Fisher, a project manager for the city transportation department. "Now it's just a matter of what the park will be used for."

During a Deck Park subcommittee meeting, a wide variety of suggestions were made.

It could be a park where movies are shown, could have a dog park, a community gathering place, a festival site, or a neighborhood park.

It could be a combination of many ideas.

"They said a successful park is a place where at least 10 things could happen,"says Laura Mielcarak, a landscape architect who is helping design the park.

The price tag isn't known yet  because it's still early in the process.

"But cost will be a factor," Mielcarak says in determining what the area looks like.

Fisher says its just part of the overall budget of $78 million.

He says there are still structures to be torn down along the route, sewage lines to be moved and other expenses which must be met as well.

The one thing the new deck park won't have is trees.

Trees can cause serious structural damage with root systems and irrigation which can sometimes be unpredictable.

Most of the mock ups and early drawings show trees but they will be excised.

So the option is how to provide shade without the trees.

A group of about a dozen committee members and transportation officials huddled over a table and maps, trying to determine how to configure the park so that overhangs and coverings are used.

"We don't want it to be a hot, concrete slab where no one wants to go," was the comment of one person who attended the meeting.