Monday, October 13, 2014

Here's Some Cheese To Go With Your Whine

The town of Oro Valley And the Oro Valley Chamber of Commerce held in Oro Valley Economic Summit at the Oro Valley country club on October 3. The summit was open to businesses in the community and those residents who were invited.

We were not invited. However, resident Bill Adler was invited and he provided us some insight into what was said at the meeting.

Very little was said about economic development during the summit.  Instead, the focus was on what the Town of Oro Valley could do to make things better for business.

We had an "Ah Ha" moment when we read Bill's update. We realized that some businesses whine and complain as much as some residents. "It's interesting how business related individuals feel they have trouble being heard when well over 95% of development is approved," Bill observed. "What failed to occur is a commitment on the part of business to participate in solutions.  Business has never participated in the community to solve problems, but only as a special interest."

One businessman, Greg Wexler of land developer Wexler and Associates, spoke of residents who persist in demanding answers when, in his opinion, they've already been provided.

Adler notes: "This is a basic problem that the Neighborhood Ordinance that I initiated back in 2008-9 was to help solve. It hasn't because the meetings are not run consistent with the ordinance."

As Don Bristow stated at the last town council meeting (see our posting), at least some of the neighborhood meetings are run in a manner that causes residents to learn only some information.  The result, in Don's opinion, was that there are often many unanswered questions.

Participants feel that Oro Valley needs a "Downtown." Just a few years ago, Oro Valley did have a visioned downtown. It was called Town Center. It was to be at First and Oracle. There are those who would assert that politics and opposition from business interests resulted in what is being built there today: A shopping center and "class A" apartments.

At no time has the business community offered to construct a Town Center for the Town. Though, they would like to see one, none stated interest in creating of financing one. That would be up to the residents.

"A Town Center is largely civic in nature...that means non profits, community service organizations as well as some local government offices." observes Adler. "Is business willing to create, in exchange for some retail/office mixed - use development, a balance of civic uses in a Town Center?"

Other items mentioned by businesses was that Oro Valley needs to simplify regulations, recruit businesses that will provide better jobs, further develop and increase occupancy of Innovation Park and promote, and market Oro Valley more effectively.

Adler concluded: "There were more generalities, but again what is important is what is missing: What's important to the community - not just to business. They are not the same to many. But, essentially, the attendees did not offer to help achieve any of the items discussed. It's the Town's duty, which means local residents."
Our thanks to resident Bill Adler for his help with this posting.

1 comment:

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Wexler is wrong when he says that residents persist in demanding answers that they've already provided. The citizens group, "Citizen Advocates of the Oro Valley General Plan" is in the process of preparing NUMEROUS documents with our concerns that have not yet been addressed and our questions that have not yet been answered.

Here's an example: The WLB Project Summary states that, "Future uses would be oriented to provide convenient and appropriate services to the surrounding neighborhoods as well as future residents."

QUESTIONS: How do you determine what the appropriate services are to the surrounding residents? How do you determine appropriate services to future residents when you cannot predict what that demographic will be?

Their summary also states: "The Master Planned Community designation is best suited for this location because it will allow a complimentary mix of uses and ensure cohesive, well-planned development along the length of LaCholla Blvd."

QUESTIONS: Shouldn't the current residents of this area determine what's "best suited" for us? Didn't we already determine that when we chose to live in a single-family residential area with large lot sizes and an abundance of natural desert landscape? There are currently two gas stations at the NE corner of LaCanada and Lambert. Is this an example of a cohesive, well-planned development? What guarantee do we have that we won't be subjected to the same poor decision making on LaCholla?

Those are just the questions from page 1 of a 6-page document that we will be submitting to the town shortly.