Monday, April 6, 2015

Oro Valley's "Big Spend"

UPDATE: 9pm Tuesday, April 7
Subsequent to posting this article. we received an email from Oro Valley Town Communications Direct Misti Nowak, regarding the accuracy of some portions of this report.

Misti provided the following correction to our numbers in the panel below.
  • Naranja Park Plan  $31.0 (you have it correct) 
  • Already Invested       2.3 
  • OV Aquatic Center    5.0 
  • El Con/Comm Ctr     5.5 (for five-year projections) 
The total is $41.3 million which is less than the 2008 plan number.

Also, there was a sub-header stating that the event center was a last-minute addition to the plan. The event center was actually discussed in Fall 2014 and was adopted by the Parks and Recreation Commission as part of the Naranja Park Master Plan in December.
The Report

The Oro Valley Town Council, last week, approved the Naranja Park Plan on a 5-2 vote. The approval did not include approval of funding for the project, which could be upwards of $31 million.

In February, we reported what is included in the park You can watch our video (below) of the town site's plans through the years to look at the latest and previous layouts.

This is not Oro Valley's first rodeo with Naranja Park Planning

The 2008 Naranja Park plan was the dream of then mayor Paul Loomis. The plan was put to vote of the people because Loomis' plan was to be financed by a secondary property tax. Only the voters can approve a property tax.

Voters rejected the 2008 plan by a 60:40 margin.  Oro Valley residents did not want a secondary property tax to fund a $48.6 million initial phase expenditure. (The total cost of the site was $154 million.)

Two years later, voters reiterated this to Mayor Loomis. Loomis did not survive the primary in 2010, though he had been the incumbent for many years.

Total cost now is $51.5 Million versus $48.6 Million Then

As one of the meeting's attendees was quick to point out: "We're going to spend more than the amount of money the voters refused to spend in 2008."

The 2008 plan, like a plan that was developed in 2001, had everything centered in one park.

Instead of that, Oro Valley will bring together three facilities to accomplish what would have been done had the vote passed in 2008.

The town has "cobbled together" a rebuilt aquatic center located on Concordia; a to-be rebuilt community center/golf course located on La Canada; and the Naranja town consolidated activity site which is now called a park.

The total estimated cost of all of these three facilities is $51.5 million. This is greater than the $48.6 million to finance the 2008 plan.

Four Sources Likely To Fund Facility Acquisition or Construction

The council majority has stayed away from any talk of a property tax to fund the construction or acquisition of these facilities. Instead, they have "cobbled together" several funding sources.

Funding for all the construction of these facilities has or will likely come from bed tax revenues, a sales tax increase, hoped for Pima County bond money and the Oro Valley contingency reserves.

At issue: An event center that was a last-minute addition to the plan
The key issue at the council meetings was an event center which is in the plan. It looks much like a community center.

We discussed the event center with former Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Jack Stinnett. According to Stinnett, the event center that is now shown in the plan was not included in any plan for the park until just prior to the announcement of the El Conquistador Country Club purchase and the town's planned conversion of the clubhouse to a community center.

Council Member Zinkin voted against the Naranja Park Plan because he felt that the insertion of an event center at the last minute was simply not based on town need. Zinkin feels that the real need is for green fields with lights for athletics.

"Town surveys of our residents have shown that things like a splash pad, a skate board park, an event center, and a performance area are simply not the priorities of our people."

Watch the plan presentation to learn more
Want to lear more about the plan and what is included in the park?  The plan was prepared by McGann and Associates, landscape architects and planers. They are located on Oracle Road.

You can view the presentation that Don McGann, company principal, made to council to get a complete view of the facility and the rationale for why each item is included.

Please let us know what you think of this plan.

No comments: