Tucson's Broadmoor Broadway Shines as Beacon for Neighborhood Sustainability

Broadmoor Broadway is more than just a conveniently located neighborhood near Central and Southeast Tucson. The neighborhood shines as an homage to the city’s historical richness with architectural styles such as Adobe, Modern Ranch, and bungalow. But the community has also redefined how a neighborhood can be transformed into a “colorful community gathering place” through sustainable green infrastructure and livable streets, according to Sustainable Living Tucson. 

The neighborhood developed a “Broadmoor Broadway Village Urban Forestry Manual,” which placed importance on the “greening” of inner city streets for the purposes of improving air quality, preventing erosion, and maintaining a better balance with nature. The highlight of that plan is the “Treat Walkway,” a six-block easement allowing residents to walk from one end of the neighborhood to the other without having to worry about vehicles. 

Malvern Plaza photo courtesy of Broadmoor-Broadway Village Neighborhood

As the movement spread, residents began planting native trees throughout Arroyo Chico, even watering them by hand at first, until they matured and were able to survive unmanned. By 2006, the neighborhood won a Pro Neighborhoods grant to build the first water-harvesting pocket park in the City of Tucson called Malvern Plaza. 

Incorporating tiled picnic tables and a unique Little Free Library, Malvern Plaza has become a meeting place for neighborhood events to include swap meets, citrus giveaways, plant and seed exchanges, kiddie play dates, outdoor movies, and neighborhood potlucks. To ensure the plaza remains as-is, it even has its own committee responsible for facilitating neighborhood events, monitoring infrastructure, and collaborating with the Urban Forestry and Wildlife Committee. 

Photo courtesy of Tucson Arts Brigade

One example of how the community rallies to support their residents can be seen in the partnership with the Tucson Arts Brigade, which facilities participatory community arts with an emphasis on sustainable design. Upon seeing one of the walls along the Arroyo Chico had been vandalized with graffiti, they used this as an opportunity to paint two murals within hours. Using clay pieces hand-painted by local residents, they also created a tile mural on the two lower walls that were part of the Treat Walkway sidewalk installation. 

A recent addition to the thriving neighborhood was the opening of a public poetry mailbox, per Arizona Daily Star. Opened last spring in time for National Poetry Month, the whimsical mailbox contains poems for all ages (and features a flag indicating when new poems need to be added). The idea is to take or leave a poem; sit nearby in a shady spot to reflect on what you’ve read, or take it to read in the privacy of your own home. The program has been a hit, and the founders hope their efforts will expand to other neighborhoods as well. 

The neighborhood is currently seeking historic designation, a process that began back in 2009 with documentation suggesting between 60 and 70 percent of the homes would be considered historic properties. In the meantime, this neighborhood remains one of Tucson’s most-committed to the prospect of remaining a sustainable and flourishing place to live.

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