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"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."
Top photo of Tempe Town Lake by Charlie Leight/ASU Now