Scottsdale’s Pride Park Unveils a New Look and Habitat for Pollinators
Scottsdale’s Pride Park is abuzz with new amenities and plants that are attracting people and pollinators alike. The pocket park, located near Hayden and McDowell roads, was revitalized thanks to a partnership with members of Scottsdale Leadership and Keep Scottsdale Beautiful.
The team invested 300 hours and nearly $30,000 in funds and in-kind donations into the Park McDowell neighborhood commons. It’s a sustainable urban oasis, volunteers say, with over 60 new plants for bees, hummingbirds and butterflies; Little Free Library with books, chalk and wildflower seeds; additional walkways; a new concrete pad—perfect for picnicking, yoga or games—and a colorful bee and butterfly-themed mural by artist Laura Thurbon. We chatted with Jim Kollenda and Alley Yerger, members of Scottsdale Leadership’s Class 36, and Keep Scottsdale Beautiful board member Heather Schlichting to find out how this partnership renewed the park.
How did this partnership and project come about?
Heather Schlichting: “One of our board members is part of Scottsdale Leadership, and she thought this would be a fantastic project for both parties. It’s a park that definitely needed some TLC.”
Jim Kollenda: “Every class year, Scottsdale Leadership does a program called Project Lead It Forward; basically, it’s community service projects. This year, we had four community service projects that we participated in. This year’s partners were Keep Scottsdale Beautiful with Pride Park; we also had Horsense, Child Crisis Arizona and Scottsdale Historical Society.”
Alley Yerger: “It was such an opportunity to connect with the community, with Keep Scottsdale Beautiful and with each other as a team. We had an incredibly hands-on opportunity.”
How did you work with neighbors to shape the park updates?
AY: “We really had a lot of civic engagement. A lot of community members came in and have a sense of ownership with the park.”
JK: “We went early one morning on the weekend and started knocking on doors. That was a unique experience for sure during COVID. The neighborhood is changing and evolving. We also heard a lot about the history and how the park actually got there.
“We asked the neighbors to come with ideas. Some people wanted a mural in the park, some wanted a big shade structure; others wanted something for kids. We quickly realized that not everything was going to work, and for a pocket park, it’s not that big of a park; it’s a small little lot.”
AY: We went back to the drawing board and made some adjustments. At that time we brought in Benjy Levinson (of landscape design firm Levinson Studio), and he took it from there and brought it to the next level.
And you received other support, too.
JK: “We were so lucky we had a ton of in kind donations from corporations in Arizona. We did two fundraisers and raised about $4,000. The backbone of everything was the in-kind donations we received and our own personal sweat and tears over the weekends.”
AY: We had Keep Scottsdale Beautiful there with us, in the arena, getting hot and sweaty and digging. We had our donors there. They represented by coming out and being part of this whole process, which to me is one of the beautiful things that Scottsdale Leadership is able to bring to a city—to tie people together, get them engaged and together working on a project and putting their hearts and souls in it. We really need that in the world right now.”
Let’s talk about the new amenities people will see.
HS: “There is a very long wall that’s on the perimeter of the park, and that wall is part of someone’s home on the other side. Scottsdale Leadership worked very hard with the homeowner to get their permission to paint a mural. They worked with a local artist, Laura Thurbon. She did an amazing job; she painted that mural in a day. It is just beautiful. That’s a complete showpiece for this park.”
JK: “It’s the first mural facing off of private land into a public park (in Scottsdale). We wanted to make sure we did it right.”
AY: “We have bee houses that we made as a group, which are really important for nesting habitats for carpenter bees. When we created the pathways, the goal was to create them in the shape of butterfly wings, so on either side of the primary flagstone walkways, we have two alternative pathways that curve around.”
JK: “We added a play pad. It gives something for the younger kids to do in that neighborhood with their parents. They have a place to gather and play. There’s enough space for a neighborhood gathering.”
HS: “Since the park completed, we have gotten a lot more interest from people who want to volunteer for future projects like this.”
AY: “We have some things we’d like to do in the future. We want to make sure we’re keeping it up as a pollinator habitat and hoping to continue this project and help it really build up that momentum to make an impact in this community long-term.”
The team hopes to continue to add plants and amenities to Pride Park. If you’re interested in donating time or resources, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and space.