(Opinion Column) Promises Made, Promises Kept

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Promises made. Promises kept. In the early 1970’s and into the 1980’s and even 1990’s, Tempe was acquiring neighborhood parks at a rapid rate as residential development boomed. Preliminary development of the new neighborhood parks was completed, often by the maintenance crews under the supervision of I.O. Rasmussen and Ray Ginn. Ball field lighting was overseen by Duane Dawson, often with his own involvement. The idea, then was to get the parks useable. The plan was to come back when funds were available and new acquisitions had slowed or stopped At the same time, Kiwanis Parks, the Ken McDonald Golf Course, Rolling Hills expansion and renovation of of Diablo Stadium required resources and maintenance personal diverted to those projects. At no time, did the staff, Mayor and City Councils abandoned the idea of going back to add and improve the parks. Along came the Rio Salado and the downturn in the economy..  But the commitment was never forgotten. Tempe citizens never turned down bond election. Neighborhood involvement continued strong. Now, after decades of waiting, the City of Tempe is fulfilling those promises. My personal thanks to those who never forgot the promises. Thanks to the many administrations, Mayors and City Council members for continuing the dream.  As Walt Disney once said, “if you can dream it, you can do it”. 

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     Ron Pies Ron Pies, retired from the City of Tempe after thirty years October 12, 1998. He was hired as the Director of Parks and Recreation in 1969 before being promoted to the Director of Community Services in 1984. Ron is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he is a Gold Devil Life Member of the ASU Alumni Association. He also attended the University of New Mexico. He was a school record holder in two events on the University of New Mexico track team. He was also a member of his state championship high school track team. He was Vice Chair of the Maricopa County Stadium District Advisory Committee and Past President of the Cactus League Baseball Association. He was appointed to Chair the Governor's Baseball Commission in Arizona. He was also appointed by five Arizona Governors to the Baseball Commission (re-appointed in 2005 by Governor Napolitano), the Arizona State Parks Board, where he was instrumental in the creation and passage of the Arizona Heritage Act and the Outdoor Recreation Coordinating Commission. He was elected to a term on the Kyrene Elementary School Board in Tempe and served one year as its President. Ron was the marketing chair for the Tempe Tourism Council of the Chamber of Commerce and was a founder of the Tempe Convention and Tourism Bureau. He was also a founding member of the Tempe YMCA Board. He also served as the treasurer for the Tempe Boys and Girls Club. He has been awarded the Fellow Award and the Distinguished Life Member awards by the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association, the Outstanding Professional Award from the Pacific Southwest Regional Council of the National Recreation and Parks Association and the Management Award for Superior Service from the American Society for Public Administration. Ron has also been recognized as the Outstanding Young Man by the Scottsdale Jaycees .In 1996 he was inducted into the Arizona State University College of Public Programs Hall of Fame and the Tempe Elementary School District Hall of Fame. His department was awarded the National Gold Medal in 1975 and again in 1995 for Excellence in Parks and Recreation Management. On January 21, 2000. Ron was recognized by the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association as one of nine Leisure Legends in recognition of that organization's first fifty years. On September 29, 2001, He was also honored by the City of Tempe with the dedication of the Ronald E. Pies Gymnasium at the new Westside Community Center. In 2016 the American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administration selected Ron as an AAPRA Legend.He is a graduate of the Disney Institute's Business and Management Programs. He recently celebrated his 52nd wedding anniversary with his wife Bernita. They have two grown children. Their daughter, Cara (Paul) Tracy, is Global Client Advisor at Influence at Work and son, Dave (Jane) is the Recreation Manager for the City of Kennesaw, Georgia.Ron served in the Air National Guard.

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