Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Heather's Corner: "What Has Happened To Oro Valley?"

Allow me to vent. I know a lot of the critics of the LOVE blog believe we are all retired old naysayers just looking for an opportunity to contradict whatever the majority four on Council suggest. I contribute regularly to this blog, am 38 years young, a mother of two children under five, and I believe the majority four have done a lot of good for the community.

I am also not against growth or expansion. I was raised in Silicon Valley and appreciate the value of diversity, high paying jobs, and housing options. My first Silicon Valley apartment, if you can call it that, was a converted attic in what is considered to be a very posh little town. My rent was $400.00 more than our current mortgage on our Oro Valley home. Down the road were subsidized apartments for those needing financial assistance. And up the road was a home listed for $11,000,000.00. I get it. But it was done in such a way that cohesively married all socio-economic levels because nothing stood out. Not mansion nor apartment complex. Not the 7-Eleven nor the boutiques.

But I have to ask: What is the vision for our quaint town of Oro Valley? I ask myself this every time I drive down Oracle Rd. from Linda Vista Blvd. to the Oro Valley Marketplace, which I have endearingly re-named "Apartment Row." I feel especially less than sentimental about the metamorphosis of our town as I pass the Jurassic mammoth apartments by 1st. Ave. I know this topic is a dead horse but aren't those in charge at all worried by these massive irreversible footprints scarring the look and feel of our town? Do they drive "The Row" and bask in the grandeur of these atrocities? I know there are so many other town issues at the forefront of their attention that these apartments are probably a distant memory, but was this the vision they had in mind? Do they drive by these goliaths on their way home or to the store or movies and say, 'Darn it, those look good!'?

I don't have a degree in architecture, city planning, or the like. All I have are my layman's eyes telling me "Apartment Row" is for lack of a better word, blatant. There is no subtlety amongst these giants. They are the most obvious of landmarks, to those unfamiliar with Oro Valley, on a major traveled road into our town, (with Oro Valley Marketplace and the hospital a close second and third but farther down the beaten path.) These apartments are to Oro Valley what the Golden Gate Bridge is to San Francisco, the Gateway Arch is to Missouri, and the Space Needle is to Seattle. Of course those of us that experience all that our great town has to offer, realize that Steam Pump Ranch, Catalina State Park, or even "The Tree of Knowledge," outside of our library, are several examples of our true and prideful landmarks. Unfortunately if you don't know they exist, you'll blink and miss them.

I have chosen to blindly trust those in charge that their vision for our town over the next five, ten, twenty years, are more advanced than what my uneducated eyes can conceive. That, and because the damage has already been done. And with that, time will tell. Until then I'll close with the words of my father-in-law, whom recently visited from Canada, after being away for some time, and viewed the apartments in their current state:

"What in the world happened here?"

Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

Heather Nenadovich has lived in Oro Valley a total of five years. She has a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Arizona. Her husband is Canadian so she is a hockey fan by default and so are her two very clever children. When not being a mommy, she enjoys hiking in Catalina State Park, hand building pottery, and gardening. Her favorite things about living in Oro Valley are the towns recognition of art and culture, their commitment to preserving nature and the Christmas parade. (Also anything from GMG Chinese Bistro.)

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