The Back Story of Feliz Paseos Park. . .

Laural Park: "Here is exactly how I started my journey toward Feliz Paseos. I was walking my dog Frisker along the original trails one day appreciating the beauty. I was thinking how lucky I was and thought, wouldn't it be great if people with disabilities could also enjoy it as well. The signs of developers wanting to develop the whole area were already posted and I decided my idea was a better plan.

"I went home, typed up a two page plan, and took it to Raúl Grijalva's office the next day. He told me he liked the idea but it would never pass. He did agree to present it to the Board of Supervisors though. Several weeks later I attended the meeting, spoke, and asked a group of people who used wheel chairs, and others to speak as well. The vote was unanimous in favor of exploring a park for people of all abilities." (Laural Park, personal communication, 2018 | West Side land OK'd as park for disabled, Tucson Citizen, September 16, 1998)

In 1999, The Trust for Public Land made the interim purchase of 57 acres of Rancho de las Lomas. (Keynote speech by Will Rogers, President, Trust for Public Land, National Trails Symposium, November, 1998, Tucson, AZ)

The 2000 Groundbreaking Ceremony came after the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted to buy the land and fund development of Feliz Paseos (Happy Trails) Park. The $730,000 was part of the 1997 and the later 2004 voter-approved bond issues. The park's facilities and trails were estimated to cost $350,000.

A team of trained volunteers, including Laural Park, Bob Mora, Robie Pardee, and Kathy Nabours, helped design and lay out the trail system. Laural organized volunteer high school crews to help clean rubble from years of wildcat parties. One teen said he would never break a bottle in the desert again. A county crew filled in an early well and large cistern used to supply the ranch. (A park focuses on universal accessibility, Feliz Paseos Park: a model for the nation?)

Feliz Paseos Universal Park was dedicated on July 15, 2006.
Credits from the dedication program:

  • Citizen's Advisory Committee: Bob Mora and Laural Park co-chaired the committee along with the help of Robbie Pardee, Superintendent of Natural Resources with the support of Congressman Raúl Grijalva, funding from the Arizona Game and Fish Department Heritage Fund, Lottery Dollars Working for Wildlife, and the public approved Pima County 2004 Bonds.
  • Pima County Board of Supervisors: Richard Elías - Chair, District 5, Ann Day - District 1, Rámon Valadez - District 2, Sharon Bronson - District 3, Raymond Carroll - District 4
  • Chuck Huckelberry - Pima County Administrator, John Bernal - Deputy Pima County Administrator for Public Works, Nanette Jenkins - Assistant Deputy Pima County Administrator, Rafael Payan - Director, Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation, Kerry Baldwin - Superintendent of natural Resources, Robie Pardee - Project Manager
  • Project Team: MMLA Psomas, Erickson Leader Architects, Sage Landscape Architecture & Environmental, Vision Landscape Architecture, R. A. Alcala Electrical Engineers, Meridian Engineering Company, Contractor
  • Material Donations: Rainbird, Inc., Mountain States Nursery, Civano Nursery
  • Public Art: Joy Mehulka, Las Artes, Mark Rossi
  • The 2000 Project Committee included: Roger Allen, Steve Anderson, Jim Barry, Elezabeth Cameron, Debi Davis, Pat Denniston, Stuart Draper, Doris Evans, Raúl Grijalva, George Grove, Skip Heyne, Kelly Huddleston, Diane Kalal, Eddie Kirschenbaum, Kent Kloepping, Ken Laux, Tom McGovern, Glenn Miller, Chris Molina, Bob Mora, Robie Pardee, Laural Park, Charlie Rogge, Mark Rossi, Tod Santee, Eileen Siffermann, Mary Uhlir, and Keith Whitehead.

ONE person, with the help of many others, can make a difference!

Red spotted toads in neighborhood pool, Gates Pass area, Tucson Mtns, AZ. The male's call is high-pitched, rather like a cricket. This is the only local toad to lay her eggs singly. Both red spotted and spadefoot toads breed in our summer rainy season. Photo courtesy of Roger Carpenter.

Couch's spadefoot toads mate in the Feliz Paseos Park pond, Tucson Mountains. Their distinctive, bleating calls punctuate the night during the summer rainy season. Spadefoots can become toadlets within 10 days of egg laying, a great adaptation for breeding in temporary ponds. Photo courtesy of Carolyn Leigh.

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