Many of our readers have asked us questions regarding the acquisition of the property. Rather than guessing the answers, we posed the questions to Mayor Hiremath. He was kind enough to respond quickly.
Here are the questions and his response to each:
- How did Oro Valley Come upon the opportunity to purchase this property? This idea was spurred during discussions with some potential purchasers of the hotel (that purchase opportunity ultimately fell through).
- Why do you believe that this is the right thing for the community to do? This provides a very unique opportunity for the Town to acquire a turn-key operation that will serve as the Community and Recreation Center. Recent community survey results have indicated that the majority of our residents are interested in having a community center. Additionally, the Golf and Tennis fit into our strategy of youth and amateur events.
- Why doesn’t the town purchase the property directly from Met Life? We explored that opportunity and they wanted a higher purchase price.
- Do you believe that the general decline in interest in golf has bottomed out as Greg Caton does? Yes. A lot of golf courses are in transition and investors are seeing the growth potential in this industry.
- Do you believe that it is not necessary for council to get public input on this transaction? If so, why? We are currently receiving a lot of public input regarding this potential. Residents are welcome to submit their thoughts and ideas through Constituent Services, where it will be tracked, answered (if appropriate) and ultimately shared with Council.
- Why does the town need to raise the sales tax to finance this? Why not bond it? A bond is a loan. We need additional revenue to pay for the capital improvements. Additionally, there are operational shortfalls, which require an additional revenue stream. You can’t pay for operational short-falls with a bond (or loan).
- Why must the council make a decision on December 17? In other words, whey the rush? The new purchasers are looking to sell the property shortly after their acquisition, so that is driving the timing. We had completed extensive due diligence, and that information will be presented over the coming weeks. I believe we have all the information needed to make an informed decision.
- Why should the town, subsidizes sports such as golf that most of us don’t play or plan to play? Communities offer a wide-range of recreational opportunities that fit the needs and desires of a diverse community. We all benefit from a diversity of offerings. For example, I personally may not utilize our parks; however, I still receive benefit from a community that offers park amenities. I believe you utilize our trail system and some residents don’t. So, the residents who golf, but don’t use the trail, might ask why should we build trails when they don’t use them. Again, it is our responsibility to offer a wide range of parks and recreational opportunities.
- Why doesn’t the town sell the golf course to a third party? The facility operates as one unit, so that is the way we are approaching the acquisition and the operations. After a few years, the golf course will be a profitable asset. So, I believe long term this will be in the best interest of the community to maintain control and ownership.
- If Hilton cannot market the hotel with its courses and tennis courts, why does the town think that Oro Valley can successfully promote golf and tennis? We are contracting with a company (Troon) which focuses on golf, tennis and fitness (although we will operate the fitness portion). They are experts in the business, and with the capital improvements we have planned, will move the facility to an improved position in the market.
HSL Management is purchasing the property from MetLife. The town is purchasing the property from HSL Management. HSL Management contributed funds to Mayor Hiremath's PAC. We respectfully asked the Mayor if he felt there was a conflict of interest. Though we did not expect him to respond, he did.
"I believe this project will be in the best interest of the community and I will base my decision with that perspective in mind. There were a variety, and numerous, contributors to my campaign over both election cycles, each that have a passion and interest in their respective areas. The implication that campaign contributions are a factor in my decision making is ludicrous"Once again, thank you Mayor Hiremath for answering your questions.
Oro Valley has a web page that provides facts about the proposed community and recreation center.
If you have other questions, we encourage you to write to Oro Valley constituent services.
Finally, we invested our time in visiting the facility. Here is a link to the pictures.
Our thanks to the Hilton Hotels and Resorts for our tour of the La Canada facility.