Project to transform 45 miles of riverbed through metro Phoenix; leaders from across Valley commit, sign Statement of Intent
"Rio Reimagined," a forward-looking project to develop 45 miles of the Rio Salado, held its public launch Friday in Tempe as city, county, federal and tribal leaders gathered to review the plan that would turn the mostly dry and unused Salt River bed into a public space supporting social and economic development.
Several hundred people attended the event at the Tempe Center for the Arts, including the leaders of the six Valley cities and two Indian communities along the waterway. Among the speakers was Cindy McCain, wife of U.S. Sen. John McCain, whose interest was key in launching the project.
"This effort will take resources, energy, time and persistence, but ultimately it will enhance the environment, boost our economy and unite our people," she said, sharing a message from the senator. "All of Arizona benefits when we enhance our communities."
Rio Reimagined, which will run from Granite Reef Dam in the East Valley to the Tres Rios Wetlands in Buckeye, will be multigenerational, according to Wellington "Duke" Reiter, senior adviser to Arizona State University President Michael Crow.
Video by Ken Fagan/ASU Now (watch the full-length video here)
A number of stakeholders — including leaders from Tempe, Phoenix, Goodyear, Avondale, Buckeye, Mesa, and the Gila River and Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribes — signed a Statement of Intent at the launch of the ambitious regional project. It's a project that will take time and a lot of ideas, utilizing both university expertise and community input.
"This project to both the senator and us is not a water project," Crow said. "It's not a physical project. It's not an economic-development project. It's a project about the future. It's a project about the future that connects to the past. So it's a project about connection."
ASU President Michael Crow talks with representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the public launch of "Rio Reimagined" Friday at the Tempe Center for the Arts.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Gila River Indian Community Lt. Gov. Robert Stone says a Native American blessing to begin the event.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Cindy McCain speaks about the vision of her husband, Sen. John McCain, for the project and its possibilities.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Former U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor speaks of his history at ASU and the vision for the project.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brig. General D. Peter Helmlinger speaks Friday about the project.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
The audience of around 200 people included former Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano (center), who served during the creation and filling of Tempe Town Lake.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
Tomás Torres, EPA water division director, speaks Friday about the plan to revitalize 45 miles of a mostly dry riverbed.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now
From left: Steve Chucri (Maricopa County Board of Supervisors), David Luna (Mesa), Lorenzo Sierra (Avondale), Delbert Ray (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community), Greg Stanton (Phoenix), Mark Mitchell (Tempe), Jackie Meck (Buckeye), Georgia Lord (Goodyear), David Rousseau (Salt River Project) and Robert Stone (Gila River Indian Community) stand with the signed Statement of Intent.Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now