The Oro Valley Town Council on Wednesday, Feb. 18, approved a contract with the Oro Valley Historical Society to build a series of historical gardens at the town’s Steam Pump Ranch heritage site.
The historical society plans to build gardens that reflect Native American cultures and the era of pioneer expansion into the West.
Part of the agreement also allows the historical society to conduct a monthly tour of the Steam Pump Ranch property, albeit with certain restrictions on access to buildings.
Councilwoman Paula Abbott cast the only vote opposed to the contract, saying that the town would open itself to potential lawsuits if people were to injure themselves during tours of the site where many of the buildings stand in disrepair.
“The reason it’s closed off is because it’s a health hazard,” Abbott said.
The contract requires that the Oro Valley Historical Society purchase a $2 million liability insurance policy. The contract also stipulates that the historical society would be responsible for any property damage that occurs during tours and would assume responsibility for anyone injured while working on the project or attending a tour of the site.
TOWN TO KEEP USING VOLUNTEER BOARDS
The council also rejected a proposal aimed at changing the way the council seats volunteers on boards and commissions.
Councilman K.C. Carter spearheaded the proposal that would have allowed council members to choose one person each to serve on town boards and commissions.
Under the current process, people interested in serving on the boards volunteer and later sit for interviews with a council designee and the applicable department head.
The proposed changes drew fire from fellow council members.
Councilman Al Kunisch most directly criticized the change, telling The Explorer last December that the proposed changes were “like cronyism.”
“I haven’t heard yet, anybody say what is the problem (with the current process),” Kunisch said last week.
The proposal failed with Kunisch, Bill Garner, Barry Gillaspie and Mayor Paul Loomis opposed. Carter, Abbott and Salette Latas in favor of the change.
TOWN TO STATE: ‘STOP SCHOOL CUTS’
The council voted unanimously on a resolution that calls for the state Legislature to not enact any further cuts to education spending.
State lawmakers have cut more than $200 million from the university system and $130 million in K-12 funding.
The cuts were part of a series of moves the Legislature adopted to close a $1.4-billion budget shortfall this year.
Legislative leaders have proposed more cuts for fiscal 2010, which begins July 1.
The resolution Oro Valley leaders passed last week calls on lawmakers to “not balance the State budget at the expense of public education.”