A week ago, members of the public wound their way through the crowd of parents and children at Wilson School’s fine arts night, eventually finding an Oro Valley open house regarding the Naranja Town Site park proposal.
There’s some irony in the juxtaposition of these events. Arguably, the families at Wilson School, and families throughout Oro Valley, would be the most direct beneficiaries of the Naranja development.
Young families are likely convinced this park is a great idea. The challenge for proponents is to convince the rest of Oro Valley property owners that they should part with up to $48.6 million over the next 25 years to repay bonds that would build the park.
This is not a time to opine on the merits of the proposal. Rather, it is a time to acknowledge the transparency of the process.
Nobody’s trying to pull wool over anyone’s eyes. Naranja Town Site is not a smoky back-room deal. No one’s trying to pull a fast one. To end cliché, it must be said that Oro Valley is being up-front and visible about what the park would be, how it would be paid for, and what it would cost to operate. There have been dozens of meetings, thousands of public comments, and now, informational sessions with documented data for the people who want to learn more. There are frequently asked questions, and answers. There are contact names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, and of course a Web site, www.naranjatownsite.com.
More open houses are forthcoming, including one May 14 in Sun City, at a time to be announced, and a May 29 breakfast presentation for the Northern Pima County Chamber of Commerce. People can arrange meetings, too.
A cursory review of plans shows that the Naranja Town Site park proposal is of high quality, the caliber of facility Oro Valley citizens should expect.
Baseball and softball fields with night sky-respectful lights, batting cages, a festival area and children’s playground, a dog park with division for large and small breeds, a dog training area, a nature center, volleyball, basketball, tennis, sand volleyball and tetherball courts, soccer fields, nature trails, a skate park, an off-road bicycle track, picnic grounds, horseshoe pits … the proposal has many things for all people, with the parking, restroom, landscaping and other infrastructure to support it.
The question is simple enough: Do the people of Oro Valley want this park, and want it enough to tax their property for the repayment of bonds?
According to a secondary property tax calculation sheet provided by the town, the estimated tax to repay Naranja Town Site bonds on a home with market value of $300,000 — near the Northwest’s median house price — would be up to $10.20 a month, or $122.40 a year. On a home worth $700,000, the estimated tax would be $23.80 a month, or $285.60 per year.
Those sums are not high. Nor are they nothing. The question, ultimately, is whether voters think the costs are worthwhile.
They’ll decide on Nov. 4, general election day, a day that promises to be of great voter turnout, with the likelihood of an Arizonan and either the first woman or first African-American candidate on the presidential ballot.
High turnout can be a threat to bond elections. Those who support the Naranja bond issue should be certain to turn out, because, for other reasons, bond issue opponents will already be at the polls.
Regardless of outcome, regardless of support or opposition, everyone who casts a ballot has real opportunity to learn the details of the proposal. For such openness, Oro Valley government, its council and staff, deserve credit.