Commissioners asked numerous questions about the feasibility and costs of the pole, but Glendale Chamber of Commerce Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Turney was quick to answer any and all of them.
“We understand it is a conservation park, and we are passionate about keeping it as pristine as we can, and we know those were some of the questions,” Turney said. “There will be no cost to the city and we have already had numerous groups offering to fund it, but we have put it off to make sure we do this right.”
During the Feb. 12 parks and recreation advisory commission meeting, the commission reviewed and discussed the flag pole at Thunderbird Conservation Park. The discussion included a survey of citizens that showed 85 percent of respondents were in favor of the flagpole.
At that meeting, the commission voted 6-1 against the construction of the flag pole with preservation of the park as the main reason.
“I disagree with the flagpole on top of the mountain. Again, because of the natural aspect,” Vice Chair Alicia H. Rubio of the Ocotillo District said during the Feb. 12 meeting. “I could see it in the parking lot. It is a lot easier access, and it is easier to light.”
She also said placing the pole in the parking lot would give proposed operators easier access for maintenance.
According to the parks and recreation advisory commission’s survey, with 1,087 people responding to the survey between December and January, 929 residents said they were in favor of a permanent flag pole at the peak while 159 opposed it.
Most of the responses — 72 percent — came via an online survey. The other 28 percent came from people who were asked in person while hiking at the park in mid-January.
Two American flags presently fly on temporary flag poles atop the mountain and have been replaced numerous times as a city code that protects the 1,185-acre park against encroachment forbids such placement. The city has been removing the flags when someone calls and complains.
After questions were raised, Turney returned to the parks commission to answer those questions in an attempt to get the original vote overturned.
“The flag has actually been in place for over 15 years and currently is there placed in rocks,” Turney said. “(Tony Escamillo) has been maintaining that flag every day and replacing it when it gets removed.”
Turney said the chamber military and veteran affairs committee are going through the motions to have a pole permanently placed at the location to honor veterans and the survey responders. He said American flag etiquette codes would be followed.
“The American flag has a specific code on how and how it cannot be displayed by Congress,” Turney said. “We plan to follow those codes and honor the flag the way it is supposed to be honored.”
One commissioner questioned if the commission allowed the proposal, what would keep a rogue group from asking to fly a flag on the same pole?
“If you say you don’t want a random flag up there for any specific reason, there is no code that says that anyone can put a flag anywhere and I don’t believe anyone that attempted that would have a leg to stand on,” Turney said.
Turney added that the chamber committee also has large groups of volunteers ready to install and volunteer their time to put the pole permanently atop the mountain, which the location was also questioned by commissioners. Commissioners also questioned the location.
“Why the top of the mountain and not the parking lot? Because when you get to the top of that hill and see that flag, it is heartwarming,” Turney said. “It is in the perfect location to see our great city and the patriotism that you feel, it is just perfect.”
MVAC would assume full responsibility of the placement, care and maintenance of the flagpole and flag and would be responsible for all construction and costs. Its members would also be responsible for lowering the flag to half-staff, if needed.
Citizens also addressed the commission and were eager to see the flagpole there permanently.
“I live in the district and hike that with my daughter and grandchildren,” Glendale resident Henry Shapiro said. “It is a pleasure to see that flag when you get to the top, and to take a picture with the city behind you is just amazing.”
Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve the pole and will go to council for final approval in the future.