What to do with town site - The Explorer: Editorials

What to do with town site

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Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2009 12:00 am | Updated: 1:27 pm, Mon Apr 18, 2011.

Thinking caps are recommended Wednesday night, when the Oro Valley Town Council, staff and others talk about what to do next with the Naranja Town Site.

Recall that a $48.6 million bond issue to build a showcase park at centrally located Naranja was defeated by the voters in November. The majority decided it was too much money, too much of an obligation against property taxpayers, and perhaps too much park for these times.

(As an aside, here’s an interesting, still-debatable question about the November vote: Were voters against any sort of park, or just this particular scale?)

Oro Valley government purchased the 213-acre parcel in two transactions totaling $3.45 million. It has also spent in the neighborhood of $759,000 to create a design for the park. But, for right now, there’s no money to build it. Oro Valley owns a former gravel pit close to the community’s center. And it’s time to think about, and talk about, what to do next.

The options are many, and all should be examined.

Park development could be undertaken in tandem with the Amphitheater School District, or another governmental entity that would make use of the space. Does the school district have space needs that could be met at Naranja? It’s worth asking the questions.

Governments need to remember that taxpayers want multiple uses for their investments. A park, for example, might be well used for school sports and activities. It makes little difference to the public which pocket yields the cash – it’s all the people’s money.

Private sources could be pursued to build a park and related facilities. There are many people of means who care about Oro Valley, and would commit money toward its evolution.

A park could be developed in phases, stretched out over a period of years, and somehow funded. Oro Valley, like other governments in greater Tucson and across the country, has its eye on a possible $750 billion (!!) in federal money for infrastructure, the New Deal-ish sort of public project proposal that President-elect Barack Obama and the Congress just might be able to pull off in stormy 2009.

It doesn’t hurt to ask. Oro Valley is asking.

Or maybe Naranja’s highest and best use is not a park.

Maybe it should be used for administrative or storage buildings, or training facilities. It’s been done many times across the country.

The community could sell the parcel for development, recouping at least part of its investment.

Or Oro Valley could look in a new direction. Is there a community centerpiece suitable for the site? There’s been mention of a recreational lake, an ice skating rink, even an aquarium. Big thoughts, all … and this is the time for big thoughts.

In September, who among you thought the Arizona Cardinals would be hosting the National Football Conference championship game this Sunday, with a chance to go to the Super Bowl? Come to think of it, who among you thought as much a month ago?

Sunday’s game with Philadelphia at University of Phoenix Stadium is one of Arizona’s biggest-ever sporting events. It’s implausible and exciting, even for the casual fan.

May the roof be open — Philly might not be able to handle nice weather.

Go Cards.

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