Letters to Editor

Honeybee for all

Regarding Oct. 4 story “Peace is possible over Honeybee Trails”: Use of the trails is not limited to mountain bikers, and construction of a new trailhead alone is not a viable answer for most hikers and trail runners to access public land. 

Five to six extra miles, not a big deal on a bike, but on foot it’s another matter. There are rarely more than a few of us on any given day. I am there nearly every week, and I can count the number of pedestrians on one hand that I have seen on the busiest of days. Usually, I see only bikes. 

In hindsight, Oro Valley should have acquired the trail from the developer to avoid this type of dispute. I’m certain they did not envision the HOA trying to revoke access, and I appreciate their efforts to negotiate a resolution, but this trailhead alone does not consider all affected parties. 

I recognize that as the popularity of mountain biking has exploded, that the trail system usage has increased over the past 20 years, and what historically was relatively minimal is much more regularly used. Since I am a frequent pedestrian user, if the cyclists are happy with a new trailhead, that’s fine and it should result in most bikers moving to the new site. But at the very least, the WAPA road should remain open to hikers and runners. 

Our impact is nearly invisible. That compromise, in conjunction with the new trailhead might actually resolve the dispute.

—Jim Cady

 

Leaning on the scale

Arizona election law requires that bonding authorities provide factual non-biased descriptive material regarding the bond proposal. They are not allowed to show support for the bond or use their considerable resources to promote it.

Did you get your water bill? Was your own personal bond flyer included in the mailing? Did you notice the misleading wording and new Park Plan layout?  Did you feel that your water might be cut off if you vote “no”?

Quoting from the Town’s latest bond info packet. The bond “only includes elements that community and park user groups have identified as being in the greatest demand.”

Sure, like $9 million for infrastructure for the event center no one has EVER heard of and is hidden under a white patch on the Naranja Park Plan. Who demanded that?

But it gets worse. As residents start questioning if we really have a field crisis after adding four supersized fields equal to six HS football fields, our town leaders have crafted a solution. Remove everything existing in Naranja Park from the new drawing, that way voters can’t see all the fields we have already built.

Done!

Dog Park—gone. 180 car parking lot—gone. Restroom office—gone. Fields one and two with two U6 teams playing on them—gone. Fields three and four under construction—gone. But most importantly, the event center hidden by a white patch now totally gone from the voter packet park plan.

This is just one of many examples of our Town officials “leaning on the scale,” but we highlight it because it is the descriptive material that will be in everyone’s bond election package and by law is held to a higher standard. The town obviously feels that this mostly blank drawing and designed to mislead description is all the information residents need to vote on the town’s tax on their property for the next 20 years.

I am voting “no” on property tax 454. I hope you will join me.

—Jim Horn

Editor’s Note: Jim Horn is associated with the Axe the Tax PAC.

 

More to McGann

The Explorer’s September 20th edition front page featured the Oro Valley Sports Alliance, a group that joined together to demand a Naranja Park bond to solve our “youth sports field crisis.” 

Not taking things at face value, I wondered who are these guys? My question was answered by the Explorer’s picture featuring Don McGann, a director of the Sports Alliance, because I know Don.

Don McGann is a principle in McGann and Associates a landscape architect firm hired by the town to develop the Naranja Park Master Plan. McGann and Associates led the town staff 2014 six month Naranja Park study.

In our Sept. 23, 2014 Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting, Don was the lead presenter of the draft Park Master plan. The plan included a new 40,000-square foot community center, but out of left field, Don proposed a 47,000-square-foot event center. PRAB’s reaction was immediate. Never mentioned in the six month’s study, not on any survey, the event center was voted down 7-0. A week later the town reinserted the Event Center, presented the draft plan to Council and it was approved 6-1.

In our Dec. 9, 2014 PRAB meeting, Don presented the final Naranja Park Master plan, and you guessed it—the community center was out and the centerpiece of the Park was now the event center that no one ever heard of. Since then, the town has avoided mentioning the event center, and it can no longer be found on park layouts.

McGann and Associates have continued to work for the town and have developed the prop 454 bond layouts (which hide the Event Center), and the Phase III cost estimates. McGann and Associate stand to gain financially from the passage of proposition 454.

I feel that both the Explorer and Arizona Daily Star failed to properly vet and identify the Oro Valley Sports Alliance, and Mr. McGann as interested parties in proposition 454.

—Jack Stinnett

Editor’s note: Jack Stinnett is the chairman of the Axe the Tax PAC. 

 

Sports tourism panacea

The Oro Valley Mayor and Council at some point got hooked on the pipe dream of sports tourism. Sports tourism sounds like a really neat concept. You overbuild town sport fields and facilities, and attract visitors to Oro Valley. With our bed tax, and 8-and-a-half percent sales taxes, we clip the visitors and more revenue rolls in.

We have positive and negative examples of this concept in Oro Valley. 

Aquatic Center: regional swim meets, ironman competitions, some national events—a successful and excellent facility—no real local competition. Negatives: $350,000 town subsidy—town swimmers locked out during competition periods.

Archery Range: expanded to include walking course displaced 35 acres of desert walking trails- No tournaments. A failure by any standard.

El Con Tennis 30 courts: some tournaments—courts mostly unused and a maintenance liability—not a success.

El Con Golf: three courses with 45 holes—some tournaments but there are better courses in Oro Valley. A total failure hemorrhaging $2.5 million each year

Now this same crew of sports entrepreneurs wants to go big and bet on becoming Arizona’s soccer tournament venue. Reviewing the above examples, keys to success are: Premier facilities with critical mass size; good logistics and traffic access and the competitive landscape.

The town wants to spend $17 million to build a premier sports facility. But Naranja Park has a limited buildable footprint. It cannot accommodate the desired soccer and baseball fields to make it a premier facility.

Logistics are terrible. Naranja Drive is a crowded two lane road. Weekend tournaments would detour local traffic to Tangerine and Lambert.

Competition is growing. Pima County has repurposed Kino stadium, converting baseball fields to soccer and added a stadium. Mr. Huckleberry then purchased 167 acres across I-10 for $8.5 million and will build 18 new soccer fields  in 2019. 

The irony here is that our property taxes are funding Huckleberry’s adventure and now Mayor Hiremath wants to tax us again to build “ Kino lite.”

Stop this sports tourism pipe dream, vote “no” on property tax 454.

— Chet Oldakowski 

 

So It’s All About the Kids?

Just received the voters’ pamphlet for the upcoming bond election for a property tax on Oro Valley homes to build out Naranja Town Park.  The proponents claim it’s for the kids to play team sports. I agree that it is important to have places for children to play in a safe environment.

I also believe that it’s important that we teach children some other things.

You don’t get something you can’t pay for at the time you want it. You budget for it, and when you can pay for it, you buy it. You don’t ask other people to pay for things you want. You know...it’s the “pay as you go” system, as our former town manager promised our town would do after  the failed 2008 bond attempt for the same park. 

Fiscal responsibility is important. Earn the money to pay for what you want. If the money isn’t there at the time you want something, you make a plan to get what you want, and you save for it. You do bake sales.  Maybe you ask a business school class to come up with some creative ideas on how to budget so that we can afford the park.

Patience truly is a virtue. We teach that to impetuous children when they are acting up. You don’t celebrate Christmas in October just because children want to know what Santa brought them.

Fairness supersedes wants. Is it really fair to ask approximately 40,000 citizens to pay for what 300 children want?

What this bond is doing is teaching children to be entitled, to think that their needs are more important than the bulk of the town citizens. We are taking on $23,000,000 of debt for 300 children! That’s $76,666 per child (.006 of the population of Oro Valley).

What this bond is teaching me is that our Town Council needs to go back to the budget to figure out what will get built next, not tax people to pay for something we can’t yet afford.

—Devon Sloan

 

Why The Lie?

In Mr. [Mike] Zinkin’s argument against the Naranja Park Bond in the Voter Pamphlet, he states that every Town employee received “a 4 [percent] raise for the past 8 years”. 

This is false, and Zinkin, who was on Town Council, knows this to be false. Town employees received no raises from 2009 through 2012. However, due to improved finances, they did receive a 3.5 to 4 percent raise in 2013 through 2016. Zinkin’s “no” argument is based upon his incorrect premise that the town is a poor steward of taxpayer money, and he uses false numbers to try and support his position. 

Contrary to Zinkin’s claims of poor financial management, the town ended this year nearly $2 million in the black due to town staff and council constantly striving to provide the best possible services at the lowest possible costs. Why does Mr. Zinkin knowingly propagate false information, as opposed to letting the voters decide the park bond measure based upon the true facts? (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

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

 

Find a better way

I read the Explorer to keep track of events occurring in my community of Oro Valley. Currently, the topic of most interest to me is the debate regarding Proposition 454, funding for Naranja Park improvements. I must confess that those comments of my neighbors that demean, insult or otherwise vilify our town officials causes me to discount their opinions about the election. 

I think it is important for all of us to disagree from time to time over issues of importance in our town and to make others aware of our disagreement. However, there is no good reason to be disagreeable. Too much of this poisonous rhetoric infuses our national politics, we can do better here in our town. 

All of us need to take a deep breath, take a factual approach in arguing our position and leave out the personal attacks in discussing the proposed bond. It’s no small wonder why we have trouble attracting candidates to run for public office in this atmosphere.

—Gerald Perry

 

To the NFL

I am a 78-year-old disabled vet and totally disgusted with the manner in which the kneeling NFL players are disrespecting our flag, our veterans who fought and died for our freedom and our government. Any way you slice it, they are disrespecting our flag and the republic for which it stands. They can claim the moon is made of green cheese, but it doesn’t make it true.

I have watched the NFL since the mid-fifties when the great Jim Brown played for Syracuse and then the Cleveland Browns, and he never disrespected our flag, our government and our veterans like these ignorant NFL players, like Ray Lewis from the Ravens did. One knee was not enough. No, he had to kneel on both knees and when confronted he said he was praying, right?

Anyone who believes him is either stupid or so naive that they would fall for anything. I never though I would ever see Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys join those ignorant players in disrespecting our flag and our veterans, but he did. This will be the last time I look at these prima donna millionaire crybabies that make millions and then bite the hand that feeds them, they should be fired.

While players are in uniform they are working for us and theoretically do not have the right to make any political statement or activism gesture. Roger Goodell made a huge mistake by not stopping Colin Kaepernick last year when he started kneeling. The players are not supposed to celebrate while on the field, but somehow theis very disrespectful gesture was allowed. When the National Anthem is played, place your hand over heart and stand, simple.

I believe that anyone has the right to protest, but do it on your own time and in the correct manner. If they feel they have a case, go protest to the right people, the right place and after the game. Not during the National Anthem. I doubt none of them served in our military, as evidenced by their stupid behavior. If they served, they would have more respect for our veterans and stand.

—William Freeman

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