Wednesday, March 15, 2023

What is the Vistoso Trails Nature Preserve Going To Cost Oro Valley?

Council to study latest master plan design options for Vistoso Trails tonight
Tonight, Parks and Recreation Department Director Kristy Diaz-Trahan and outside consultant Southwest Sites LLC will present the latest version of a master plan for converting the former Vistoso Course into Vistoso Trails. The plan discusses many options... but it does not discuss the costs of each.

Four areas of planing...from "simple" to complex
The draft plan is segmented into four areas: Trails; driving range node; pond options and and educational program. There are four trail options. The simplest and the one most consistent with the legal requirements of the Conservation Easement on the property is Option A [panel below-right]. That option essentially restores existing paths. It also adds a special ADA accessibility area. The driving range node would be converted into an education area. There are three, we suspect, rather expensive options to do something with the dry pond on the course. Two of these would convert it to a wetland. There is no option for filling in the concrete pond and revegetating it. This would restore the property to its natural state. It would also be the least costly alternative to be built and maintained.

Revegetation needed now
While all this planning has been happening, non native plant species have continued to invade the land. This invasion has been exacerbated by the heavy rain season. The proposed implementation puts revegetation in the first two phases of a proposed four stage plan.

Many residents are not happy
The consultant has worked with the community to develop the options. The public has made it clear during this process that they want the Preserve to be "simple and natural."  However, what they and the Parks and Recreation Commission saw in February was anything but simple.  As we reported, the residents who spoke at the meeting were those who are directly impacted because they live adjacent to the course. They are concerned that the former golf course will become an amusement park, that there will be too many paths, and that they will lose their privacy.

ALERT: These plans fail to consider the costs
The plans were presented to that Parks and Recreation Commission in February. That presentation did not include an estimate of cost.  It is not reasonable to consider options without knowing what it will cost to complete each and what it will cost to maintain it. Just revegetating the 202 acres will be very costly as will be the cost of restoring the paths. Hopefully, this Council will insist on knowing these costs before allowing discussions on this to proceed further.