April 26, 2021-- Mike Ford, Southwest Director of Conservation Acquisition for The Conservation Fund (TCF), provided Preserve Vistoso board members an update on progress to purchase the Vistoso from Romspen Investments. Ford said that the Town of Oro Valley Attorney Jonathon Rothschild and Town Manager Mary Jacobs invited TCF to reengage in discussions for a purchase agreement with Romspen. Any deal is contingent on an appraisal of the property to establish Fair Market Value (FMV). Romspen attorney Pat Lopez agreed to contract for an updated appraisal
Ford said the deal being considered is for TCF to purchase the 202 acres zoned recreational at FMV and place a conservation easement on the property to protect it in perpetuity as open space. Terms of the deal including the purchase price and conservation easement language will be released publicly once the deal closes. The purpose of a conservation easement would be to define exactly what would be allowed and what would be prohibited. It would allow hiking trails, trail heads and parking areas, but ball parks and amphitheaters, for example, would not be allowed on the property.
In a separate agreement, the six acres where the former club house and parking lot exist, currently zoned high density residential, would be sold to a private developer. Any development of the property would be subject to all existing zoning constraints including building height limits of 35 feet. Ford said that the developer would be known to our community and the plans would be compatible with the 202 open space acres.
If the FMV offer is accepted by Romspen, TCF would hope to close the deal by year end. While TCF intends to eventually donate the property to the Town, TCF would also select a third party conservation land trust as a steward of the property to protect the natural habitat.
"This is great news for our community," said Gayle Mateer, President of Preserve Vistoso. “TCF has remained willing to re-engage in the process even after the initial offer to Romspen was rejected last September. Mike Ford's leadership and the Town of Oro Valley's support have made an agreement on the property a possibility. We are cautiously optimistic that Romspen will accept the deal and we can end our three-year nightmare of uncertainty about the property."