Letters to Editor

Yes for Defense Spending

I was very pleased to see the defense authorization bill includes increased funds for the F-35 program and our country’s missile defense programs. Both are needed now, given that North Korea is threatening us with missiles and China recently unveiled their new fighter jet.  

It’s easy to see the big price tag on these and other defense items and immediately think, “we don’t need that.”  But the truth is that without a constant investment in our nation's defense, enemy countries will take advantage. The U.S. must constantly show its strength and military capabilities by investing in groundbreaking military ventures that will not only keep our country safe, but also give those serving our country the best chance at success. 

—Jay Peterson

 

Patriotic Protest

Regarding the Oct. 11 letter “To the NFL”: Were I to fly an American flag today, it would be at half-mast to mourn the death of democracy in our country. It’s old to have self-proclaimed “patriots” denigrate protesters who are attempting to raise awareness of inequities in our society and protest discrimination against African Americans. 

Clearly these “patriots” don’t want to be reminded of, let alone change, the blatant discrimination against non-whites who want to participate fully in our society but cannot because these “patriots” insist on their forever riding at back of the bus. Professional athletes have visibility and I appreciate and support their peaceful protests for social justice. 

Counter-protesters are welcome to turn off their TV sets or sing the national anthem at the top of their lungs, but intolerance of athletes exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully is both unpatriotic and inappropriate. Our troops have died to preserve our rights. Please tolerate and respect those rights lest we lose them.

—Lois Berkowitz

 

Taking a knee

Regarding the Oct. 11 letter “To the NFL”: Let me first thank you for your service. I am a 69-year-old Vietnam vet with 107 combat air missions over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. 

When I enlisted, I either pledged or took an oath, it was 50 years ago and I don’t remember which, that I would support the constitution. There was no mention of the flag or national anthem. As much as you believe, the flag and anthem are not the sole property of veterans, active duty personnel or first responders. They belong to each and every American. 

While we are the greatest country in the world, we are not perfect. We cannot continue to sweep the injustices that take place under the carpet. I have accepted flag burning as a First Amendment right as long as it is not my flag. If these players state that they support the military, I, for one, believe them. 

Give them the same break that you give our president. I did not like sitting, but kneeling is okay by me. God bless America.

—Kurt Ohlrich

 

Over the counter guns

Another mass killing of 59 by someone exercising his Second Amendment rights. When a killer can hold a valid license to own and purchase multiple firearms, but someone who will Dr. shop to get opiates prescriptions that person could end up in jail. 

What would our Congress do if perhaps the story read “59 dead at music festival from prescription drug overdose”? 

When buying a gun is much easier then getting a legal prescription for opiates, perhaps it’s time to finally realize that instead of glorifying the Second Amendment, perhaps we should glorify the Bill of Rights. 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. 

It seems that the 59 killed in Las Vegas were certainly denied their life, liberty, and future happiness. Since the Bill of Rights was created at the founding of our country and the Second Amendment was enacted to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states. Of course, what do we expect when a person in Arizona (thanks to Rep. Mark Finchem) is not allowed to turn in an unwanted gun to the police department for destruction because the gun should be auctioned off to the highest bidder? 

Is it because a gun is considered a national treasure? Perhaps if guns were treated like prescription drugs, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many gun deaths.

—Clyde Steele

 

What about safety?

It was an incident I never wanted to see. While stopped at the intersection of Southbound Monterra at Naranja, a jogger heading east on Naranja was struck from behind by a SUV turning left onto Naranja in front of me. The jogger flew like a rag doll over the hood of the SUV, headfirst onto the pavement. In an instant it was over. I made the 911 call—but I knew it was too late.

Ten years have passed since that horrible afternoon and yet, the stretch ofNaranja between First and La Cañada remains unsafe. Tangerine Road, Lambert Lane and even Naranja between Ironwood School and La Cañada have bike paths and pedestrian walkways well off of the main streets. Naranja between First and La Cañada have narrow roadside bike paths. Traffic is supposed to travel at 45 MPH. However, it is obvious that most traffic along that part of Naranja goes much faster. 

Prop 454 is bounded by two opposing groups, the little leaguers (for) and Ax the Tax (against). Neither are considering the safety aspects of the proposal with its associated rapid expansion.

Regardless of your stand, I urge everyone to vote “no” on Prop 454 for safety reasons. Until Naranja between First Ave and La Cañada is made safe with pedestrian and bike lanes separate from the main roadway, no further growth should be approved. First things first— let’s make Naranja safe for everyone before there is another death on Naranja.

—Wally Van Winkle

 

What can we cut?

Supporters of the property tax increase try to tug at our heartstrings with buzzwords like “It’s only one latte per day” or “It’s all about the children.” When a proposal fails to make economic sense, supporters make it emotional. We’ve seen it before. Here’s my response to the emotional approach:

Oro Valley has thousands of senior citizens on fixed incomes, I’m one of them. Most of us have already given up lattes. When we seniors are faced with an increase in ongoing expenses, taxes especially, we do not have the luxury of being able to go out and get another job or return to our previous occupation if we need extra money. Last I checked, there were not very many job opportunities in Oro Valley for retired astronomers, steamship captains or airplane navigators. So we seniors have to take another route; we have to cut some items out of our budget to make up for any shortfall. And one of the areas most vulnerable to cuts in our budgets is our charitable giving. 

For almost ten years, I have been sending a monthly contribution to a combined school and orphanage in Africa. Most of the children in that facility will never even see a latte, much less ever taste one. I send money to provide food, clothing and school supplies. The monthly reduction in my contribution to that school and orphanage in order to pay the increase in my property taxes will feed one child for an entire week. So much for the “It’s only one latte” argument. 

And which one of the supporters of Prop 454 would like to help me write the letter informing that school/orphanage I help support that they will get less money for food, clothing and school supplies each month because Oro Valley would rather use the money to build sports fields?

It’s about much more than lattes and sports fields. Vote “no” on Prop 454.

—Hal Biestek

 

Disaster or excellence? 

The arguments against the Naranja Park Bond center on the claim that Oro Valley is a disaster due to long term mismanagement, poor decisions and out of control spending. Is this true? 

Oro Valley is constantly rated as one of the safest and best communities to live in. Our roads and infrastructure are the envy of every resident of the City of Tucson and Pima County. We have an outstanding aquatics center and community center serving thousands of residents of all ages. We are home to the No. 2 rated school in the entire country (Oro Valley Basis) and an amazing growing bio tech center. Home prices in Oro Valley typically command a premium over the surrounding communities. The town consistently wins awards for financial management and finished this past year nearly $2,000,000 in the black. So which is it? 

Is Oro Valley a disaster or a community of excellence in which you chose to live? (This is a personal letter to the editor submitted as a long time resident and small business owner in Oro Valley and not as a current member of Town Council)

—Steve Solomon

Editor’s note: Steve Solomon is a current member of the Oro Valley Town Council, and an appointed councilmember from 2010 to 2012.

 

Proposition masquerade

A $28 million Oro Valley property tax for what? So that the OV town council plays “the little investor” in a sequel to the golf course ruinous acquisition.

We vote on a big money bond this November to build some soccer and baseball fields at Naranja Park. At this price we could send the kids to practice in Hawaii, all expenses included for many, many years to come! The bond is not about a few fields, it is about laying infrastructure for an event center, curiously not mentioned. Read the bond budget to see the exorbitant costs and understand that there is a hidden agenda and more taxes ahead. 

“Hear, hear,” as British legislators shout to make a point. The town council without citizen vote acquired the golf courses and country club three years ago. The result: $1 million for the purchase plus $5.7 million in losses from May 2014 until June 2017. The town is fooling us by claiming losses are minimal because of the “revenue stream” (i.e. tax subsidy) from the sales tax hike.

But the council, instead of acting responsibly and taking action to stem the golf course red ink, asks us to go further in debt with a secondary property tax. Yet another recreational tax “sweetened” with the lure of sports tourism! Yeah, like all the tourism we enjoyed from the golf courses and their dwindling memberships. At this rate, in six and half years total losses on golf will be the nominal value of the $17 million bond.

 “Hear, hear!” And say, “no” to 454!

—George Kavvouras

Editor’s note: An event center was included in the 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, though Prop. 454 is identified as a “partial build out” of that plan. No request for funding for an event center at the park has been made by Oro Valley.

 

Need to Know

I served in the US Navy, and learned a lot from the experience. One thing was “loose lips sink ships,” and maintaining secure communications. The Navy way to keep information secure was to only send messages to action addressees who had a “need to know”. So although, I had a top secret clearance I never saw many of the messages to my ship because I didn’t have a “need to know” to do my job.

Unfortunately that concept is now being misapplied by the Town of Oro Valley with their 7-0 decision to place a $17 million bond and $28 million property tax on the ballot. There was no discussion, no consideration of alternatives because the mayor and council had been involved since January, and knew how they would vote.

The tough part is to frame the voter’s impressions to pass the bond. A call to Saguaro Strategies, the mayor’s Phoenix political consultants, solved the problem. Let’s promote the bond with a simple heartfelt campaign, “ it’s for the kids,” and mail out expensive glossy post cards saying it’s only “a latte a month” while avoiding any facts.

Here are some facts about the 454 bond town officials think residents don’t need to know.

The $17 million bond is the 1st step toward a $33 million cost to build out the park per the town’s 2015 plan. Of the first $17 million, most of the money is for infrastructure for the event center, not fields.

The Event Center will cost another $10 million in the next park funding. The town will build a two lane connector road from Naranja Drive through the park to Tangerine. Approval of 454 will facilitate the next round of funding once the roadways, sewer and parking lots are in place. The event center and championship field will change our community park to a sports and event venue with residential communities on all sides.

Just keep this stuff out of all town documents and the bond voter information pamphlet, they will never know what they are voting for and we’ll pass 454.

I know what is in the plan so I am voting “no” on property tax 454.

—Jack Stinnett

Jack Stinnett is associated with the Axe the Tax PAC.

Editor’s note: An event center was included in the 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, though Prop. 454 is identified as a “partial build out” of that plan. No request for funding for an event center at the park has been made by Oro Valley.

 

Bond for the future

I have been a resident of Oro Valley for 16 years, am retired and support Proposition 454. 

First, I would like to thank The Explorer for the facts it has supplied on the bond issue in its most recent edition. I have looked at the architectural layout, reviewed the numbers and conclude that it is a good plan. Perfect, I don’t know. But as that old saw goes—“perfection (the no property tax mantra) is quite often the enemy of the good (municipal improvements for kids.)” 

I did the tax calculation and it will cost me less than $100 a year (closer to two lattes a month at Fry’s.) That amount adds 1.4percent to my 2017 tax bill, which does not seem egregious compared to the benefits, both tangible and intangible, to the community. 

A long time ago, my mother mentioned she always supported local municipal bond issues, even after we kids were gone. Why? Because her kids had received the benefit of those who had supported bond issues before our family arrived and she thought it only fitting to do the same. It worked for me then, and it works for me now. 

—William Falter

 

Hidden plans?

I think we can all agree that honesty, transparency and fiscal responsibility are all important characteristics we want in our government officials. Did you know that the current Naranja Town Park bond includes money for the infrastructure for a 40,000+ square foot event center where car auctions, concerts, and other crowd attracting events can be held? 

Did you know that following this bond (in a couple of years) there will be another just as expensive bond to actually build this event center? Did you know that there will be an actual road through the park connecting Naranja and Tangerine? The town continues to talk about the sports fields for the kids of our community. It sounds like there’s more to the plan than they are sharing with us. That’s not honest, by omission, and it’s not transparent. 

Do you see that event center in any of the maps you’ve see in of the proposed build out of the park or in any of the conversations you may have had with any town employee? What is the town really building on Naranja—places for our community kids to play sports or a huge event complex that will be too busy for our kids to get on those fields, or too dangerous for kids (and pets and senior citizens) to walk or run or picnic, or to just enjoy?

Please let the town practice fiscal responsibility, and not tax the homeowners for something they are hiding from us. Let them know that you admire honesty, transparency, and fiscal responsibility and let them practice all three. Vote “no” on Proposition 454.

—Chase Euerle

Editor’s note: An event center was included in the 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, though Prop. 454 is identified as a “partial build out” of that plan. No request for funding for an event center at the park has been made by Oro Valley.

 

Bait and Switch

I started the Axe the tax PAC because I was concerned about a property tax and giving our fiscally irresponsible mayor and council a credit card with a $17 million limit.

The more I learn, the worse it gets. It seems that our mayor was involved in the nefarious “we want more fields” survey where 10,000 respondents said they wanted more Oro Valley baseball fields, but with only 167 living in Oro Valley.

It appears that in December 2016, the mayor and council were planning on using our little league kids as bait for the bond. These are the same Little league baseballers he has never built a field for in his seven years as mayor while buying golf courses, and paying $2.1 million to bury TEPCo power lines along North Oracle Road.

Upon closer inspection, Oro Valley doesn’t have a field crisis. Little league, football and baseball have fields to play on, they just want the better fields in Naranja Park promised by the mayor. Further, of the $17 million bond, only $5.6 million is identified for youth fields—with the rest mostly building infrastructure for the mayor’s event center.

Although the Event Center doesn’t appear on any town Naranja  Park Plan or in our ballot materials, it is the “Elephant in the room”  we are buying with prop 454.

Freedom of information requests to the town have revealed that the $17 million 454 bond is just the first of two park fundings required to complete the $33MM Naranja Park build out.

In both the current $17 million 454 Bond and subsequent funding, the majority of the investment required is to build the infrastructure for $8 million then construct the Event Center for $10 million.

Never mentioned by the town, never in any resident survey, no public meetings, hidden in voting materials, but the Mayor and Council plan to tax resident’s property $50 million to build an event center that has no place in a residential community park.

How’s that for government transparency?

Join me in voting “no” on property tax 454 and we will   stop this nonsense.

—Jim Horn

Jim Horn is the chairman of the Axe the Tax PAC.

Editor’s note: An event center was included in the 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, though Prop. 454 is identified as a “partial build out” of that plan. No request for funding for an event center at the park has been made by Oro Valley.

 

A park prophecy

At the State of the Town luncheon last Thursday, although not permitted to show an affinity for the 454 Bond proposal for the build out of Naranja town park, the mayor at four different times during his speech extolled the virtues of this park, and told the group that sports tourism is a $9 billion dollar industry. In the post card most of us received in our mail today, it states that the sports industry is a $10 billion dollar industry. What do we believe?

In his speech, the mayor talked about how proud he was to have major league soccer teams using the sports park in 2017, and that the town looks forward to welcoming them back in 2018.

He stated that “when not in use” residents can avail themselves of the fields. Not in use by whom? Major league soccer tournaments, whatever teams make up the 9 or 10 billion dollar sports industry?  

What really is the commitment by the Town regarding these fields? Are they really for “the kids” or will the kids be relegated to playing around the schedules of sports teams who make up the 9 or 10 billion dollar sports industry?  

In the Oro Valley ad supplement to Tucson Lifestyle magazine, the ad talks about the “quality parks and recreational amenities” and “some of the best athletic facilities in Southern Arizona” and that the park is “a sporting mecca for hundreds of athletes”. Yes, we already have good facilities. We don’t need to build out Naranja Town Park by taxing the citizens of Oro Valley.  

Does the mayor have bigger dreams that go beyond our kids being able to play sports? Is he really going after that $9 or $10 billion sports industry? If that’s the case, let those major league teams pay for Naranja Town Park. What do you believe?

—Devon Sloan

 

Little leaguers say yes

Oro Valley Little League is in complete support of the Naranja expansion project. Not only will the improvements benefit our organization, but the construction will also have a positive impact for town residents and the surrounding communities alike.

The growth of Oro Valley Little League mirrors that of the town in which it resides. Year after year, our league participation numbers steadily increase as more young families migrate to the area. Families move to town for the obvious reasons: a steady economy, quality schools, activities and recreation abound and beautiful scenery that stretches for miles.

With the growth comes responsibility from our community and its leaders to support it. Although our league does everything in its power to maintain ball fields, the current infrastructure and facilities at Coronado K-8 School (several miles outside of Oro Valley town limits) are failing, and oftentimes dangerous. I believe our little leaguers deserve a community supported park to call home. More than 75 percent of our 300 ballplayers have an Oro Valley address, yet our home park is located at a school in Catalina. It’s time to build new, and build new in town.

Naranja expansion will increase property values, stimulate the local economy with increased traffic from local residents and visitors alike, support the future of our community which is our youth, and most importantly give our kids a safe place to play Oro Valley sports in Oro Valley.

Please join me in supporting the Naranja expansion, vote “yes” on 454.

—Ben Weege

Editor’s note: Ben Weege is the Oro Valley Little League President

 

What about the second bond?

Yes, the second bond! Proposition 454 doesn’t fully fund everything the Oro Valley Town Council has in mind at Naranja Park. In fact, the only improvement we will likely see is the addition of three soccer fields and four baseball fields. And that will come at a cost of around $5.5 million. Most would do some quick mental calculations and wonder, “This is a $17M bond; where will the remaining $11.5M be spent?”

Sadly, little of the remaining $11.5M will be spent on anything that directly and positively affects the citizens of Oro Valley unless the second bond passes. The $11.5M is all about infrastructure.

The Town has now made four drawings available to show what we’re getting. But if you’re not paying attention, your focus is diverted away from the things they don’t want you to see.

In July 2015, the Naranja Park Master Plan showed all the sports fields, but also showed a skate and bike park, a playground, an event center, and an outdoor performance venue. Let the last two sink in before reading further.

On subsequent drawings, the skate and bike park, the event center and the outdoor performance venue were blanked out. That wasn’t unintentional; in order to build all of this, $33M in bonds will have to be sold.

So, the “latte a month” it’ll cost the owner of a house assessed at $250,000—that’s just the beginning.

And you’ve undoubtedly heard that, while the Prop 454 bond is $17M, the total cost after interest is closer to $28M. The next bond will be approximately $16M. After interest and bond costs, our total outlay to turn Naranja Park into the sports tourism capitol of Arizona will be over $50M.

Something else to consider: If Prop 454 passes, but the 2nd bond does not, what then? We’re still on the hook for 20 years of a secondary property tax.

—Joe Lauer

Editor’s note: An event center was included in the 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, though Prop. 454 is identified as a “partial build out” of that plan. No request for funding for an event center at the park has been made by Oro Valley.

 

No sports complex

I think Oro Valley needs to slow down and take a deep breath. We do not need—or to even surpass in size—a Kino Sports Complex “North” in Oro Valley, as well as all the traffic and pollution that will come with it. 

Oro Valley already has some outstanding recreational facilities. I love them, benefit from them and feel grateful that our town’s priorities afforded them to us. I’m also excited that the town sentiment favors safety and family fun for the community in general and school-aged children in particular. 

However, if we need more ball fields to meet the current demand, do we really need a $30 million complex to fulfill that need? Exactly how many ball fields do we need? I haven’t acquired estimates, but am fairly certain that a few more fields and a restroom will cost our citizens much less than $30 million. 

More traffic. More crime. More air, noise light, and trash pollution. More commercialization of our already enviable community—valued for its natural beauty, serenity, safety and cleanliness. The addition of this venue will not benefit the residents, or enhance property values, but will benefit the developers.

—Lesli Hanby

 

Kino-adjacent?

We live in the Monterras just east of Naranja Park, and love our community. We are five minutes to the library, post office, two Fry’s centers and more. I don’t want our convenience and quiet residential living to be taken away because of sport and event tourism.

The mayor’s next great idea (after his PGA disaster) is to turn our community park into a smaller version of Kino and the Pima County Fair Grounds. No way! The traffic on Naranja Drive with the council’s “build on everything” mentality is growing worse. What will weekends be like with regional soccer tournament traffic flowing in/out of the park? Naranja is two lanes!

To pursue his sport and event tourism dream, our mayor not only wants to tax us for the next 20 years, but worse, ruin our park. Residents enjoyed walking in the natural desert, including the southeast corner of the park. This 20-acre open space provided quiet, scenic paths for families and dog walkers. No more. sports tourism for archery converted our paths into mobile target ranges. Now there are warning signs: “Live archery range - proceed at your own risk”. 

But so far, no promised archery tournaments for these weaponized warriors.

Don’t let the mayor ruin the rest of Naranja Park and our residential communities by taxing us so he can compete with County Administrator Huckelberry for sport and event tourism revenue.

Join with me and vote “no” on Property Tax 454.

—Teresa Fitzgerald

 

What I love about Oro Valley

Spring! The Sonoran Desert has the prettiest “weeds”! The road side is awash in yellows, oranges, pinks, purples; feather fans and tiny delicate orchids. Looking up at the Catalina’s I wonder at the hardy souls who put down roots in the first part of last century; when there was no electricity and the roads were not paved and I say a small prayer of thanks for their going point. What do I love about this little green valley? What’s not to love?  

—Kathryn Hull

 

What local support?

After attending a very informative meeting at the Golder Ranch Firehouse, I found it interesting to see that all contributors to the Naranja Park plan were developers. 

Not one was an individual resident of Oro Valley. If there is such a strong support for this project, why has it not received any donations from residents?

—Anne Britt

 

Yes for Fast Pitch

Oro Valley Fast Pitch Softball enriches the lives of hundreds of girls and their families each year through our spring and fall softball seasons. Our league supports Proposition 454, the Naranja Park Bond. 

Our town desperately needs more park space to accommodate the recreational activities of all the residents of Oro Valley, regardless of age. We live in a great and growing community—it is time to invest in our future to take advantage of our amazing weather and views of the Catalina Mountains. The benefits of expanding Naranja Park will be far reaching. Many of our local youth sports teams travel outside of Oro Valley for practices and games. Keeping more of those activities in our town will provide a boost to our local businesses. Expanded park facilities will also enable Oro Valley to host larger sporting, recreational and community events which will create even greater economic benefits for our local businesses. 

Beyond the economic benefits, expanding one of our town’s greatest assets will promote the health of our citizens and encourage greater community engagement. The existing archery range, dog park and soccer fields are a huge success—it is clear that our community was starving for these accommodations. Further investment in Naranja Park just makes sense. Oro Valley Fast Pitch Softball encourages you to Vote “yes” on 454.

—Chris Norman

Editor’s Note: Chris Norman is the treasurer for Oro Valley Fast Pitch.

 

A Historical Perspective

In the mid 1990’s, what is now called Naranja Park was a proposed park property for use by the Town of Oro Valley.  The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board personnel visited the property to determine if it would be a good purchase for the town as a park.  The park board’s advice to the mayor and council was that the property would be best used for hiking/walking nature trails, as the rolling hill topography was likely not conducive for use as athletic fields. The costs of grading, earthwork and the likely need for expensive retaining walls needed to level the landscape would be cost prohibitive for athletic field construction and associated infrastructure.

To date, the Naranja Park property has been developed with two completed large athletic fields, an archery range and parking contrary to the information you have been provided on proposed site plans of the park. Existing features are either left off the drawings or not identified.  Additional large athletic fields are currently being constructed and will be ready for use early next year (2018).  

The published costs estimated for the development of proposed facilities at the Naranja Park reflect the difficult construction. The “Earthwork and Mass Grading”, which includes clearing, rough grading and retaining walls, is more than $3.25 million.  This is more than 20 percent of the total estimated cost for the major planned improvements and such costs would terminate or send most development projects with no proposed revenues back to the drawing boards.  It reflects the use of designated parkland that is not suitable for athletic field development.  

The bond issue on the ballot for November is a property tax that will be levied to all Oro Valley property owners.  It seems unfair to charge residents a property tax for development of a property that was determined to be unfeasible for use as athletic facilities more than 20 years ago.  The land has not changed, but I fear the town government has.

—Bruce T. Pollard,

Bruce T. Pollard is a former Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Advisory Board member

 

Lattes or property value?

The group that promotes Prop 454 has claimed that taxes will be no more than a couple of lattes a week, but then I received in the mail that they also claim it will increase property values. If in fact that happens we will be hit with another tax increase as our county bases tax on the valuation of our properties. That could be a big tax increase for all of us.

—Carol Ryan

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