In regard to Jan. 17 article “Oro Valley community says goodbye…”: Thank you so much for the wonderful article about Stan Winetrobe in the Jan. 17 edition of the Explorer. Stan would have thoroughly enjoyed it. He loved living in Oro Valley and truly believed that “it takes a village.”
In regard to Jan. 17 letter “Bon Voyage, My Friend”: While reading the letter penned by Don Cox in the Jan. 17 Explorer honoring Stan Winetrobe, a couple of his comments just jumped right out at me.
First: “….a group of men who talk loud due to hearing issues and gather the following Tuesday and try to remember what took place last week. You know the kind I mean.” And, “Stan was the youngest member of the group, and therefore frequently had a less jaded view of things.”
It seems like Mr. Cox somehow just cannot write a piece without “dinging” those who might not share his opinion on a subject. Other than that, nice letter.
OV gets crumbs
In regard to Jan. 17 article “Marana, Oro Valley discuss economic future…”: It’s rather amusing to read that Oro Valley Mayor Hiremath say that Marana and Oro Valley are “cookie-cutter and we each have the exact same things.” I don’t see much duplication or divvying up.
Marana Mayor Honea is doing a great job of keeping Marana financially healthy while attracting new businesses, such as the Tucson Premium Outlet Mall and improving Marana schools by upgrading programs to incorporate digital technology, such as mechatronics, automation and 3D printing.
In stark contrast, Mayor Hiremath and his council members repeatedly vote to force roughly 45,000 Oro Valley residents to subsidize maintenance and upgrades to unprofitable golf courses and a rundown community center that benefit just a few hundred paying members. It’s not hard to see that Marana is run by a smart cookie and Oro Valley residents get the crumbs.
Make a park
By now, Oro Valley residents are aware that Mayor Hiremath and councilmembers Hornat, Snider and Waters voted to buy the El Conquistador golf courses under the guise of providing residents with a low cost community center. At the end of last fiscal year, this fiasco lost $5.7 million and will need $6 million to repair and upgrade the golf clubhouse and community center. Troon has indicated that the courses also require $5 million in repairs to greens, sand traps and cart paths to attract more golfers.
The $50,000 National Golf Foundation Study listed an option D which would be to exit golf, close the courses and create town neighborhood parks. The study report estimated a $3 million investment would be required to remove turf and create sustainable parks. Oro Valley can provide all residents open passive recreation with walk, run paths, fitness apparatus, neighborhood dog parks and playgrounds
How big is 300 acres? Three times the usable space in Naranja Park, 6 to 7 miles of walk/run/family bike trails. Best of all, it is right in the center of town surrounded by four square miles of residential neighborhoods. So, my vote to solve the golf crisis, and save 600,000 gallons of water every day is to convert the golf courses to parks and improve the quality of life for all Oro Valley residents.
The only alternative
It is a fact that Oro Valley purchased 45 holes of golf and that the purchase has been a financial disaster. The best way to minimize town losses is to eliminate golf.
However, if the council insists on keeping golf, what is the best alternative to minimize losses? I said minimize because there is no chance that the El Conquistador golf facility will ever profit, or break even. I suggest that we return the golf complex to the original 18 holes and become a municipal facility. By that I mean no members. Everyone pays for each round played, and use the practice facilities.
In fiscal year 16/17, the income from member dues and fees amounted to over $928,000. A lot of income to give up by going strictly municipal, but the reduction in expenses from closing 27 holes of golf and selling prime tee times to the public will allow the town to offset the revenue loss.
The first thing is to contract out the food and beverage recommended in the $50,000 NGF Study Report. Contracting out the food and beverage will save the town over $100,000 per year.
By reducing to the original 18 holes, the facility can allow for golfers to play a 9 or 18-hole course since the 9th green and the 18th green both end at the community center. Equipment leases can be reduced as there is no longer a need to maintain 45 holes of golf. Payroll, benefits, maintenance, cart leases and management fees will all be substantially reduced.
Utilities will be reduced. There will no longer be a need to water the holes south of Lambert that was never part of the purchase. Although the town must still maintain acreage not utilized for golf to protect property values of surrounding homes, major reductions in utility expenses will occur. There will be no need to over seed in the winter, or maintain greens and sand traps on closed holes.
By returning to the original 18-hole concept the savings will be substantial. The $2.1+ million in sales tax revenues will cover remaining golf losses and allow the Town to responsibly maintain the rest of the acreage.
Editor’s Note: Mike Zinkin was a councilmember for the Town of Oro Valley at the time of the community center acquisition, and voted against the proposal.
Tax legislation a boon
It’s a New Year, and Arizona businesses have a lot to look forward to thanks to the recently passed tax legislation. I know my business does.
I am the owner of HT Metals, a small metal distribution company in Tucson, Arizona. This bill will have an immediate positive effect on my business, as it allows my company to fully expense a new water jet machine in addition to the one I currently use. This new equipment will allow me to hire more employees, raise wages for my current workers, and expand my business.
Arizona’s small business community deserves the relief this bill provides. And there is a lot to be relieved about. All small businesses earning $315,000 or less each year get a 20 percent deduction, meaning the first 20 percent of their income is tax free.
I applaud Arizona Republicans for supporting this bill. It’s good for business, and it’s good for Arizona.