Question by AJ A: When is wave yard in mesa supposed to start building??
I live right bye tempe and mesa. and if you drive on the 101 and that big piece of land right next to Tempe Market Place and Riverview it is there.
Answer by Mark Powers
Mesa’s plans to sell park property to the developers of the Waveyard resort hit a snag this week, when city officials disclosed that an ancient system of irrigation canals built by the Hohokams likely lies beneath Riverview Park.
View interactive map of Waveyard project
The city can’t sell 25 acres of park land at the Riverview softball fields until the area has been surveyed for artifacts and excavated, a process overseen by state and federal regulators that will likely take months.
The $ 250 million Waveyard resort will be on the ballot in November. If voters approve a $ 20 million incentives package, the city plans to sell 121 acres of property it owns at Riverview, including the softball fields. It would be replaced by a water park resort and hotel, commercial, residential and office space.
Scot Rigby, with the city manager’s office, said the “drop-dead date” to sell the property is still at least a year away.
The excavation at Riverview Park would not derail plans to sell the property to Waveyard, but a survey of historical artifacts must be completed first, he said. It could cause delays in transferring the property to a new owner.
“We don’t want to move a property until we get a final sign off,” he said. “We have to answer the questions about the conversion process.”
The city has been in contact with state and federal agencies for nearly a year to get permission to sell the 25-acre softball fields near Riverview Park.
Federal money helped build the park, which means Mesa must replace parkland it plans to convert to private use.
Mesa parks officials propose building a desert park with in- terpretive trails on property it already owns near McKellips and Ellsworth roads to satisfy the federal requirements.
Pat Dutrack, a grants coordinator for Arizona State Parks, said the conversion process for a property this large is unusual. However, after Mesa files a plan for surveying Riverview Park and conducts a dig, the city should be free to sell the property after approval from the federal government.
“This is a very time-consuming process,” she said.
Jerry Howard, curator of the Mesa Museum of Natural History, was contacted by the State Historic Preservation Office about the significance of Riverview Park, which helped alert the agency to the prehistoric canals that might lie beneath.
“They knew I worked right there, so they called me,” he said.
Howard led a massive excavation two years ago prior to construction of the Riverview retail complex, just east of the city’s park property.
The team unearthed a system of canals built by the Hohokams that were designed to divert water from the Salt River and irrigate fields as far as away as Sun Lakes.
From A.D. 100 to A.D. 1450, the Hohokams developed sophisticated irrigation canals to farm the Valley. One of the largest canals found on the property measured 45 feet wide and 15 feet deep, Howard said.
Studying the size of the canals, the diversion structures built to direct the flow of water and pit houses found at Riverview helps refine knowledge of the Hohokams, who lived in southern and central Arizona and built some of the largest irrigation systems in the ancient world.
“Looking at Riverview — we basically had enough information to talk about how the irrigation system evolved through time,” Howard said. “It was a wonderful way to monitor what was going on with (the) Hohokams.”
An excavation at the Waveyard site would likely not interrupt play at the city’s softball complex during the next several months, Howard said. Some of the canals uncovered east of the park will give the team clues as to where they can start digging to find the extensions of the channels.
The city has agreed to develop a plan to record the historic artifacts. It has yet to select a person to lead the excavation, although Howard could be a natural fit.
“You bet I’d do it,” he said. “Fun, fun — particularly if it’s not in the summer.”
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