Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Many Agree: Its Time For An Oro Valley Community Center (Part 2)

Monday we wrote about a general agreement among Oro Valley leaders that Oro Valley should have a community center. Today, we explore the challenges to making it a reality. We think that the challenge of moving forward is that the "devil is in the details."

No Agreement On What A Community Center Should Include

There are countless examples of what a community center is. Glendale has one.  Chandler has one. Fountain Hills has one. Scottsdale has several.  In Oro Valley, there is no general agreement on what a community center is and what it should include. Some may say a community center should have a game room. Some may say it should have a multi-use gym. Some may say is should have a senior center.  Some think it should include a teen center. Some believe it can be a home for the Historical Society.  It could be the home of the Parks and Recreation Department. Maybe it could be all of these things.

But, if our leaders "dabble in the details" of what a center should and should not contain, then we may never get agreement.

Mayor Hiremath recognizes this.

"A community center may mean different things to different people," observed Mayor Hiremath, "so I don’t get too hung up on trying to define what one would look like as far as specifics are concerned. For instance, some may think it should contain educational classes for art, photography, writing, sculpting, to name only a few. Others may look for a quiet open air lobby with some sofas and a big screen TV with a coffee bar so they can relax and then there are others that may look more for recreation opportunities such as table tennis, tennis, basketball, weightlifting, etc".

In the Mayor's view: "The community can decide what they would like to see. My goal is to provide the bricks and mortar so that the above things can be made into a reality. Again, philosophically, a community center would help the Town continue on its current path to creating a “sense of place.”

No Agreement On Where It Should Be Located

Some say it should be located in Naranja Park. Others stay it should be located in Steam Pump Ranch.  Some would like to see it located in San Dorado.

No Agreement On What It Will Cost Or How To Fund It

"The major issue moving forward on a community center is revenue. Any community center will run at a significant operating deficit with high operating and maintenance costs." Council Member Burns wrote us.

As Council Member Joe Hornat agrees:

"The questions, as I see them are:
  1. What will it cost? 
  2. Where would we put it? 
  3. How would we come up with the money to build or buy it? 
  4. How would we pay for the operating and maintenance on an ongoing basis of the building and the programs that would be part of it?
The answers to those questions are necessary to make this a potential real project."

Council Member Mike Zinkin also agrees:

"Once we define the services we desire from our Center, we now have to decide how we are going to pay for it. Do we look at increasing existing taxes, do we attempt to pass a bond that will expire as soon as it is paid off, do we look at existing revenues and see if we can cut existing programs to pay for it? Do we enter into a private/public partnership?"

Will The Disagreements Of The Past Prevent A Collaborative Effort?

We hope not.  We have every expectation that it will not.

In 2011, the council worked in unity to approve and fund the Oro Valley Aquatic Center.  It was a win for every council member, past and present, and a win for our community.

As Council Member Zinkin wrote to us:  "The Mayor stated during the campaign that a Community Center was one of his highest priorities. Believe it or not, I do not disagree. I would love to work to see a Community Center and will do all I can to see it come to fruition."

What do you think?
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Heather's Corner: What is Ham Radio and How Does it Involve Oro Valley?

Amateur Radio ("Ham Radio") is a popular hobby and service in which licensed Amateur Radio operators ("hams") operate communications equipment. Whether through "Morse Code on an old brass telegraph key, voice communication on a hand-held radio or computerized messages transmitted via satellite, hams use radio to reach out to the world."

Looking for something for your kids to do that will keep them out of trouble and help build character?  Then, look no further than Ham Radio!

What is the draw to being a Ham?

The hobby allows Hams to communicate as long as they have their radio in their presence. This means from the top of the highest mountains where cell phones cease to receive signals or from the comfort of their own living room or "radio shack."

In times of emergency, Hams assist emergency communication efforts and work with public service agencies when normal means of information through typical communication devices are not working.

For example, according to Bob Stephens of the Oro Valley Amateur Radio Club:
"Our group was involved in Oro Valley's preparation for Odile.  The Oro Valley Community Emergency Response Team ("OV CERT") was led by Scott Ingram. Odile was the first official call-out for this team of community volunteers who train for handling emergency situations in their own neighborhood and to provide neighborhood support while waiting for official first responders. For Odile, the OV CERT team managed the distribution of sandbags in conjunction with Golder Ranch Fire and Oro Valley Public Works. Two teams operated with one at the Linda Vista Golder Ranch Fire District station and one at the Golder Ranch Fire District Headquarters station."
Although Amateur Radio operators get involved for many reasons, they all have in common a basic knowledge of radio technology and operating principles, and pass an examination for the FCC license to operate on radio frequencies known as the "Amateur Bands." These bands are radio frequencies reserved by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for use by ham radio operators.

Sound interesting?

Well lucky for you the Oro Valley Amateur Radio Club exists and they are looking for new members.

The club provides an opportunity to meet like-minded radio buffs while gaining opportunity to serve the public. There are monthly meetings and field days. And last but not least ,their Saturday Hams and Eggs Breakfasts allowing more opportunity for friendship and discussion. Best of all, you do not need to be licensed to attend meetings to check out what they're all about.  In fact, they will help you find a way to earn a ham radio license.

For general information about OVARC you can email info@tucsonhamradio.org or visit their website.
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Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Many Agree: Its Time For An Oro Valley Community Center (Part 1)


Oro Valley leaders have been talking about a community center for years.  Now, we think, its time to take action.

There is agreement among Oro Valley's elected officials and many residents of the town that Oro Valley needs a community center.

"It is one of my top three priorities because it will help Oro Valley create a sense of identity." Mayor Hiremath wrote us.

"The development of a community center long precedes me being Mayor. It actually originated when I was on the Board of Directors for the Greater Oro Valley Arts Council (now known as the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance)."

Indeed, the idea of a community center dates back many years. Former Council Member Barry Gillaspie reminded us:
"In regards to a Community Center, it has been in the sights and on the drawing board for many years. In 2008 when we attempted to pass the bond for the Naranja Town Park, the Community Center was a part of an overly ambitious master plan and it got lost in the ensuing debate and vote.
Gillaspie supports the Mayor's objective.  "Now may be the time, I sense that many in our Town would like a Community Center as a core focal point."

Council Member Mike Zinkin agrees that a Community Center is needed. "There is no question that Oro Valley could use a Community Center. A place where the Town can identify with. A place that can meet the needs of the majority of the Citizens."

Council member Joe Hornat agrees: "I think we need a community center here in Oro Valley, I don’t think anyone disputes that or should I say I hope not!!"

According to Council Member Brendan Burns a community center would the town ..as it will enhance a sense of community, provide activities during the hot summer months, and it will provide free programs for the disadvantaged in our society. As a community of excellence, we have not addressed our citizens’ needs."

We spoke with Council Member Bill Garner.  Bill has been and continues to be a long-time proponent of an Oro Valley Community Center.

We asked Mayor Hiremath why Oro Valley needs a community center.  He provided several reasons:
  • "As we all know, Oro Valley was developed with the concept of having 'Neighborhood Centers'. The downside of not having a universal go to place, such as a downtown, means that in theory, residents can live an isolated life to a great degree. "  
  • "We have no real physical gathering place where residents can go....A community center can help to break down the barriers of isolation and get people to interact with other people thereby creating a closer knit community."
  • "A community center can also provide residents with opportunities that may not currently exist or it is not financially feasible for them to participate in."
So, if indeed, Oro Valley's leaders think that Oro Valley needs a community center then are the challenges to make it happen?  Read our Wednesday posting for more.
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What do you think?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bits and Pieces

The Clean Up Continues

Thanks to our fine Oro Valley workers, our streets are beginning to look great. This accomplished in cleaning up after the September 9 "Storm of The Century." The Oro Valley Country Club area was particularly hard hit. Streets there are beginning to shine again!

  Citizen Committees Making Residents' Vision A Reality

Oro Valley, Ariz. (September 24, 2014) - Community members will be working hard this fall as part of the Your Voice, Our Future project. They'll be taking the community's vision and guiding principles and using them to chart a plan of action for the Town's future, also referred to as a General Plan.

During the public outreach portion of the project, September 2013 through May 2014, residents told us what kind of community they want Oro Valley to be in ten years. The results of that effort were part of Phase 1 "Let's talk" of the Your Voice, Our Future project.

Now, at the start of Phase 2 "Let's think," three, topic-specific committees are getting to work in the areas of development, environment and community. They will begin using the Council-approved vision and guiding principles as a framework to review draft goals, policies and actions that form future directions for the Town. The results of this plan will influence all aspects of the community, from parks to roads to development.

Committee members were selected through an application process and represent a broad spectrum of the community and include residents from all backgrounds. They will work together in the interests of the Town as a whole. Their mission will be to stay true to the community's collective voice that expresses what matters most.

(Source: Oro Valley Press Release)
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Recent Scam Hits An Oro Valley Business

Oro Valley, Ariz. (September 23, 2014) - The Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) would like to inform the public of a recent scam involving a local business. A caller identified himself as "Mike Belez", left a message at a local business stating the business was behind on their electric bill. If they didn't pay the money by a certain time, their electric service would be disconnected. When the business returned the call, there was an automated message that stated they reached the "electric disconnected section." Once transferred to a person, the business was told to go to a Walgreens and pay the electric bill at the Tucson Electric Power kiosk. When the business attempted this there was no kiosk located and contacted the number again and was instructed to pay using the "Green Dot" payment card.

The victimized business sent $1,000 and when they called the number again to verify the funds were received, the caller stated that they owed $1,200 more. Fortunately the business did not spend the extra $1,200 dollars and realized it was a scam.

We are asking the public to be aware of scams such as these. The following are helpful tips to avoid being victimized by these type of scams:
  • Check with management to verify they are behind on payment. 
  • Utilities use official documentation for late accounts. 
  • Call the utility company directly to verify your account status. 
  • Set up automatic payment. 
  • Do not wire or use similar means to make payments. 
  • Contact your local police department if you believe you're a victim of a scam.
 (Source: Oro Valley Police Department Press Release)
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September "Coffee With A Cop" at Starbucks on First and Oracle

Oro Valley, Ariz (September 23, 2014) - The Oro Valley Police Department is excited to announce its September Coffee with a Cop event. It will be on Friday, September 26, 2014 at Starbucks, located at 10785 N Oracle Suite 135 from 8 am - 10 am.

Coffee with a cop is a national initiative supported by the United States Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The goal of this program is to break down barriers between the public and police officers. The majority of contacts law enforcement has with the public is during emergencies, traffic stops, or emotional situations. Those situations are not always the most effective time for relationship building with the community. Coffee with a cop allows for a relaxed one-on-one interaction between the community and your local police officer.

(Source: Oro Valley Police Department Press Release)
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Oro Valley Announces Free Concert Series At Steam Pump Ranch

Oro Valley, Arizona (September 19, 2014) - Beginning October 11, and running the second Saturday of every month through March, the Town of Oro Valley, in partnership with the Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance, will host a free concert series for all ages at historic Steam Pump Ranch, 10901 N. Oracle Road. The live, musical performances are 10:30 a.m. - noon, and are held in conjunction with the Oro Valley Farmers Market. Admission is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs. A performance schedule follows.
  • October 11, 2014 Bill Ganz (Western) 
  • December 13, 2014 Reno Del Mar (Latin acoustic duo) 
  • January 10, 2015 High Desert (Bluegrass) 
  • February 14, 2015 Gabriel Ayala (Guitarist) 
  • March 14, 2015 Greg Morton (Bluegrass)
(Source: Oro Valley Press Release)
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Oro Valley Demonstrates Readiness For Future Emergency Situations

Oro Valley, Arizona (September 19, 2014) - While Oro Valley and the Tucson-Metro area are breathing a sigh of relief as Odile glanced by without much impact, the efforts that went into preparing for a catastrophic storm are being recognized by staff and the community as confirmation of the Town's readiness in an emergency.

"We are very fortunate that the storm did not hit our area as the National Weather Service had predicted," commented Town Manager Greg Caton. "Our staff train regularly for storm scenarios exactly like this one, so we were prepared for what the storm might bring our community. Our Town employees serve this great community every day, and we take the responsibility very seriously to continue that great service during storms and times of need."

In preparation for Odile, the Town of Oro Valley and the Golder Ranch Fire District partnered to launch a joint-command Emergency Operations Center. Other agencies partnering with the Town included Mountain Vista Fire and the Pima County Office of Emergency Management, who supplied most of the sandbags that were distributed. In addition, Town Manager Greg Caton allocated extra staff and resources to facilitate the September 8 storm clean-up as well as anticipated needs from this week's storm.

Although Odile didn't make much of an impact, the community is still recovering from the September 8 storms, and will be preparing for whatever the next significant event may be.

Families who would like to learn more about individual and family preparedness are invited to attend the Southern Arizona Urban Survival Fest on Saturday, September 20, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. at Kino Stadium. This free, community event is sponsored by World Care, Pima County Office of Emergency Management, Rock 102 KFMA and Vantage West Credit Union. For details, visit: http://www.urbansurvivalfest.org/.

(Source: Oro Valley Press Release)
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Update: Suspect Arrested In Car Break-ins

Oro Valley, AZ-(September 19, 2014) - Oro Valley Police Department (OVPD) has taken into custody Torey Reinhardt. Reinhardt has been booked into the Pima County Adult Detention Facility for the following charges: 3 counts of Trafficking in stolen Property (F2), 3 counts of Burglary in the third degree (F4), 1 count of Possession of Heroin (F4) and 1 count of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (F6). Additional charges are pending on Reinhardt. OVPD would like to extend their sincere gratitude for the public's efforts leading to the apprehension of Reinhardt.

(Source: Oro Valley Police Department Press Release)
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Take LOVE's Oro Valley 40th Anniversary Quiz

This year marks Oro Valley's 40th anniversary.  Whether you've been here forever or are a newcomer to town, you might enjoy taking LOVE's Oro Valley 40th Anniversary Quiz.  Here are 6 questions that cover Oro Valley's early years.

We'll reveal the answer next week.

Instructions:

To answer all questions, place your cursor on the quiz and scroll up and down.  Click on the submit button which is on the bottom of the form to submit it to us.




Enjoy!
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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Heather's Corner: Harvest and Donate Your Fruit

Did you know that at one time Oro Valley had commercial orange groves? They were located on Linda Vista Road. They were huge. Today, the only oranges are in our backyards? We don’t sell this fruit. Some of us don’t even eat it. Many of us simply throw it away.

Wait! There may be a better answer to what to do with that unwanted fruit!  Give it away!

Imagine something as simple as allowing volunteers to pick unwanted fruit off of your backyard fruit trees, and in doing so helping refugees from war-torn countries. It is possible, it is happening, and moreover, you can be a part of it. This is "working cooperatively together" for the greater good, or as the non-profit organization is called, Iskashitaa.

Please Don' t Throw Me Away!
Upon returning to Tucson from Malawi villages while working on her dissertation, Dr. Barbara Eiswerth noticed rotting and fallen fruit on the ground around Tucson.

Eiswerth combined her experience in Africa and her educational background in environmental science and land management to launch "a project through the Tucson Youth Work Enhancement program to educate local high school teens about food resources. Together, they mapped 162 homes with 296 fruit-producing trees. Unwanted fruit harvested from these trees was then distributed to local farmers’ markets and soup kitchens." (Source)

Dr. Barbara Eiswerth
In 2003, Eiswerth recruited refugee students to help father and harvest the fruit and received a grant from the United Way of America to begin regular harvesting with and for refugees.

Iskashitaa offers many programs; but, thhe most prevailing program remains gleaning, or harvesting unwanted produce from property owners and local farmers. Currently the program has gone from a few thousand pounds of food a year to an impressive 100,000 pounds of unwanted food each year of fruits, nuts, and vegetables for refugees and "food insecure" residents of Tucson. That is over one million servings of food thus far.

Please think about this organization as the hundreds of citrus trees begin to ripen in Oro Valley these next few months. What you can't eat yourselves or give away, you can offer in support of this organization.

Read more about their harvesting program.  See how you can help.

(Learn more)
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Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Involved Oro Valley: 500 Acres Being Considered For Increased Home Density

Developers have made applications to the Town Of Oro Valley that could change the land use of 500 acres. This is the total acreage from 5 developer requests. In some instances, these changes require that exceptions be made to Oro Valley's Environmentally Sensitive Land Ordinance. In all cases, these changes request that more homes be built than are are currently allowed.

Do we have your attention?  Not yet?

Three of these requests require an amendment to the 2005 General Plan.  2 others require a change in planned areas development (PAD) agreements.

Now, do we have your attention?

Here's a link for you to view a list of all requests and projects.

Do you feel you should not be involved because it none of these projects are in your backyard?

If so, you are making a huge mistake.  Oro Valley is your backyard.  Be aware. Get involved. Or be prepared to suffer the consequences.

It is easy to get involved.  All that is takes is some of your time.

All Oro Valley residents have ample opportunity to get involved in the review and approval process for each of these 5 requests.

There are at least 6 opportunities for involvement in each request. The first two opportunities occur in neighborhood meetings.  For example, we've listed 2 neighborhood meetings that are taking place soon. One is tonight.  The other neighborhood meeting is a week from tonight.   The next 2 occur if the developer moves forward.  These would be hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission.  The last 2 opportunities occur in hearings before the Oro Valley Town Council.   

Here's an example of what being involved means.

Ruralshannon.org is focussed on one of the general plan amendment requests, the "Manning Property" (South of Ironwood Ridge). The requests is to allow almost 300 homes in a area where only 23 could no be built given the rural land use general plan designation.  The site is an example of how a community can mobilize to be involved in the request process.

Another example is "Citizen Advocates of the Oro Valley General Plan."
"We believe that the developer's intent for the parcels on LaCholla from Glover to Lambert does not match the Vision, Goals, and Policies of the General Plan. Additionally, it should be hard to amend the General Plan because it's the only town document that citizens have ratified. We approved it. We voted on it. To this end, we are currently in negotiations with the developer (The WLB Group) and the Town of Oro Valley."
This amendment involves more than 300 acres.  Working together, this group has been able to encourage changes to the originally-filed request.

There are other groups formed to consider other requests.  We'll let you know more about them as we learn more.

Being involved gives you the opportunity to shape the future.  Not being involved gives you the opportunity to be shaped by the future.
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