Monday, June 2, 2014

Your Help Needed Wednesday To Move Oro Valley Historic Preservation Forward

The Oro Valley Historic Preservation Commission has prepared an update to the Oro Valley's Cultural Heritage Preservation Plan. It was discussed at the May 5, 2014 Commission Meeting.

"Among the most important aspects of historic preservation today is ensuring that it is relevant to a community and will attract visitors—to learn about special places of the past, and to contribute to the overall economic sustainability of a community." (Report, Page 1).

We think that historic Steam Pump Ranch is just such a "place of the past."  In fact, the preservation plan identifies 3 historic significant places in Oro Valley:  Steam Pump Ranch, historic neighborhoods and Honey Bee Village. (Report, Page 2)

Oro Valley has spent little money on historic preservation during the past 4 years.  Funds have been available. However, historic preservation has suffered in terms of priority. It has been last. For example, during the past 4 years, increased funding for the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce has taken priority over historic preservation.  Building ball fields at a cost of $2 million has taken precedence over historic preservation.  Building an aquatic center at a cost of $5 million has taken precedence over historic preservation.

Funds for the ball fields and the aquatic center have come from the bed tax fund.  The justification for doing this is that these facilities will attract visitors to Oro Valley.  They well may.  The same logic applies to historic facilities.  A refurbished Steam Pump Ranch would be a major attraction in Oro Valley.

Resident Bill Adler agrees that historic preservation has been ignored by the town. Addressing the Commission at the May 5 meeting Adler noted: "Last year, I reported that there was no money in the town budget for historic preservation... This year the town has budgeted $125,000 [our of almost $104 million] for a metal roof over the ruin of what use to be the pump house.  I don't think that that is historic preservation because the pump house is no longer even identifiable as a pump house."

Adler continued: "There's money in the budget to do more."

Apparently, Council Members Garner and Zinkin agree.

Wednesday, based on their urging, The Oro Valley Town Council will discuss refurbishing one piece of Steam Pump Ranch: The Procter-Leiber House.  As we reported last week, both Garner and Zinkin believe that Steam Pump Ranch can be a major Oro Valley asset.  Their idea is to use about $500,000 of contingency reserves to preserve the house before it, like the steam pump house, deteriorates beyond repair.

"If we could get the Lieber house back to where it can be used, then it would become an economic driver, because we can have, as the master plan calls for, classes and presentations"and much more. (Resident Bill Adler at the Commission Meeting 4:30).  It would be major draw and historic site for Oro Valley.

This Wednesday the council will have the opportunity to get it right; to make a significant investment in historic preservation.  But, this council, often divided and often opposed to ideas presented by Council Members Burns, Garner or Zinkin, may not move forward without encouragement from you, the citizens of Oro Valley.

As the preservation plan notes: "Successful development of the Ranch is dependent on the citizens of Oro Valley becoming aware of and supporting the vital role the site can play in the community with an emphasis on local involvement and public access."  (Report, Page 3).  So, if you believe that historic preservation matters, you should consider attending this meeting and voicing your opinion.


Richard Furash, MBA said...

I received the following from a reader in response to this posting;

"The issue needs support - not just from Oro Valley - but from all who value historic places. The Town has a 39% reserve - significantly more than required or necessary. The Town believes the reserve allows them to pay cash for "'hings' that might have to otherwise be financed. Steam Pump Ranch qualifies."

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I wish it were true that if many citizens speak at a meeting in favor of an idea presented by Council Members Garner, Zinkin or Burns, that the majority-4 will listen to them and vote yes. But that's not what I've seen. If the issue has anything to do with the police, developers, or business owners, the citizens wishes are ignored. They will only vote yes on this issue (or any issue) if it's advantageous to one of the above three groups.