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Posted: Wednesday, March 5, 2003 12:00 am

Operation and maintenance costs alone for Oro Valley's proposed 213-acre Naranja Town Site at West Naranja Drive between North La Canada Drive and North First Avenue are expected to add at least $6.5 million a year to the $53 million it is estimated it will take to build the park over a five-year period.

The estimates, presented to the town Budget and Bond Committee Feb. 18, are based on the town's experience in providing similar facilities and the experience of recreation departments and performing arts organizations throughout Arizona, Colorado and Missouri.

The estimates cover four areas:

A proposed 80,000 square-foot community center is expected to cost $1.6 million annually to run, or about $20 a square foot, compared with an average of $16.38 a square foot for other centers in Arizona and $21.60 a square foot for out-of-state community centers.

A proposed 2,000 seat performing arts center is expected to cost about $2 million a year to run, based on per seat costs of corresponding Tucson venues, and would include offices, classrooms and meeting rooms.

A proposed 2,500-seat outdoor amphitheater that includes 2,500 seats under cover and additional seating in grassy areas is estimated to cost about $1.25 million a year.

Outdoor recreation and open space at the site is expected to cost about $1.7 million a year to manage. The estimate is based on 40 percent of the park being used for active recreation such as ball fields, playgrounds, courts and picnic areas and 60 percent for passive recreation such as hiking trails and natural desert.

In a staff report to the committee the cursory nature of the figures is emphasized.

"Stantec (consultants to the town on the Naranja project) and staff are comfortable that the estimates for specific recreational features such as ball fields, courts, ramadas and playground equipment are sound, with a low margin of error," Community Development Director Brent Sinclair and Parks and Recreation Administrator Ainsley Anne Reeder noted in a Jan. 21 memo to Finance Director David Andrews.

However, "features with an increased probability for error are large buildings -- the community center, aquatic facilities, the performing arts center and the amphitheater. These facilities were priced at $125 per square foot, which is equivalent to the costs experienced at the new Oro Valley Public Library," the memo said.

"Naranja's facilities could be built today at the estimated cost, however, none of the buildings have gone through the formal programming and planning stage to determine what features will be included and at what quality.

"The actual cost on each building could be increased if decisions were made to build more elaborate or higher quality facilities. Additionally, architecture and design features will have a bearing on the price tag."

A final programming and planning phase must be completed to determine what the facilities will do, how much space will be allocated for each activity and the equipment to be used, according to the memo, which also recommends that a professional estimator be retained to provide solid figures for construction.

The memo also outlines an "aggressive" five-year $53 million construction schedule that assumes funds have been secured for all the facilities in the master plan. At the same time the memo describes the schedule as "probably too aggressive from a management standpoint."

Based on the suggested construction schedule, in the first year the town would spend $3 million for engineering and architectural construction plans, site preparation, soil studies and plant salvage. In the second and third years, the town would spend $20 million for architectural construction plans for major facilities, earthwork, major utilities, driveways, parking, natural and hard surface trails, site furnishings and amenities, par course stations, pad development for buildings and facilities, ball fields and recreational features, including playgrounds, dog park, athletic courts, tennis center, stand alone restrooms, concession stands, a skate park, BMX park and maintenance support buildings.

In the final phase, years four and five, $30 million would be spent on construction of major facilities and ancillary uses, including the community center, performing arts center, amphitheater and aquatic center.

The cost estimates exclude any town buildings on the site. The town wants to build a 11,000 square-foot, two-story community center on 2.3 acres to house its Public Works Department and Water Utility administrative staffs; operations and maintenance quarters in three two-story buildings totaling 38,000 square feet on 7.8 acres; and a Police Department training center in a 20,000 square-foot building on three acres.

In response to opposition to placing those buildings on the site, the Town Council has directed staff to seek out alternative sites and come up with estimates of what it would cost to purchase the land on which those buildings would be located.

Funding sources also are being explored by the committee which is scheduled to present its findings to the council late this month or early April.

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