In a special worksession on June 24, the Marana Town Council discussed building a new police station, the Heritage Park Arena and a new water/sewer system.
New Water System
The council backed a plan to use impact fee funds to support the development of a new water system on Tangerine Road, east of Interstate10. The hope was this development would aid future development along the Tangerine Road corridor.
John Kmiec, the town’s utilities director, said there have been discussions with Tangerine Business Park and the Marana Technology Campus to share in the cost of the town building infrastructure that will supply water to the east Tangerine corridor.
There were two options being considered. The option that placed the well closer to the reservoir was chosen because it saves energy costs. The council voted unanimously to approve the use of impact fees and to continue to negotiate with developers on their contributions to the project.
Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema informed the council of the need for a new police facility, explaining that the current facility needed an upgrade in areas for training and development, employee areas, secure parking, holding areas and evidence and file storage.
Three potential locations for a new facility were discussed. One was to be built next to the Civic Center Campus. A second proposal was for the Twin Peaks and Linda Vista area. The final was at the MOC building the town already owns on Ina. Each area had their advantages and disadvantages.
“Three locations are viable,” Chief Rozema informed. “Every one presents opportunities, every one of them presents challenges.
The town owned the land at both the MOC building and the Civic Center, so the cost of each project would be a little over $20 million, while the Twin Peaks location would be more.
The council then began discussing location and financing. The council was somewhat split on location, but the real disagreements came about financing. Some wanted new residents in Marana to foot the bill with impact fees, others wanted the citizens to have a say in either a temporary rise in the sales tax or a temporary rise in property taxes.
Finally, Mayor Honea made a motion for the new facility to be at the MMC campus location. The motion was seconded and it passed 4-2. Council member Dave Bowen and Roxanne Ziegler both voted nay, with their concerns being that the bulk of calls for the MPD were in the southern part of the town, and the MMC campus was in a lower crime area.
A second motion by the mayor to direct staff to work on the impact fee process, but it was not seconded and more discussion on funding the project was needed. It was agreed upon that various funding sources needed to be explored and that the town needed to reach out “to community groups and businesses.” The results will be brought back to the council but Mayor Honea noted “if we don’t identify a funding source we are not going to do it.”
Before a brief break, Councilman Jon Post said, “If we don’t have the money to build a police station, why are we even going to discuss the next item?”
That statement set the tone for the next discussion.
Jen Christelman updated the council on the changes to Marana Heritage Park including the Heritage Farm section and the new splash pad, but most of the focus was on the proposed arenas in the Heritage Ranch section of the park.
The town got feedback from architect Sergio Martinez who designs rodeo and equestrian arenas, and Tim Lynch, who runs Horseshoe Park in the Phoenix area. Both came to the same conclusion, that the designs were first class, but that the size of the area may not be able to host a five-day event. Marana resident Clay Parsons, who has vast experience with rodeo and other equestrian events, was in attendance and concurred with those opinions. Parsons also explained that even if the arena is booked, “it will never pay for itself.” He also expressed concern with the arenas being so close to houses.
Post posed another question to the group, “Are we trying to build a park or do we want an equestrian center?” He added that the town did not have the money to shell out for all of the features that they wanted. Davidson would explain later that the park plan was designed to stretch out expenses over several years.
Zeigler also mentioned that she felt that they needed to look at all the proposed projects simultaneously, not just one at a time and they needed to ensure “the core services are there first.”
Davidson did discuss how the various projects worked in harmony. How the sewers had “a mechanism for payback” He added that there was contingency money loaded into the budget for the Heritage Park and new revenue streams would need to be found to build the police station. Bond money was also discussed and Davidson felt that bond money would be needed to fund the covered arena.
“The heritage park facility won’t be like any other park facility,” Davidson added. “It will be a tourist attraction representing Marana and who we are, and so it’s much more than a park.”
The council took no action on the arena and will discuss it more at a later date.
The council was originally supposed to hear a presentation on the strategic plan, but with the meeting lasting well over three hours, they agreed to discuss it at a later date. Davidson asked for permission to continue to work on it and that was agreed to by the council.