Monday, January 25, 2021

Parks and Recreation Master Plan Focuses on Facilities.... Will Cost "Plenty"

Setting the future direction is a huge undertaking for council
One of the most important decisions the Oro Valley Town Council will make this year is to define the future of Oro Valley’s Parks and Recreation system and program. They will also need to decide the timing of that future. To that end, the town is in the midst of a multi-year effort to develop a ten year master plan. The master planning process is in the concept planning stage. The focus of the concepts in on Oro Valley’s existing park and recreation facilities. 

Connectivity analysis in progress... Cost estimated at $10.3 million
The concepts do not yet include a “connectivity analysis” of the towns path and trail system. A paths and trails connectivity analysis was needed after residents identified trails and paths as a top need. This analysis is especially important now that the town is negotiating the purchase of the former Vistoso Golf property. The consultant to the town, Mike Svetz of Pros Consulting, told the town's Planning and Zoning Commission last week that he estimated the cost of the trail system to be $10.3 million.
Click to enlarge

Five draft facility "Concept Plans" that will cost $48 million
There are seven concept plans in progress. The panel at right includes five. These are the most relevant to those who use the town's park facilities.  Click on the panel to enlarge it. 

Community Center 
(Outside-$3 million. Inside $9 million)
  • Pickleball court expansion
  • tennis court upgrades
  • children's play area
  • Improved parking 
Steam Pump Ranch ($6 million)
  • New market space pavilion
  • new restroom with mural wall
  • new indoor market building
  • renovate and restore historic structures
Kreigh Park ($8 million including improvements to the aquatic center)
  • Use of the vacant land on the north of the property for small ramadas, a new playground, and a new off leash dog park
  • Convert squash courts to basketball courts
  • Sand volleyball court
Naranja Park ($17 million)
  • two added multi-use fields
  • basketball and pickleball courts
  • west walking archery courts
Riverfront Park ($4 million)
  • Upgraded lighting
  • Added basketball court replacing tennis court
  • splash pad
Public comments orchestrated for specific views
These plans replace the plans presented to council in November. They were changed after receiving a plethora of negative comment in three areas:
  1. Plan's don't do anything for Rancho Vistoso
  2. Plans don't include a walking archery course
  3. Town needs more youth fields
Most of the comments received in these areas were the same comment.

Total spending of more than $60 million
If things stay as they are now, the plan would call for the town to spend more than $60 million for these facilities. This should not happen all at once since this is a ten year plan. Thus, the timing of spending will be critical since the town has few funding options other than current revenue sources.

Four funding options
According to consultant Svetz, there are three sources that town's have used to fund parks and recreation investment. One are bonds. We believe that this option is "off the table" in Oro Valley. Voters have rejected bonding in the past because it results in a property tax. The most recent rejection of the option was just three years ago.  A robust citizen-led effort defeated the proposed bonding effort.

A second funding option is an earmarked sales sales tax. Oro Valley set up a earmarked 1/2 percent sales tax in 2016 to fund the community center. That added tax gives Oro Valley the the highest town sales tax in the area. The third option are grants. Oro Valley will use that option to purchase the former Vistoso Golf course. 

The fourth funding option is the one the town currently uses: Pay as you go. It is an option that has worked well so far as we noted in our posting last week on Naranja Park. As we noted then, that option also allows future generations to put their "stamp" on our parks system.