Council explores options for park site - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Council explores options for park site

Voters rejected bond question that would have levied property tax to pay for construction

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Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2009 12:00 am

The Oro Valley Town Council met Wednesday night to discuss the future of the 213-acre town-owned Naranja Town Site.

The property, on Naranja Drive between La Cañada Drive and First Avenue, was the subject of a failed bond election last November.

Voters were asked to approve a $48.6-million bond package that would have facilitated construction of the proposed park and allowed the town to levy a secondary property tax.

With 57-percent opposed, the measure failed.

At the Jan. 14 meeting — a non-voting study session — town council members discussed numerous options for the property, including — seeking partnerships with other governments or organizations to develop the park without a property tax; pursuing a second bond election; finding alternative uses for the property; selling parts or all the land for private development; building the park as proposed, but in stages over several years; or doing nothing.

Council Member Bill Garner, however, offered yet another proposal.

Garner’s concept included halving the property — reserving the northern portion for commercial development and utilizing the southern end for a smaller park complex.

Under that proposal, the town would sell roughly 100 acres of the property to developers with the intent that it would expand the town’s burgeoning bio-medical industry.

“We’re running out of space for those projects,” Garner said.

Any sale of town-owned properties worth more than $500,000 would require voter approval, Town Attorney Tobin Rosen told the council.

Mayor Paul Loomis questioned the possibility of allowing industrial development in the midst of a densely packed residential section of town.

Several residents also raised concerns about the future of the property.

Some residents noted that the assumptions that led to the park master plan might not apply today or in the future.

One resident suggested the town initiate a process to gather public input about the Naranja Town Site and move toward a new plan for property.

In 2001, the town began a similar process when it formed the Naranja Town Site Task Force, a group of citizens and town representatives who met dozens of times that year. The group devised a park master plan, which served the blueprint for last November’s failed bond question.

The council made no decision on the issue but likely will schedule additional study sessions to parse the details.

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