Council explores options for park site - The Explorer: Pima Pinal

Council explores options for park site

Voters rejected bond question that would have levied tax

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Posted: Wednesday, January 21, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:28 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

The Oro Valley Town Council met last Wednesday night to discuss the future of the 213-acre town-owned Naranja Town Site.

The property, on Naranja Drive between La Cañada Drive and First Avenue, was the subject of a failed bond election last November.

Voters were asked to approve a $48.6-million bond package that would have financed the construction of the proposed park and allowed the town to levy a secondary property tax to pay for it.

With 57 percent opposed, the measure failed.

At the Jan. 14 meeting — a non-voting study session — town council members discussed numerous options for the property, including: seeking partnerships with other governments or organizations to develop the park without a property tax; pursuing a second bond election; finding alternative uses for the property; selling parts or all the land for private development; building the park as proposed, but in stages over several years; or doing nothing.

Council Member Bill Garner, however, offered yet another proposal.

Garner’s concept included dividing the property, reserving the northern portion for commercial development and utilizing the southern end for a smaller park complex.

Under that proposal, the town would sell roughly 100 acres of the property to developers with the intent that it would expand the town’s burgeoning bio-medical sector.

“We’re running out of space for those projects,” Garner said.

Any sale of town-owned properties worth more than $500,000 would require voter approval, Town Attorney Tobin Rosen told the council.

Mayor Paul Loomis questioned the possibility of allowing industrial development in the midst of a densely packed residential section of town.

Several residents also raised concerns about the future of the property.

Some noted that the assumptions that led to the park master plan might not apply today or in the future.

One resident suggested the town initiate a process to gather public input about the Naranja Town Site and move toward a new plan for the property.

In 2001, the town began a similar process when it formed the Naranja Town Site Task Force, a group of citizens and town representatives who met dozens of times that year. The group devised a park master plan, which served the blueprint for last November’s failed bond question.

The council made no decision on the issue but likely will schedule additional study sessions to parse the details.

COUNCIL WEIGHS LIBRARY OPTIONS

Also discussed was the intergovernmental agreement between the town and Pima County for operation of the Oro Valley Public Library.

Under the terms of the current agreement, initiated in 2002, the town operates the library as an affiliate of the county library system.

The agreement will expire in 2012.

The agreement also spells out a cost-sharing plan for the library’s operations, with the county reimbursing the town for roughly half the operating costs.

The council made not decision on the issue last week. It likely will revisit the matter at a future meeting.

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