At tonight’s Regular Council Meeting (April 5) the Oro Valley Town Council will discuss community requests and a proposed plan to build and finance additional sport fields and related amenities at Naranja Park. The proposed plan, which was developed in response to requests from residents and park user groups, is a partial build-out of the Council-approved 2015 Naranja Park Master Plan, and aligns with the voter-approved 2016 Your Voice, Our Future General Plan.
Since this project represents a significant long-term investment in town park infrastructure, staff has suggested general obligation bond funding to finance these improvements. Ultimately, any decision to issue bonds would be up to Oro Valley voters. Before the voters can decide, town council must consider the proposal and decide if it will be referred to the ballot.
The Town of Oro Valley has been taking a phased approach to developing Naranja Park in recent years. This slower development timeline has been based on fund availability.
At the Feb. 15 council meeting members of the community—including youth sport parents, athletes and Oro Valley user groups—asked council to take action to construct additional sport fields at Naranja Park. Council then directed staff to return at a future meeting with a proposal that meets the community’s request and a plan to finance the proposal.
While citizens are prohibited from running a referendum on bonds due to state statutes and the Arizona State Constitution (Article 4, Pt. 1, Sec 1) the law still allows citizens an opportunity to make their requests known to town council. Council must then decide whether or not to put a bond up for a public election. Since a general obligation bond is repaid with a dedicated secondary property tax, any potential question on the ballot to issue bonds and implement a property tax as payment would have to be referred by Council.
In the coming weeks, town council will be carefully considering the proposal and public input to determine if it should be placed on the November 2017 ballot for voters to decide.
Community requests served as the genesis of the proposed plan for Naranja Park, and public input on the plan will continue to play a critical role. The April 19 regular meeting at 6 p.m. has been designated for public comment on the proposed plan. Residents and park users are invited to attend this meeting and share their input. Anyone who is unable to attend the April 19 meeting is welcome to submit their feedback via email to constituent services coordinator Jessica Hynd at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feedback received via email will be provided to council.
Please note: Per usual Council Meeting procedure, “Call to the Audience” (blue cards) on an agendized item are not accepted. This means that at tonight’s meeting, those wishing to share their input on Naranja Park during “Call to the Audience” will be directed to do so at the April 19 meeting or via email.
About the proposed plan
The proposed plan is not a full build-out of the $33 million 2015 Council-approved Naranja Park Master Plan. Rather, the plan includes only the elements that the community and park user groups have identified as being in greatest demand (sport fields and related amenities).
The proposed plan includes: three multi-sport fields, a baseball/softball complex, lighting, restrooms, shade structures, earthwork and mass grading, utility systems, roadway and associated drainage features, parking lots and access drives, buildings and structures, pedestrian improvements, landscape and irrigation, site furnishings, a playground and an improved roadway, including a shared-use path, extending from Naranja Drive to Tangerine Road. Click here to view the conceptual design.
The firm of McGann & Associates was engaged to develop a cost estimate and conceptual design for the proposed plan. The total estimated cost is $17 million ($16.7 million for project costs plus an estimated $300,000 in bond issuance costs). Click here to view a breakdown of the cost estimate.
General obligation bond funding for construction financing
Annual principal and interest payments on an estimated $17 million general obligation bond issuance are approximately $1.4 million per year for 20 years. The secondary property tax dedicated to repay those bonds would sunset at the end of the bond term when the bonds are paid off. Based on current calculations, the estimated average property tax rate would be $0.22/$100 of assessed valuation. This works out to approximately $4.50 per month to an average homeowner with a home valued at $250,000.
Operations and maintenance (O&M) costs are not included in the proposed bond funding. O&M would be funded through the town’s general fund and revenue generation through user fees, tournament fees, special event fees and bed tax revenue from the overall economic impact derived from these additional fields. Click here for more details on O&M costs and projected revenues.
Alignment with the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan
Careful consideration was given to ensuring that the proposed plan for Naranja Park conformed to the 70 percent voter-approved 2016 Your Voice, Our Future General Plan. One of the goals stated in Your Voice, Our Future is:
“A high-quality parks, recreation and open space system that is accessible, comprehensive, connected and serves the community’s needs” (pages 14 and 19).
Additionally, chapter six of Your Voice, Our Future identifies several “Actions” in the Parks and Recreation section with regard to planning for parks funding needs and addressing the adequacy of Town parks and recreation programs and facilities (pages 66-68). Click here to view the Your Voice, Our Future General Plan.
Naranja Park, a 213-acre property on the north side of West Naranja Drive, east of North La Cañada Drive, was obtained by the Town of Oro Valley through purchases in 1996 and 2000. Identified as an ideal location for a regional park, it became the subject of an extensive master-planning process in 2001, and an initial master plan was adopted by Council in 2002.
It had a price tag of $154 million. Subsequent studies in 2006 and 2007 were conducted to develop a programming and concept design report. But in 2008, when voters were asked to authorize $48.6 million in bonds to construct phase one of the plan, the ballot item failed.
In the years that would follow, very little progress was made at the undeveloped park, until community advocates partnered with the Town to build and help fund a fixed-course archery range in November 2012. With the success of this effort, and the community support it received, the town took a fresh, creative look at the development of Naranja Park.
What emerged was a plan for infrastructure phasing and alternate sources of funding. The price tag on phase one of the project was $2.3 million, which included two multi-sport fields with lighting, a parking lot, a dog park, mass grading, utilities and an improved roadway. Phase one was completed and opened to the public in March 2015.
In 2016, Oro Valley Town Council approved funding for two additional multi-sport fields, to be spread over fiscal years 2016/17 and 2017/18.
(Note: This news was released by the Town of Oro Valley and edited by Tucson Local Media staff for formatting. Tucson Local Media will continue to cover this story as it unfolds.)