We’ve finally reached that point in time I once thought a distant dream: election week. By the time next week’s edition The Explorer and Marana News land in your driveways and on racks across town, the Town of Oro Valley’s bond proposition will be decided by the voters. The concept of Proposition 454 was first pitched as a community need, though much more is at stake than the future of a park site. In many ways, this vote is a fork in the road for the town as a whole. Founded as a small community, Oro Valley’s opposition to a local property tax was foundational to its establishment. Now 43 years later, and the question of taxation, development and the future is once again at our doorstep.
Should non-park-using demographics support those who want to take advantage of more free space? Is the town hoping to become a sports tourism destination? Is there a second bond? How much does a latte actually cost? All of these questions, and more, have been asked of us here at Tucson Local Media—and I would like one last opportunity to supply some answers.
How much will this bond cost? I think that this is the most common question I have received, and the answer is simple. Proposition 454 is a $17 million bond question, which means the town wants to borrow $17 million. When you through in interest over the 20 years that the bonds will be paid, the cost to cost taxpayers is roughly $27 million.
Is there a second bond? Speaking plainly, no. The concept of a second bond was developed by those in opposition to Prop. 454 by (from my understanding) subtracting the bond’s price tag from the 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, and tallying what is missing. That master plan is still currently in effect, though no request has (yet) been made for any other development at the site.
Which leads me to my next question, what about the event center?
Yes, an event center was included in the master plan, and yes, it is still in the master plan. That doesn’t mean it is (necessarily) still going to be built. Could it? You bet. Will it? I personally doubt that. Last year, the town entered into a partnership with Tohono Chul park to develop an event space at that site. This, in my own opinion, reduces the need for an event center at Naranja. Does it eliminate that possibility? Absolutely not. But it does make it seem like a bit of a stretch.
Why did “big money” get involved? What about Saguaro Strategies? That is a tricky answer.
If one political firm is responsible for running successful campaigns for the entire sitting council, they probably have some insight into voters, right? I am not discounting the connection between the Yes campaign’s use of Saguaro Strategies and the use of the same firm by the town council in their own campaigns, but I grow weary of the conspiracy theories. If they can help put someone on the dais, maybe they can help pass a bond?
As for the money, I can’t really answer accurately why a contingent of developers supported the yes cause, because it’s not my money. But, as I said in “Money and Politics,” it shouldn’t be too surprising that the same names appear in this campaign (see the previous paragraph).
As for the question of who in a community should help fund a park, I think that is entirely up to the voters, though it is disheartening to read the litany of angry words left by those in opposition. Calling someone a poor parent because their children play football makes you a poorer excuse for a person, and telling little league players to pay for their own fields is pathetic behavior.
Stick to the facts, don’t rely on emotional appeals (on either side) and vote with your mind—not your heart. And no matter how you feel about this bond, or anything else on the ballot, do your part and vote. If you need help finding your polling location, go online to recorder.pima.gov/VoterStats/PollingInfo.
Because if you don’t vote, your opinion truly doesn’t matter.