Guest Opinion

After four months, all people of Oro Valley should understand we now have a community center. Those that don’t want to accept it, even after the courts ruled against their petitions, are now involved in the recall of three members of town council and our mayor. They accomplished their mission of getting enough signatures requiring the election of a mayor and three members of council. Unfortunately, they are too busy to review what these four ‘targeted’ dedicated people have accomplished over the last five years and the fact that their failed petitions cost the town over $100,000.

When they came in to office, they inherited a $3 million debt, which has been paid off, and at this time, the town has a surplus approaching $2 million. We have the best roads in the county, spent over $2 million to upgrade our aquatic center to a ‘state-of-art’ facility, have a police department that has made our town one of the top 10 safest places to live and raise a family, spent over $2 million to construct several sports facilities at the Riverfront, Naranja and Kreigh parks, spent $2 million to bury overhead electric elect lines so the mountain views would not be obstructed by some home owners, hosted a post-graduation party (supported by the police department), created a ‘Youth Advisory Committee’ allowing them to voice their concerns and needs of the youth and this is only a partial list of what has transpired since coming into office.

The originators of the recall refuse to accept what the present council and their wants are to have an open government, which goes back to the purchase of the El Conquistador community center and not allowing the public more time to consider the proposal. The mayor has explained on several occasions that the purchase was not a ‘back-room’ deal as they maintain. As far back as June 18, 2014, in an executive meeting with all members of town council present, the possible purchase of the El Conquistador Country Club for its use as a community center, which many people were asking for, were discussed. At that meeting, council gave the mayor permission to do more investigating and negotiating for the property. After several more meetings were held, town council agreed to the purchase, however, the buyer (HSL) of the El Conquistador Hotel, insisted that the country club purchase by the town not be made public until his purchase agreement with Met Life (then owners of the hotel) was completed. With two other buyers showing interest in purchasing the country club property, one being a home developer, town council had to make a quick decision, and made the possible purchase of the property public at the Dec, 3, 2014, town council meeting. Timing was of the essence with settlement of the hotel scheduled for Dec. 18, 2014, and if Oro Valley was not interested in purchasing the country club property by that time it would have to be offered to one of the two buyers waiting in the ‘wings.’ 

Several public information meetings were held and complete details were discussed. The county had a $3 million asset value of the property appraised at $42 million. Purchase price to Oro Valley would be $1 million to be paid over a three-year period with no interest charges. At the Dec. 17, 2014, town council meeting, to a standing-room-only crowd, many questions, both pro and con, were asked and answered. After more discussion among members of council, the purchase of the property was approved by a 4-3 vote. 

The cost to construct a new community center may have been lower than remodeling of the El Conquistador community center, however, the building costs would not include the amenities the country club already has — landscaping, parking, tennis courts, equipment for the fitness room, etc.

Troon Management recently signed a contract with the town for the operation of the golf, tennis, fitness center and restaurant. Golfers have told me the courses are already much improved and play has increased, however, the real use will be determined when the snow birds return. The city of Tucson had the same problem. Their courses were not being properly maintained by city employees and use declined. I called the assistant manager of the El Rio Course, and he advised me since hiring a professional golf operating company, O. B. Sports, the condition of the courses improved and play has increased.

The opposition insists that the restaurant at our community center will be a financial losing proposition. Sun City is spending over $200,000 to increase the size of their café and revenue has increased almost $50,000 over budget since hiring new management, even without completion of the new facility. Both of these restaurants are open to the public.

Another one of their concerns is the construction of the apartments along Oracle Road. Real estate managers maintain many people, young and old, prefer apartment living over individual homes because of the costs of maintenance, taxes, mortgages, etc. With the anticipated federal tax increase, higher mortgages rates can be expected and the need of these units will become more popular. Although the units are not all completed nor are the finished ones all occupied, I’m certain the owners did much research on the future needs before investing funds for construction of these complexes.

Finally, before voting for a mayor and three members of town council, I urge all residences to take time to look around to see what Oro Valley really has to offer for both young and old and remember we do have an ‘open government’ with our present mayor and town council.

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