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?


Richard Furash, MBA said...

I recently made a drive back to Naranja Park and do not see that as the right location for a community center. The park is not centrally located nor does it lend itself to the visibility needed by a "community center". On the other hand a multi-use facility in a park like setting at Steam Pump Ranch seems like the right answer for me.

I lived in a small city in South Carolina whose community center evolved into the city visitors center operated by the chamber of commerce. The facility was busy all the time,and operational costs were minimized by the Chamber of Commerce becoming the center events scheduler in return for free space for their offices. The facility evolved into a senior center, a scouting center, a meeting center for the multiples of civic and special interest clubs that needed meeting space, a fairly substantial banquet hall which was scheduled to the hilt, and a nicely appointed Italian restaurant operated by a third party concessionaire which became a thriving dining destination in the city.

The only downside that I recall resulted from the wrong demographic of users being attracted to the originally installed game/pool room and fitness center. These functions were quickly discontinued and the space converted to more community centric use.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

A little off topic- The Star had an article about Councilman Burns being able to keep his seat. What's the scoop?

Richard Furash, MBA said...

We received the following from one of our readers:

"In my opinion, the first objective is not "how" or "where", but "why". If our community can't come up with a justification for the objective, it goes on the shelf.

It can't be "gathering". Our Library already offers that; our park system already offers that. There are numerous exercise opportunities privately.
The Library offers discussion opportunities, art displays, historical information.

For myself, I answer the why with two words ( three actually ) that have been important to me and the community, Arts and Culture. So, if a center offers presentation opportunities with auditorium seating for musical, art, education and drama presentations that would satisfy a void in Oro Valley. If studios were included for rehearsal, training, study on music, painting, sculpture and other artistic values; a garden area for learning how to grow not only plants but organic foods. that makes sense to me.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

This will be reported Friday in Bits and Pieces. The posting will also be linked to the Daily Star Article.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

A community center works best, it seems, when it can be adapted as the community dictates over time. So, what is included in the center today is not necessarily what should be included in the center a year from now.

And, Steam Pump Ranch is a lovely setting.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Tucson has so many wonderful venues for musical and drama presentations. I worry that a local auditorium for the same would decrease attendance at those venues.