Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Guest View-Diane Peters: Why You Should Sign The Tee’d Off In Oro Valley Petition (Part 1)

Oro Valley Resident Diane Peters shares her view in this first of a three-part posting on why she believes residents should sign the petition that allow you to vote on the town's purchase of The El Conquistador Country Club:
Reason #1: The El Con deal is a great deal for HSL Properties – not for Oro Valley.
 The deal was negotiated behind closed doors between Mayor Hiremath and HSL Properties (who contributed thousands of dollars to his re-election campaign.) The $1 million price-tag is more like a down payment as an additional $12 million in revenue losses, repairs, and upgrades is projected/planned for the next 5-10 years.

Reason #2: The decision was rushed and there was a lack of transparency. 
The acquisition was decided by a divided Council (4-3 vote) with only two weeks notice to the citizens. The council was clearly not afforded the appropriate time for due diligence as some pertinent documents were given to Council only a couple of hours before the meeting.

Reason #3: The contract was negotiated between Troon and HSL, not between Troon and the Town of OV.
The Council did not see the contract (which will be assumed by the Town upon purchase) until 6 days after the vote!

The council voted to approve this deal without ever seeing the contract!

Reason #4: The Troon contract was drafted on December 15th meaning it could have been made available for the council to inspect prior to the Dec. 17th vote. The contract could have been and should have been shown to the council but it wasn’t. Why?

Reason #5: A sales tax increase without public input is wrong.
Mayor Hiremath dictated to the citizens where the community center would be located, what it would contain, how much it would cost, and how we would pay for it (with an increase in our sales tax from 2% to 2.5%). The community center is supposed to be for the citizens, but the citizens were not allowed to have any input. In fact, a Town survey conducted in June 2014 revealed that a sales tax increase was the residents’ last choice for funding Parks and Recreation facilities.

Reason #6: A 2014 survey of residents revealed the top ten amenities that residents wanted. The list does not include tennis courts, pools, or golf courses.

According to this survey, 56% to 82% of respondents want the following in a Community Center:
  1. playgrounds
  2. ramadas and picnic areas
  3. paved walking paths
  4. Little League baseball fields
  5. indoor racquetball and basketball
  6. multi-sport fields for soccer, lacrosse
  7. youth softball fields
  8. rooms for aerobics and yoga
  9. natural surface trails
  10. outdoor basketball courts.
Where are the requests for tennis courts, pools, and golf courses? Of the 34 items listed on the survey, tennis came in at #11, golf came in at #33, and a pool was not mentioned at all. Yet the El Con deal includes 31 tennis courts, three golf courses, and two pools.

How can Mayor Hiremath claim that he’s doing this for the citizens when this isn’t what the citizens requested?

Tomorrow, in part 2, I will discuss the concerns of residents living along the golf course.
Diane Peters has lived in Oro Valley since 2003, moving here to escape the humidity of the East Coast. Combining her love of animals and writing, she wrote her first protest letter at the age of 12 to the Canadian Prime Minister in support of ending the annual baby harp seal hunt. Years later, she flew by helicopter to the ice floes off the coast of Newfoundland to photograph baby harp seals. Her other interests include reading, nature photography, traveling to National Parks, Native American history, art galleries, museums, and politics. In her past life, she worked at various University Hospitals in New England assisting in Oncology Clinical Trials and preparing manuscripts for publication in medical journals. Her husband is an Army veteran who served in Germany and South Korea. A former hippie, he attended the 1969 Woodstock Festival.


Richard Furash, MBA said...

Clearly someone has done her homework on this issue! Thanks for sharing your concerns, Diane. I look forward to the remainder of this series. Tooth has several petition signing locations in OV. Dates & times are updated frequently at our website: It's a non-partisan issue & we look forward to securing many additional signatures before submission on the 15th. The opposing Councilmembers are hosting their own "townhall" on Sun from 1-3 at the OV library for those with questions about the El Con deal or other matters involving the Town. Petitions will also be available then.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Just curious if there is a community center of any type for this town that either Diane or Shirl would support.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

I'm sure we could build one from scratch that doesn't include stuff that people don't want! Personally, I'd like an INDOOR pool for winter use, not more outdoor pool that are unusable for half the year.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

AZsheeplady, I'm sure many, many people have no interest in an indoor pool. But you do. I don't say it's wrong that you want that.

At the same time, it's not fair to assume that this center includes "stuff people don't want." (People may not want your indoor pool.). The goal of any community center should be to offer a wide range of facilities and activities to meet the needs of the community.

I am just curious if the people pushing the referendum like Diane and Shirl would want a community center of any sort.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

But is IS fair to assume that this community center includes "stuff people don't want." The town's own survey revealed that golf came in #33 out of 34 items on the wish list and a pool was not mentioned at all. This is clearly "stuff people don't want" and yet they are demanding that we pay for it.

I don't care one way or another if we have a community center but inasmuch as this is a want vs. a need, if we are going to have one, then logically it should contain what the people want.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

When has Oro Valley EVER listened to its residents? Council goes and does what the hell it wants and charges us anyway. Here I am stuck with a so-called "12-foot wall" that the renters of single family homes in my neighborhood likely voted in (since I had polled owners a couple years ago and did not get a majority vote) and is being built 20-ft high because of ground they regraded to be 4 ft. taller that it was before! I'm sick of OV doing as they damned well please, including the crematorium that didn't need to be by my home or the tax-free arrangement with Vespa for the OV marketplace. I'd prefer funds spent on bus service that runs from Catalina along Oracle Road to connect to Ina where the regular bus service begins, a community center that supports kids and the aged's activities, not what we already have access to: golf and pools. How do they continue to get away with ramrodding us with their whims and sending us the bill? I just don't get it.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Gotta love the "no birds". - From my short time monitoring this blog I am not sure there is even one town improvement they would agree to. I still stand on my last posting on the subject. Moving forward on the community center initiative is much better than standing on the sidelines waiting on a consensus opinion from a public which can probably never be decisive on any issue. We elected this council to govern and if we disagree with their decisions then remove them from office. Otherwise, we end up represented by a do nothing "mother voter - may I?" council who seeks public approval of every action and nothing ever gets done. Bottom Line -- the EL CON facility, even with out the golf course operation, will provide an instant set of fully developed community center/youth center solutions that will take years to develop otherwise, and is a sure win-win situation for the community.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Buckeyeduffer, thanks for your clear, reasonable comment. I doubt there is a community center in any form that the naysayers would want.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

And you'd be wrong. Allow me to repeat my response to "Fact Check." ~~ I don't care one way or another if we have a community center, but inasmuch as this is a want vs. a need, if we are going to have one, then logically it should contain what the people want.

Now instead of simplistic responses, just calling us naysayers, if you're so sure that you're right and we're wrong, why don't you debate the points presented in the article?

Richard Furash, MBA said...

As I have collected petition signatures from residents in Sun City Oro Valley and the Rancho Vistoso area, I have heard so often the willingness to pay the sales tax increase of $.005 or even more for a community center in Oro Valley built to meet the identified needs. The 21,000 SF that would be available in the 30-year-old El Conquistador Clubhouse is an unacceptable alternative. Those needs were identified by the Town's own Park & Rec Board and contributed to even their disapproval of the purchase.

I am hopeful that a referendum will allow Oro Valley voters, Town staff and Council members the time and opportunity to take a step back to reconsider what is best to meet Oro Valley's long-term needs. Sadly, the spirit of Your Voice, Our Future has been lost in less than 30 days.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

This is the table from the Oro Valley Town survey that discusses what people way they want in our community.