Reflecting on Oro Valley’s growth during the past year, Mayor Satish Hiremath left no one out as he honored the efforts and success of the town residents at the annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon.
Hiremath addressed an audience of 620 people on Sept. 26, where he highlighted areas of growth in roads and public safety, sports tourism, economic development, and public art.
The town’s growth is solely through the efforts of the community who has worked together to make Oro Valley a better place, according to Hiremath. He added that investing money into the right resources helps meet the different needs of the town.
“Growth is not a progression or an evolution where we begin as one thing and end up as something different,” said Hiremath. “It is not measured by just one or two anything’s. Healthy growth is a development and a maturation of a community.”
Throughout his speech, Hiremath used the analogy of a tree to represent the different levels of growth the town has experienced. Starting at the roots is the history of the town – dating back to its beginning by George Pusch in 1874 and it’s official founding as a town in 1974.
Hiremath gave a back-story of Oro Valley’s history and the growth from 1,200 people in 2.4 square miles to 41,000 in 36 square miles. Even as time has passed, the town preserves and keeps a part of history through the Steam Pump Ranch property – where touristic events occur along with the addition of the Farmer’s Market and Public Arts Tour. The town will celebrate its 40th anniversary on April 26, 2014 at the ranch.
Every 10 years the town develops a new vision for the town – a vision that is determined by members of the community. Moving into this next year, the town will launch its new vision of “Your Voice. Our Future.” Change is not always easy, but with staying true to the town’s core values it can grow, said Hiremath.
One of those core values is the town’s maintenance of roads and emphasis on public safety. In June of this year, the town partnered with the Pima Association of Governments and completed the Lambert Lane Widening Project. The once two-lane road has expanded to four lanes with the addition of public art and space to the bike lanes and sidewalks. As for public safety, the Arizona School Resource Officers Association recognized the Oro Valley Police Department as a model agency.
Hiremath also touched on the new Oro Valley website that will help streamline information about events and services to the residents.
“When roots are nourished, the core is strong, and lower branches are well developed, new growth can flourish,” said Hiremath. “The town has retained the core values and services which are a strong framework for our future.”
The town has already begun to flourish with its recent addition of 107 acres of land on the northwest corner of North Oracle and West Ina roads. The area will bring in extra money to the town, according to Hiremath.
A growth in the younger generation will also prove to be another source of revenue for the town. There is now an equal number of residents under the age of 18 as there are retirees. Because of the growth, the town has expanded its sports facilities by adding an Archery Range and a new Aquatic Center.
“Young people are a tremendous asset to Oro Valley, and we will continue seeking new ways to engage and support them in this community,” said Hiremath.
Oro Valley will continue to see growth in other areas as changes have been made to speed up the process of residential and commercial developments. In the 2012-2013 fiscal year there was a 285-percent increase in single-family resident permits and commercial permits. With a vision to see more economic development the town wants to focus on sports tourism – the most recent addition being the new Aquatic Center.
More than 3,800 athletes come to Tucson each year for either the USA Triathlon Duathlon Championships or the Arizona Distance Classic bringing in $1 million revenue for the town. Now with the new Aquatic Center, the town expects the sports facility to bring in an additional $2.2 million per year.
The focus on sports tourism has even shown in the retirement community where more opportunities have opened for residents to remain active through sports or volunteering. Hiremath also touched on the growth in arts and culture, which has installed more than 250 public art projects.
Hiremath ended the luncheon with reminding the town of last year’s tagline: It’s in our nature. Through that vision the town has been successful in marketing and branding the name of Oro Valley. This is important because 50 percent of the general fund is from sales taxes, said Hiremath.
Because the town wants to move forward in increasing sports tourism, the town has launched its new campaign for this year called Play OV/Stay OV – making Oro Valley your destination.
With a successful $1.7 million surplus from last years 2012-2013 fiscal year, the members of the town look forward to the future growth and success of Oro Valley.