- Your Voice
Marana Mayor Ed Honea doesn’t care if the state balances its budget (Explorer Feb. 21). I (and a lot of others) do care that the state has a balanced budget, and not by me (or us) paying higher fees and taxes to the state that then get cycled back to Marana. Nor am I (or we) interested in paying higher costs for goods that result from higher business fees and taxes paid to the state cycling that money back to Marana.
With two zoning code changes to two separate locations, the undeveloped properties on the east side of First Avenue in Oro Valley are soon going to be built upon.
The Town of Oro Valley is at a crossroads. We have the opportunity to purchase 324 acres of land in the heart of our community, a 31,475-square-foot building which could be converted into a community and recreation center, 31 tennis courts, 45 holes of golf and two swimming pools, all for $1 million in cash over a three-year period.
“It was so easy to get these signatures,” “disrespect of the voices of the residents” and “lost confidence and trust” were just a few of the things said in Oro Valley last Wednesday.
HSL Properties President Humberto S. Lopez recently spoke at the Greater Oro Valley Chamber’s breakfast. He commented on the sale of the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club to the Town of Oro Valley. Lopez stated that he is willing to hold the $1 million offer until May if Oro Valley goes through a referendum process.
While Marana and Oro Valley officials say they like the energy and the basics of Gov. Doug Ducey’s message, they worry the budget lacks new taxes and takes from education and local municipalities.
It’s no secret that the first impression is often the one that leaves the lasting impression. For Tucson, scenery around the airport has left many worried about the first impression the town is giving visitors who are coming to the region for business and pleasure.
After a verbal kerfuffle between Mayor Satish Hiremath and Councilman Brendan Burns during the Jan. 7 council meeting, Hiremath called for a three-minute recess “until councilman Burns can actually control himself.”
Upset with the rushed deadlines and lack of transparency in the proposed country club purchase, I had an email exchange with Councilman Joe Hornat just prior to the Dec. 17 meeting. When asked why on earth the town would want to get into a declining industry like the golf course business, Mr. Hornat replied “we don’t want to be in the golf business and that is why we will be hiring Troon to do that.” Really? If the town owns a golf club, it is in the golf course business. Period. And by extension, so are all Oro Valley residents, like it or not.
The El Conquistador golf courses and environs could potentially have seen some redevelopment had a private buyer have stepped in instead of the Town of Oro Valley— but the town’s zoning shows there’d be hoops to jump through, and a key line in the property’s appraisal shows that redevelopment of at least some the fairways wouldn’t be legal.
From the back of a packed Oro Valley Town Council chambers, near the doors ordered open by the town fire marshal, one of the many skeptics of the town’s proposal to purchase the Hilton El Conquistador’s country club couldn’t contain his irritation.
Lord Mayor Satish Hiremath opened his chambers on Dec. 17 as required by law to allow citizens to observe Council’s passage of the tax increase and planned purchase of El Conquistador Country Club. The Chambers were filled to capacity and beyond (SRO) and citizens (subjects) were permitted to approach the bench and make their points to his honor. Thirty-nine of us were allowed to speak, however, a much lower number was actually heard, for, you see, the deal was already done. His ruling majority had apparently decided the outcome as soon as the public was made aware that the transaction was proposed and no further input was really required. Such is the nature of Oro Valley governance under the current Town Council. It is sad when a deal of this magnitude is decided with little to no taxpayer input.
I attended the Oro Valley Town Council meeting last night and was dismayed that Mayor Hiremath seems to think he is King. He and he alone negotiated an agreement to adhere to “confidentiality” commitments so that the public could not know the “real” amounts from “secret deals”. I have not heard so much hubris from a politician since Gruber admitted that Obamacare had to be kept “secret” in order to pass it. Otherwise, the stupid (yes Gruber called the voters stupid) voters would never allow it to pass.
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath explains to the people attending last week’s council meeting how he was not going to tolerate booing or cheering, urging attendees to have a civilized and factual discussion.
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath, left, Vice Mayor Lou Waters, and Councilwoman Mary Snider listen to a resident speak his opinion about what he feels the council should do with the Hilton El Conquistador property. Those members of the council and Councilman Joe Hornat voted in favor of purchasing the property, which passed 4-3.
Oro Valley residents who oppose the Town Council’s recent decision to purchase the El Conquistador country club and golf facilities for a town community center have filed an application for a referendum petition, potentially allowing local voters to ultimately decide.
A group of students at Copper Creek Elementary School gave the OK sign letting everyone know they were ready, then, within a few seconds, they were transported underwater with a scuba diver at the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium in Australia.
The Oro Valley Town Council will vote tonight (Dec. 17) on whether to purchase the golf and other recreational amenities of the El Conquistador resort, spending $1 million to acquire the property and committing to a half-cent sales tax increase for improvements and its continued operations.
It’s going to only take one of the current majority to do the right thing and vote to table, or against, the proposed golf course purchase and sales tax increase tonight (Dec. 17). It’s going to take one of the majority, consisting of Mayor Satish Hiremath, Councilman Joe Hornat, Councilwoman Mary Snider or Vice Mayor Lou Waters, to say no to this ill-advised, badly-planned prospect.
After reading the Explorer this past week, I was absolutely shocked to learn about the upcoming vote by our city council to purchase the El Conquistador Golf Club. I don’t know what our city council is thinking but obviously they are totally oblivious to all the golf clubs across the country having financial difficulties and that includes Arizona and Oro Valley. Might I point out the financial distress for The Gallery, Stone Canyon, Vistoso, Oro Valley CC - and the list goes on and on? And why the secrecy and rush to purchase? It was stated that a survey of 500 people (really? only 500 people in the entire city of Oro Valley?) indicated a desire for a “community center”. Who are these 500 people? Where do they live? For something this important, a survey of the entire city should have been taken.
With the election results a distant memory, the Mayor and re-elected members of the City Council have secretly made the decision to purchase for $1,000,000, the money losing entities of El Conquistador. Under the secret negotiations, the Town would purchase 45 holes of golf, two swimming pools, 31 tennis courts, a restaurant, and a building it will convert to a community center. The community center will house, among other things, exercise equipment that will help to decrease the revenue and taxes of such businesses as L.A. Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness and other fitness companies in favor of a non-taxpaying entity. Will Oro Valley also get into the restaurant management business? The Mayor indicates the golf course will lose money at first—$1,000,000 to $1,300,000 in the first year but he expects it will become a money maker in a few years. Of course that is pure speculation. The Mayor’s finance people indicate all of the repairs and upgrades will cost no more than $1,500,000 even though members of the existing club’s Grounds Committee provide information that the upgrades will cost between $6,000,000 and $10,000,000 with an additional $400,000 needed to restore the cart paths. We should also remember that the way to finance this boondoggle is an increase in the sales tax for Oro Valley businesses. Wasn’t it Mayor Hiremath who indicated in his re-election campaign rhetoric he was going to put effort into increasing the number of retail businesses in Oro Valley? These are the same businesses that could lose market share because it would cost less to make a major purchase in Tucson, Oracle, etc. to the detriment of Oro Valley businesses. Why shop in Oro Valley if a short distance away, we can save our hard earned money by paying less sales tax?
Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremath and Councilwoman Mary Snider speak to Dubbo, Aus. Mayor Mathew Dickerson.
Mayor Hiremath, Council Members Waters, Snider, and Hornat have all just been re-elected to the town council by wide margins. This is the same group that, during their first term, doubled the Utility tax. Now they are proposing to buy the El Conquistador Country Club and raise the Town’s sales tax to pay for it. We all agree that Oro Valley needs a community center, but we do not agree on whether or not we need to rush into making a commitment that not all desire.
Fiscal hawks on the Oro Valley Town Council gave another presentation about the police department’s spending, but without visual aids to show the audience.
The Oro Valley Marketplace was set alight with the bright faces of hundreds of children and their parents, each anticipating the arrival of the big man in red himself.