Friday, December 19, 2014

Bits and Pieces


Burns Sentenced To Probation

"Oro Valley Town Councilman Brendan Burns was sentenced to probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to criminal trespassing. Pima County Superior Court Judge Javier Chon-Lopez sentenced Burns to two years probation in connection with a May 20 incident where the councilman was unlawfully in the home of his estranged wife." (Source)

Oro Valley's Housing Market Continues To Be Depressed

The November and December Oro Valley "Economic Development Commercial Project Status Report" reports nothing new on the economic development front. Meanwhile, Long Realty's Housing Report for November reports a  20% decreases in the number of house closings in the month of November 2014 vs. 2013.
"Months of inventory was 8.9, up from 6.5 in November 2013.  Median price of homes sold was $236,000 a month of November 2, 2014 down  4% from 2013.  The Oro Valley Area had54 properties under contract in November 2014, up 2% from November 2013."    
Federal Government statistics report that the economy is improving.  However, housing sales and housing values in Oro Valley continue to be depressed.
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Oro Valley Council Liaisons Approved

Several weeks ago, the town Council approved the following assignments for councilmembers to be liaisons with town commissions:
  • Councilmember Zinkin: Board of Adjustment 
  • Vice Mayor Waters to the Conceptual Design Review Board 
  • Councilmember Zinkin to the Historic Preservation Commission 
  • Councilmember Snider to the Parks &Recreation Advisory Board 
  • Councilmember Hornat to the Planning & Zoning Commission 
  • Councilmember Garner to the Stormwater Utility Commission 
  • Councilmember Hornat to the Water Utility Commission 
  • Councilmember Snider to the Amphitheater School District 
  • Councilmember Hornat to the Legislative District 
  • Vice Mayor Waters to Visit Tucson 
  • Mayor Hiremath to the Greater Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce 
  • Mayor Hiremath to the Pima Association of Governments 
  • Mayor Hiremath to the Regional Transportation Authority
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Water Rate Increase Notice Approved

The Oro Valley town Council has approved a notice to increase water rates.    The combination of the proposed increase in commodity rates and the proposed decrease in the GPF will reduce the average residential customer’s bill by $0.03 per month."

The plan is for changes as follows:
  • Decrease in the potable and reclaimed Groundwater Preservation Fee (GPF) 
  • Increase in the potable and reclaimed commodity rates 
  • No increase in the monthly base rates for potable and reclaimed water Increase in the potable and reclaimed construction water rates 
  • Increase in meter installation fees to recover costs 
  • Increase in residential security deposits for non-property owner accounts 
  • Increase in residential security deposits for landlord accounts
(Source)
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Thursday Mid Day 2: Referendum Filed: Oro Valley Residents Look to Overturn Town Council’s Golf Club Vote


"December 18, 2014 – (Oro Valley, AZ) – Oro Valley residents who oppose the Town Council’s recent resolution to purchase a golf club have filed an application for a referendum petition to overturn last night’s Town Council vote. Tee’d Off Over Tax Hike, (T.O.O.T.H. in OV), will challenge the Council’s decision to buy the El Conquistador Country Club, Golf and tennis facilities in an effort to ultimately have voters decide on the project.

Following five and a half hours of public comment mostly against the proposal, Mayor Satish Hiremath, Councilwoman Mary Snider, Vice Mayor Lou Waters and Councilman Joe Hornat voted to approve the controversial project and tax increase. Citing concerns with financial data and forecasting, Councilmen Bill Garner, Brendan Burns and Mike Zinkin voted against the idea and corresponding tax hike.

Shirl Lamonna, who is heading up the referendum said, “It is unfortunate Hiremath, Snider, Waters and Hornat, who were elected to represent the people they serve, not only ignored the will of their constituents by approving this financially flawed project but have further risked the financial future and prosperity of Oro Valley in doing so”. Lamonna went on to say, “It is also very concerning that every individual who voted for this project and tax increase, has received substantial campaign funding from interested parties involved in this transaction”.

On top of the declining golf industry statistics, residents were stunned to hear the council had received new, revised capital improvement numbers just hours before the meeting. Questions of due diligence, transparency and lack of fiduciary responsibility were the common theme from the residents who spoke out at the meeting. T.O.O.T.H in OV plans to set up various locations in Oro Valley to have residents sign petitions in order to overturn the decision of the Town Council and to allow the decision to be placed on a ballot for vote. The petitions will be turned in by January 16th.

For more information contact toothinov@gmail.com, future updates will be available at www.toothinov.org, which is currently under construction.

(Source: Press Release)
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Thursday Mid Day Special: El Con Purchase Referendum Petitioning Underway

There are citizens of Oro Valley who are opposing Wednesday's Oro Valley Town Council's 4-3 approval of the purchase of theThe El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Country Club. They have established a political action committee.

The group filed a statement of organization this morning with the Oro Valley town clerk. The group now has 30 days to secure sufficient Oro Valley registered voter signatures to force a voter referendum on the purchase.

This filing complicates the situation regarding the purchase.

The filing presents a legal challenge to the town. Oro Valley can continue to negotiate with HSL. This is what last night's vote charged town manager Caton to do. However, the town can not consummate an agreement before the 30-day petition filing deadline. If sufficient signatures are obtained, then the town can only move forward with the transaction if it is voter approved.

The filing for a referendum also presents a challenge to HSL Properties. HSL Properties is the purchaser of the El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Country Club. and the El Conquistador Resort.  According the last night's council discussion, HSL was scheduled to buy the property from MetLife today.

HSL's timing regarding the sale to Oro Valley may be such that they can not wait for either the 30 day or vote, if one occurs. Mayor Hiremath stated at last night's meeting that HSL had other buyers that would purchase the property if Oro Valley did not agree to do so.  A delay in timing could trigger such an event.

If voting actually does occur, it is likely that more voters will vote in this referendum than in the August mayoral and council election. This is because all Oro Valley registered voters would receive ballots or be able to vote at the polls as opposed to just those who are registered partisans or who asked for ballots. Also, the issue is a "hot button" for many.
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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Oro Valley Council Votes 4-3 To Purchase ElCon

The Oro Valley Town Council voted last night to purchase the The El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Country Club, invest in it to create a community and recreation center, and raise the sales tax one-half cent to help pay for its operation.  This decision came afte 5 1/2 hours of discussion. The next step is for Town Manager Caton to negotiate the transaction.

The vote was along traditional lines. The Majority-4 block voted yes. Council Member's Burns, Garner and Zinkin voting no.

The no votes were on the basis that there are either suitable alternatives or that the council has not had sufficient time to review the numbers. They assert that they have been receiving materials on this transactions up until an hour before the meeting.

There were approximately 40 public speakers:
  • One resident, Rick Chandler, stated the he offered the town that he would form a business group that would lease the golf operation from the town and take them out of the golf business. Oro Valley would then have the community center with no golf.
  • Some residents asked whether the town would be willing to "bail out" other Oro Valley failing golf courses. 
  • The Sun City Homeowners Association announced that they unanimously voted to not support this transaction. They asserted, among other things that "This purchase and a sales tax increase will cause our residents to subsidize additional golf courses that will be in direct competition with our own golf course." (Source: SCOV Press Release)
  • Residents living on or near the golf courses supported the purchase.
  • Many recommended that the town spend more time considering open items. Mayor Hiremath said that they must make this decision tonight or the deal would go away.
Council Member Zinkin made the case for the town building its own facility for what it is going to cast to take over the facility.  He observed that the City of Tucson simply can not turn its losing golf business.  "14 yes and 25 no" speakers, noted Zinkin. "What is the point of holding a public meeting if you are not going to listen."

"This is a deal we should walk away from," observed Council Member Garner. However, Oro Valley didn't. "You can rail road this through...It is not in the town's position that Oro Valley be in the land buying business."

"This deal stinks," stated Garner. "The forward thinking is to build it ground-up," noted Garner.

"We should not be in the golf business. We should have a public:private partnership," observed Council Member Burns.

Council Member Snider spoke of the emotions of purchasing a property that is in the heart of Oro Valley and of its importance to our community. This is something she believes the town must do.

Council Member Waters noted that people in Oro Valley want a community center. "When this proposal came up I said: 'Oh my God, for a million dollars we can have a community center'.. and what better place for it than right in the heart of Oro Valley."  Water's said that Oro Valley has a history of intense opposition to everything. He pointed to the "sale" of Cayote Run to the RTA and the turnover of the library to Pima County.  "Intense opposition," he observed. Waters continued: "If it were up to me, I'd push the golf off to the side and let someone else handle it."

To me personally, it is about controlling the destiny of 324 acres." in the heart of our community, observed Mayor Hiremath. "That's park and recreation area", observed Snider. It does not have to make money. "There is no relationship between the town and HSL," asserted Snider.

After the meeting, we were told that a group is forming to petition for voter referendum.  The referendum would require a public vote.  We will report more on this as we learn the details.

Other Reports:

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Tonight's The Night: What People Don't Like About The ElCon Purchase (Part 2)

Tonight, the Oro Valley Town Council will consider increasing the sales tax by one half cent to finance the operation of a community center and recreation facility. The facility will be the site of the The El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Country Club.  The facility includes several golf courses, two swimming pools, and 31 tennis courts. Oro Valley will  purchase from HSL Properties for $1 million.  HSL is purchasing it from Met Life.

Monday, we presented the town's case for approving this transaction.    In this posting, we present the objections of those who do not favor this transaction:
  • The one half cent sales tax increase lacks community input
  • There is a rush to make a decision 
  • Some allege insufficient due diligence on the part of an inexperienced Oro Valley management team. (Monday we posted regarding the steps undertaken by the town.  You can and should draw your own conclusions as to whether these steps were sufficient to use to advocate for the purchase...or not.)
  • Some fear an appearance of influence based on the campaign relationship between the Mayor, the council majority and HSL Properties 
  • Some question the judgment of purchasing and running golf courses at a time when the golf busineess is in a major decline and when other golf courses in our town are suffering financially.
  • Others fear the substantial investment required and a financial feasibility pinned on the "hope" of making money five years from now, after investing millions 
  • Some question wither the town should go into a business that compete with private enterprise
    • Oro Valley's private golf clubs 
    • Oro Valley's fitness clubs 
  • Perhaps, some allege, the inspection of the facility has not revealed big problems like an allege "black mold" problem
  • Others wonder why Oro Valley wants to provide two activities, golf and tennis, that have never even been on the radar of the town before the El Con opportunity.
Some of these concerns have been asked and answered. For example, the town responded to a lack of community input, the urgency of the transaction, and the need for a multi-use facility in its press release last week. In addition, LOVE was provide a list of due diligence activities, which we wrote about on Monday.
  • The community will have the opportunity this evening to opine on this transaction.  This will give them the opportunity to opine on the sales tax increase that is proposed.  
  • The  urgency of the transaction is based on the timing of the other parties involved in it. 
  • The town is providing golf  and tennis  this facility because the community, in a recent survey, said they wanted a multi-use recreation center. 
  • The town provided us with a detailed list of due diligence activities that they undertook.  We posted these Monday.
Mayor Hiremath's view of the transaction is that any "...implication that campaign contributions are a factor in my decision making is ludicrous."

Some of the concerns have not been addressed by the town or others:
  • It is wise to purchase and operate a golf course? 
  • Is it wise for Oro Valley ito compete with private enterprise? 
  • Is this transaction and the substantial future costs worth the investment?
  • Do people want the community center but  not the "amenities?"
It is expected that many citizens will speak at tonight's meeting. Feelings are running strong.

We have been told  that some are prepared to form a PAC to petition for voter approval of this item. if he council approves this item tonight.

Mayor Hiremath faces a cross roads: Will he jam this purchase down the throats of the many who oppose it, as a 4-3 council vote would do; or will he have the wisdom to should slow down this race, take a breath, and let Oro Valley residents digest it?  

LOVE plans to attend this meeting and post results.  Stay tuned!
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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Heather's Corner: A Family Considers An Oro Valley Community Center


There is potential that a Community Center may be on the horizon for Oro Valley sooner rather than later. Regardless of where or when it happens, for my family it would mean a great deal. A Community Center, by definition, is for social, cultural, or recreational purposes, and let's face it, will provide more opportunity to escape the summer heat.

When I was younger, I would accompany my best friend and her family as they frequented our town's community center as members. After school it was a safe place to do to homework and wait for her father to arrive from work where the family would participate in racket ball, tennis, or swimming while catching up with a few neighborhood friends. On weekends we would have lunch at the on-site restaurant and participate in an art class or two. My point is to this day, those are some of the fondest memories I have. I'd like the opportunity to provide the same for my children.

A Community Center could be utilized:

As the place for all-community celebrations at various occasions and traditions.

As the place for public meetings of the citizens on various issues.

As the place where politicians or other official leaders come to meet the citizens and ask for their opinions, support or votes ("election campaigning" in democracies, other kinds of requests in non-democracies).

As a place where community members meet each other socially.

As a place housing local clubs and volunteer activities.

As a place that community members (and sometimes others), can rent cheaply when a private family function or party is too big for their own home. For instance the non-church parts of weddings, funerals etc.

As a place that passes on and retells local history.

There are many reasons to incorporate a Community Center in Oro Valley. I think all ages, interests, and socio-economic groups would benefit from a gathering place offering a variety of recreational, sports-oriented, and artistic amenities that we could all participate in. A place that encompasses the hobbies, interests, and pastimes of my entire family all while in the company of one another. Where else can you say that happens? Yes, reason to celebrate, indeed!

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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.)

Guest View-Pat Straney: Tomorrow, A "Watershed Moment" For The Town Of Oro Valley

Wednesday, the Mayor and City Council of the Town of Oro Valley have an opportunity to demonstrate sound, business-based, fiscally responsible leadership that will benefit the community at large; or, concurrently, will cause potential harm, driving away possible new residents and businesses not desirous of further taxes.

Mr. Mayor and Council Members.  I ask you NOT to go forward with the acquisition of the Hilton El Conquistador Golf and Country Club facilities.

The business case for this decision appears deeply flawed based on the limited information provided and the Town of Oro Valley assumptions and projections that have little or no “data driven” support in the reality of today’s “real world” golf and country club demographics. In fact, this proposal flies in the face of what has and is happening with the golf business sector here in Oro Valley, Tucson and the country as a whole.

Justification for financial success of this project is based on an “as-of-yet” undocumented resurgence in the golf industry. In fact, it is just the opposite. It is no more than a hopeful “opinion.

The current stated plan is to finance this acquisition with Oro Valley contingency funds and a permanent 2.5% sales tax (which represents a 25 % increase from the current sales tax of 2.0%). The town estimates that it will be a number of years waiting for the golf operations to possibly break even or show a profit. These assumptions seem based on a “Build It or Improve It and They Will Come” philosophy. This includes the assumption that the greater community of Oro Valley does, indeed, desire a community center.

It is public knowledge that the golf courses at Rancho Vistoso, Stone Canyon, Oro Valley Country Club, Sun City, and several in Tucson – in addition to the Golf Club at The Ritz Carlton have been struggling to stay afloat let alone being profitable over the past number of years. Why would costly, over-the-top spending on 3 old golf courses in need of major repairs and improvements lead to revival of the industry and be considered a good thing for the town of Oro Valley?

Further, with regard to providing recreational facilities focused on physical fitness opportunities, several very nice fitness clubs already exist in Oro Valley, including Anytime Fitness, Planet Fitness, LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym and a specialized Pilates Studio. This is some of what is available to Oro Valley residents at very affordable prices. Council majority has stated a “business friendly” attitude which the displayed in their campaigning literature and comments. Would they now choose to adversely impact local business by adding to their competition challenges?

Effective municipal governance should not be based on this type of high risk speculation. It likely sets the stage for additional unending taxes and resultant negative impacts on all residents and businesses community-wide.

This action should not be taken without public input and broad support.

At the very least, if a community center is, indeed, an established citizen desire and Oro Valley priority, its use, location, capital and on-going costs must be fully defined - and the plan to fund it must be presented to the public - who pay the taxes – for their vote.

Potential funding considerations should include an analysis of all current Town of Oro Valley revenue streams for possible “re-direction” of existing funds to a community center project if it is determined to be of a higher priority than any current or proposed project or operational expense.

A mix of the above revenue analysis and traditional new sources of revenue such as bonds or additional “short-term” taxes specifically directed at this project could improve the business case for this project. Public support is imperative for the success of a project of this magnitude.

So, Mr. Mayor and Council Members, you have publicly stated that the choice is yours to make. We do wonder, however, is it a sound, data-based, fiscally responsible leadership decision, - or is it a self-serving, “bully pulpit-based decision” that will define your leadership style going forward?

The community taxpayers await your decision.

Patrick Straney
Oro Valley Resident

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Patrick Straney is President of the Rancho Vistoso HOA. He is also former 2014 Oro Valley Mayoral Candidate.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Controversy Stirs Over Oro Valley El Con Purchase (Part 1)

Wednesday, the Oro Valley Town Council will consider increasing the sales tax by a half cent to finance the operation of a community center and recreation facility. The operation includes several golf courses, two swimming pools, and 31 tennis courts. The town will create this facility from The El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort, which it will purchase from HSL Properties for $1 million.  HSL is purchasing it from Met Life.

The Town Of Oro Valley is presenting the following "case" for purchasing this property and converting it to a community center and recreation facility:
  • The community has identified a need for a community center in a 2013 survey.    The survey was statistically valid, according to the town.
  • Respondents to a recent survey stated that constructing a multi-use community center with facilities for indoor recreation/fitness programs was at least somewhat important to them.
  • The cost of purchasing The El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort of $1 million is far less than the cost of building a comparable facility, which is estimated to be $20 million
  • The town will pay the purchase price in three equal payments over three years.
  • The purchase price will be paid from the town's contingency fund.  There will be no need to issue debt.
  • The ongoing cost of operating the facility will be paid by an increase of one half cent in the sales tax.  This will generate $2 million annually. The sales tax will be designated solely for the proposed Community and Recreation Center and related amenities.
  • The operation of the property will breakeven in approximately 5 years.
  • The opportunity to purchase this property has a short window. "The aggressive timeline set forth by these two parties has also placed the Town on an accelerated timeline."
         (Source: Town Of Oro Valley media release)

The town has done the following "due diligence" effort in evaluating this opportunity:
  • "Town of Oro Valley Building Official Chuck King completed the initial inspections on the buildings.
  • We then utilized the services of Swaim Associates Architecture for the building proper (analyzing Chuck’s inspection list). They provided a complete review as well as adding suggestions to turn these facilities from a private country club to a public community center.
  • Aqua Design International analyzed the condition of the pools (Aqua Design was our designer who engineered all the pools and water features of our present Aquatic Center). They also supplied the estimate to remediate the pools to an acceptable operation condition as well as meet current code and health standards.
  • Arizona Restaurant Supply (ARS) analyzed the kitchen components and provided an estimate to bring the kitchen facilities up to current code and health standards.
  • Compusult Construction Cost Consulting gathered all the information and provided a detailed cost breakdown of all the elements discovered by Town Staff, Swaim, Aqua Design and ARS.
  • Environmental Strategies Inc. analyzed and tested the facility for asbestos-laden materials, particularly in the fire retardant areas as well as insulation. We are still waiting for final testing results, but so far, information received has been clear.
  • Inspections/analysis of the golf courses were completed by Troon representatives, with some participation from Town staff on certain elements of the analysis." (Source:  Misti Nowak, Oro Valley Communications Administration Director)
In addition, according to Nowak, the town estimates that a new facility built from the ground up would cost approximately $20 million:
  • As a point of reference, the cost of the Northwest YMCA was $222 per square foot in 2002 for construction costs, which included the pool. (The NWYMCA is approx. 32,000 square feet.)
  • If we assume a 2% escalation of construction costs over 5 years (discounting the 7 years of the recession), the present day cost would be $240 per square foot.
  • This cost did not include the land acquisition and sports fields costs associated with the project. The NWYMCA land was donated by the Nanini family, and Pima County picked up the costs for the sports fields.
  • Based on the NWYMCA construction costs, if the Town were to build something comparable to the Hilton Country Club, the breakdown of costs would be as follows:
         Building, Shell, Pools: 40,000sf x $240/sf                                                 = $9,600,000
        16 asphalt tennis courts: $20,000/court x 16 courts                                         = $320,000
        15 concrete tennis courts $1,300,000 (surface) + $10,000/court x 15 courts = $1,450,000
        Grounds and parking30 Acres    (low estimate)                                          $5,000,000 
        Total                                                                                 $16,370,000
  • This total does not include any field development, so we would need to factor in approximately $800,000 per field, based on current Naranja Park costs.
  • In addition, with the addition of the golf courses, the Town would be picking up the remainder of the land for about $12,500 per acre (based on $4,000,000 for 320 acres), to balance the total project cost at $20,000,000."
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We posted Mayor Hiremath's view last week.  The Mayor believes that this transaction satisfies a stated community need and that it makes good business sense.

Council Member Joe Hornat seems to share that view.  Joe, as you know, has a way of simplifying the complex:
"This is an opportunity to get a Community Center...that is the primary goal. The amenities like the pool, tennis courts, property etc make this even more attractive and fill some gaps in our Parks program.
Yes the golf course is a risk, but a manageable risk with the right management company such as Troon, and some investment to bring this course (and the building) up to standards we would all expect. Marketing will be done by Troon and Visit Tucson and that will be a great boost. The potential for offering a "Troon" card to members allowing them to play other Troon courses at a discount should be a great draw also. 
Will it make money day one? No...no business will. It is an investment in the future of Oro Valley. I don't like taxes any more than any rational person, but there has to be a way to support this investment until it turns itself around and it will do that."
Hornat also observed that "...for profit companies are buying golf courses, Mickelson at Stone Canyon (they are building a new country club building besides)...the folks who bought OV Country Club and none of them did it to lose money."
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Wednesday, we will present a list of concerns shared to us by our readers.
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Friday, December 12, 2014

Bits and Pieces


Please Don't "Rain On Our Parade"

Tomorrow is the Oro Valley Holiday Parade. The forecast is for cooler weather with some showers. The parade starts at 9:30 at La Cholla and Naranja. The parade  proceeds east along Naranja to La Canada.
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Oro Valley Country Club Sold

The Oro Valley Country Club, Oro Valley's original golf course, was sold to ClubCorp.  The sales was announced last week. ClubCorp is an NYSE traded public company (Ticker: MYCC).  There was no announcement of the details of the sale.  However, we do know that the club was sold by the holder of the notes issued to upgrade the facility.

This club has "extra value" because it has grand fathered water rights. Thus, its water use can not be restricted by the town.
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Parks and Recreation Commission Recommends Against El Conquistador Golf Course Purchase

As reported by Becky Pallack of the Arizona Daily Star.
"The parks board voted 5-1 to advise the Town Council to go ahead with the purchase — without the golf business. 'We really wish we could get these wonderful facilities at a cheap cost and dump the golf courses,” board member Dana Hallin said.'"
Read the article here
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Arizona Daily Independent: "Oro Valley Residents Denied Voice In Proposed El Conquistador Purchase"

The Arizona Daily Independent reports that Oro Valley Council Members Zinkin and Garner have series of concerns. The concerns regard the potential purchase by Town Of Oro Valley of the El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort.  According to the report, there is great concern as why there is such a rush to purchase this facility, what the facility will really cost Oro Valley, and whether or not the facility will really suit the needs of the community.
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Naranja Park Planning Continues: An Event Center and More Possible

Consulting firm McGann and Associates presented the latest draft of a Naranja Park plan to the Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Commission this week. The concept is still in the planning phase. Here is some of what is being considered:
  • The archery site would remain as located, with an updated rest room facility
  • There is an "Event center " that is the hub of the park
  • The plan would add 6 multi-purpose fields with lights
  • An outdoor performance area is located north of these fields
  • There is a family play area, with recreation equipment and ramadas
  • 3 little league sized baseball fields of 200 plus fences and a full-size baseball field are on the north of the property
  • There is also a group use area. 
This latest plan assumes that the town will purchase the El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort and 
use it as the Oro Valley's Community and Recreation Center. Town Council will consider this purchase and an increase of .5% sales tax at next Wednesday's regular counsel meeting.
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Register Your Players For The "Oro Valley Little League"

The Coronado Little League has changed it's name. It is now called the Oro Valley Little League. There are 300 players in the league, ranging from 4 to 18 years old. 75% of the players are Oro Valley residents.

The league has 25 plus teams. It operates 9 months a year. At present, the league uses 2 fields in Oro Valley. The league pays $10,000 per year for field use.  Future new fields at Naranja Park will substantially improve their operation. 

According to league president, Ray Feltes: "Our next big step is Spring registration. Registration forms available at our web site: www.orovalleyll.com"

You can register players at Dick's Sporting Goods in the Oro Valley Marketplace on the following dates:
  • January 11: 1pm-4pm
  • January 14: 6pm-8pm
  • January 24: 9am-12pm
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La Cholla Widening To Start In 2015-16

At this week's general plan amendment hearing, Mayor Hiremath confirmed that widening of La Cholla, originally planned to start in 2021, will  start next year (Planning stage) with construction starting in 2016.  This project is funded by the Regional Transit Authority ("RTA").   

The project will widen La Cholla, from a bit north of Naranja, then south, to a 4-lane desert road with walking and bicycle paths.

Mayor Hiremath is Oro Valley's representative to the RTA. The Mayor is confident that the project will be completed in a timely manner. The Town Of Oro Valley will manage this project.
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Oro Valley Launches Youth Recreation Scholarship Program

"Oro Valley, Arizona (December 8, 2014) – The Town of Oro Valley is pleased to announce a new scholarship fund to make fee-based recreation programs more accessible to Oro Valley youth who may be unable to participate in recreational programs and activities due to financial constraints. The funding is received through the Oro Valley Water Utility’s voluntary “Round-Up” program, which allows customers to round up their water bills to the next dollar. Water bill inserts with complete details are currently being mailed to all Oro Valley Water Utility customers, but any interested citizen may donate to the program. See below for details on how to donate or how to apply for a youth scholarship." (Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)
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Oro Valley Honors Volunteers Of The Year

Last night, The Town Of Oro Valley honored Lee Craig, Larry Forchione, Ellen Guyer, Warren Lazar,  John Lowe, Carolyn Milkey, and Mary Robare  as "Volunteers Of The Year." The event was hosted at the Hilton El Conquistador Golf Resort Presidio Ballroom. (Source: Town Of Oro Valley Press Release)
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Spring Oro Valley Parks And Recreation Guide Available

Click here to view a copy of the Springs Oro Valley Parks and Recreation guide.
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Guest View-Don Bristow: "Guest View: Is El Con Deal A Good Deal Or Not For Oro Valley?"

On December 17, the Oro Valley Town Council will consider the purchase of the El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Club. The plan is to use it as a Community and Recreation Center and to raise of the Oro Valley sales tax to pay for its operations.  

Resident Don Bristow, a former council candidate, agreed to share a message he sent to residents about this transaction.  Based on feedback you have given us, his concerns are shared with many in the community.
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"In case you haven’t heard about the December 3rd Council meeting, and read that Oro Valley will raise sales taxes (without a sunset) to acquire El Conquistador’s country club, I have attached three items. Two are articles from the Arizona Daily Star, one appeared only online at Tucson.com. The other is an article about the decline of golfers and reasons for not getting into the golf course business. Course constructions, play and number of golfers continued to decline in 2013 as it has for many years, and it seems as though nothing can restart it. Even the proposed management company, Troon, agrees, when its vice president of sales says, “There’s no one thing that’s going to turn the industry or a club around.”

Pay back is hell! This deal is too good to pass up! These axioms are very appropriate for the Town Manger and Mayor Hiremath’s push for the Town to purchase the golf courses, tennis courts, and associated supporting facilities. The Town would purchase these through a collaborative arrangement with HSL Properties. This would allow HSL to buy the financiallydepressed Hilton El Conquistador Hotel which has been for sale for two years with no offers. Could HSL even buy the hotel if the golf courses are not sold?

You may know HSL as the owner of the new Encantada Steampump apartments near the Basis School; Hotel Arizona near the Tucson Convention Center; among other apartment and hotel holdings. You have probably read about Mr. Lopez and the Hotel Arizona which he let fall into shabbiness and disrepair; abandoned; and has refused to do anything to it unless Tucson gives him money.

You may also know HSL was biggest contributor to the reelection campaign of the four incumbents. The incumbents received close to $16,000 from HSL. Right before the election, the four incumbents began talking about the need for a community center. Mayor Hiremath claimed the discussions regarding sales of the Hilton have been going on for several months. Was he part of the discussions before the election? Is this purchase pay back for the money HSL invested in Oro Valley’s reelected officials?

Recently, the Stone Canyon Golf course sold for $20. The Ritz Carlton golf operations were sold for only $1. Is one million dollars a good price for Oro Valley to consider this? The Town’s PowerPoint presentation at the December 3rd meeting (view online) shows the Town will pay a yearly $1.2 to $1.5 million operating subsidy. That plus significant capital improvements of over $5 million, will leave the Town with a multimillion dollar deficit over the next five years.

On top of all this, the Mayor and his cohorts DO NOT WANT ANY PUBLIC INPUT. Is it fair for everyone who lives or shops in Oro Valley to pay increased sales taxes to support this purchase without input? Hopefully this is not a done deal.

Your opinions should be heard, and all your questions should be answered! Contact all of these people before the December 17th meeting when the decision will be finalized. Also, attend the meeting and let your voice be heard!

 gcaton@orovalleyaz.gov (town manager)      shiremath@orovalleyaz.com   (mayor)
  bburns@orovalleyaz.gov                                wgarner@orovalleyaz.gov
 jhornat@orovalleyaz.gov                                msnider@orovalleyaz.gov
 lwaters@orovalleyaz.gov                                mzinkin@orovalleyaz.gov
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