The Oro Valley Town Council voted 5-2 to issue $25 million in bonds for parks and recreation improvements.
The council also unanimously voted to declare an emergency on the resolution, which would allow the town to issue bonds immediately for favorable interest rates.
The bonds will pay for improvements for the Community Center, Naranja Park and new multi-use paths. The council set the stage to sell the bonds when it approved the town’s 2021/2022 budget but final approval did not come until Wednesday’s vote.
Councilmembers Steve Solomon and Harry “Mo” Greene voted against the bonds.
Chief Financial Officer David Gephart told the council that when the bonds were paid back with interest, the cost would be $31.5 million.
Gephart mentioned some of the proposed projects may not come to fruition and his costs were estimates.
Town Manager Mary Jacobs said some of the projects may not be achieved, but the council won’t know the detailed financial plan until projects are designed.
“We have the cart before the horse situation here,” Solomon said. “I don’t know how this council can consider moving forward with a $31.5 million bond when there are so many unknowns and we are basically saying we are going to spend whatever it costs.”
Councilmember Tim Bohen said he agreed with Solomon on the path of uncertainty, but said it was not unusual and the council has been transparent about the proposed plans.
With passing the bond resolution, Oro Valley residents will see major changes during the next 20 years to the Oro Valley Community Center, including resurfaced tennis courts and updated parking.
Roughly half of the $25 million will go to improvements at Naranja Park, where the town will build two new multi-use fields as well as pickleball courts and basketball courts. The plan also calls for a splash pad and a new skate park and pump track. Pump tracks, used by bikers and skateboarders, are designed to allow riders to generate momentum without pedaling or pushing.
“I really see how this could benefit our community. I see kids, parents, and grandparents gathering on the field to watch or play soccer, football, and lacrosse together,” Councilmember Melanie Barrett said.
The bonds will also support new paths for community walking, biking, and hiking. New paths will be placed on: La Canada Drive between Lambert and Naranja; Naranja Drive between La Canada and park entrance; and from Cañada del Oro wash to James D. Kriegh Park.
The Town of Oro Valley expects to pay the bonds off over 20 years at $1.7 million annually. The Town will pay this yearly debt with the 0.5% sales tax enacted in 2014.