Working in local government calls us first to serve our own community, but the work we do does not stop at our political boundaries. Our impact regularly extends regionally, nationally, and even sometimes globally. Exceptional city and county leadership has the power to change the world not only by example, but also through the dissemination of creative ideas and partnerships.
A project underway in Goodyear, Arizona exemplifies this potential.
First envisioned in 2014, the Goodyear Community Health Park is being developed through a unique public-private partnership to help transform the way Goodyear thinks about and addresses public health.
When complete, the vision and work of the partnership will transform a 130-acre eyesore of underutilized flood retention basins at the gateway of our community into a regional asset by providing public open space, expanding wellness opportunities, and celebrating health and fitness as a way of life in the west valley of the Phoenix metropolitan area.
This partnership, among the city, a local consultant John D. Kuhn, Abrazo West Campus hospital, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Adelante Healthcare, and others, has been developing this vision for the Goodyear Community Health Park for two years.
We have also called on the Arizona State University’s graduate research on public-private partnership governance to make sure our fledgling organization is sustainable.
In May 2016, the partnership celebrated a major milestone when, through an innovative intergovernmental agreement, the city bought from Maricopa County 129.2 acres of basin property next to Interstate 10 for the nominal cost of $233 (that’s not a typo!) and some closing costs.
This deal required the partnership to establish and communicate a compelling vision to Maricopa County officials.
Just months later, in October 2016, the Goodyear Community Health Park was named one of nine winners of the GE HealthyCities Leadership Challenge recognizing our efforts to elevate conversations around health in our community and to include the voice of the private sector. This approach to public health recognizes the way a variety of intersecting factors, called the social determinants of health, contribute to the health of our community.
The Initial Vision
While still in the process of envisioning and raising funds, so far the partnership has invested just over $100,000 and received the $25,000 from the GE challenge. The partnership envisions these amenities in the final project:
- Multi-Use and wellness trail that provides connectivity to two major regional trail systems.
- Corporate wellness village with a facility for team building retreats.
- Action sports village with zip lines, sports fields, and climbing areas.
- Cancer Treatment Centers of America® garden and education center with raised garden beds and a cooking demonstration area.
- Desert wellness garden with meditation/reflection space and xeriscape demonstration.
- Abrazo West Campus Active Living and Community Wellness Center.
- Family activity village with play space, picnic are, and health education programming.
- Performance village with an amphitheater.
While there are many social determinants of health, five key elements are: economic stability; education; social and community context; access to health care; and the built environment. These are highly interdependent components that cannot thrive in a vacuum. Communities must consider efforts to improve each to have a sustainable overall impact.
By coming to the table as a partner in the park effort, Goodyear seeks to leverage the existing expertise and creativity in our community while helping to convene conversations and facilitate partnerships that accomplish more together than each could achieve separately.
As Goodyear tells its story, we hope to inspire other communities to forge innovative partnerships to tackle complex challenges. We push the boundaries of what a municipality is capable of through openness and collaboration. Global change truly does happen locally, one community at a time.
Pam Weir has been the assistant to the city manager in Goodyear, Arizona, since April 2016. Prior to this, she served as the Management Analyst and Budget Officer in Sierra Vista, Arizona for two years.
Weir’s previous municipal government experience includes service as the Management Assistant in Fort Collins, Colorado where she helped write the organization’s first enterprise-wide strategic plan. She also served on a temporary assignment with the town of Estes Park, Colorado in 2013, assisting the Town in disaster recovery efforts from the autumn floods. Prior to her time in Colorado, she was the Management Intern for Avondale, Arizona.
Weir holds a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Management from Arizona State University, where she was also named a Marvin Andrews Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Government from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Arizona City/County Management Association (ACMA), and Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL). Weir also serves as the Chair for the Alliance for Innovation’s NextERA Advisory Group, representing the next generation of local government managers to promote innovation and collaboration in the profession.
Having grown up in the Grand Canyon State, Weir is passionate about helping to shape the long-term future of Arizona communities, both through her local government service and other volunteer activities.