Letters to Editor

Political Pawns

Our town is growing. Whether you embrace that growth or fight it, the fact remains. What we, the voters of Oro Valley must decide is how we direct that growth. What kind of community do we want to be? Will we support the quality of life issues that make Oro Valley a great place to live, to work and to raise a family? Or will we let political rivalries get in the way of our shared values?

With so many kids participating in youth sports like soccer, football, lacrosse, softball and baseball, there simply aren’t enough fields to go around. In addition to youth sports, adult and senior leagues are becoming more popular than ever, but without enough fields, we’re forcing them out of town. Prop 454 would add seven additional fields to alleviate the congestion. In addition to the fields themselves, Prop 454 would fund restrooms, parking lots, ramadas, and a playground. 

The primary purpose of Naranja Park is to serve the recreation needs of our growing town. But, it’s also worth noting the economic opportunity we have if we expand Naranja Park. As a recent episode of HBO’s Real Sports reported, “travel sports” has become a $9 billion a year industry in America. The expansion at Naranja Park would allow Oro Valley to capitalize on this trend by hosting youth, adult and senior sports tournaments, attracting athletes and families from across the country. We are currently missing out on this opportunity because we simply don’t have enough fields. 

The average homeowner will be asked to pay an additional $4.50 per month to fund the park improvements. That’s a small price to pay to ensure a better future for our kids, for our seniors, and for our community. I urge the voters of Oro Valley to not let petty political differences get in the way of doing the right thing. Vote “yes” on 454. 

—Brian Mitchell

Brian Mitchell is the chairman of YES on 454— Naranja Park Bond committee.

 

Fiscal Foolery?

Oro Valley is a fine town, but poorly led and managed at a magnificently excess expense. I bought a home in Oro Valley three years ago, after living in 10 municipalities in eight states. All were run competently and ethically except for, you guessed it, Oro Valley.

Since my home purchase date, it has become evident that few of the elected officials in Oro Valley have any capability whatsoever in terms of financial management, spending or budgeting skills. In council meetings they defer to town staff because they don’t know enough to ask intelligent questions in the best interests of the town and its taxpayers.

The latest example of this disregard for fiscal responsibility is the bond Proposition 454 which would tax all Oro Valley property owners $28 million for the rapid overbuilding of Naranja Park. This decision affecting us all was made in two weeks (minimum required by state law) without any public meetings, discussion or debate.

There are other better solutions for building youth sports fields but none were considered.  The $17 million proposed cost (plus $11 million interest) shows that no one at town hall is even slightly skilled at procurement, negotiating skills or worse, they are just “padding the number”. 

The Naranja Park plan on a factual basis is incompetent and developed without the interests of the citizens who would be duped into paying for the facilities as proposed. With only a significant minority of students of Oro Valley students playing outdoor sports we must wonder what these excess facilities are being developed for.  Pima County?  Mayor Hiremath’s Sports Tourism Dream?  Or perhaps just to spend other people’s money again?

Finally, the additional sports facilities at $5.6 MM represent only one third of the $17 million cost, so where is the other $11.4 million going, and why?  Remember this is the same crew that said trust us and then raised town sales taxes to buy three losing golf courses.

I am voting “no” on proposition 454. The only way to control the town’s fiscal irresponsibility at all of our expense is to restrict our elected leaders from taxing “other people’s money” while again spending foolishly on their half-baked, ill-conceived pet projects.

—Brian F. Gagan

 

Teams Need Fields

My sons, ages 7 and 11, play tackle football for the OV Dolphins, lacrosse for the OV Lacrosse Club and baseball for CDO Little League. Clearly, our family has a vested interest in the outcome of the Naranja Park Bond issue. 

The OV Dolphins vie for the limited field space at Naranja Park during the start of our season. We are then relegated to the auxiliary fields at CDO High School. These fields are poorly maintained and cost our organization a tremendous amount of money. The undulating fields that our over 200 athletes practice on at CDO are riddled with gopher holes and inhabited by snakes. The grass is often not mowed and the fields are not lit. Our organization purchased and maintains our own generator driven lights that only provide limited lighting to allow our athletes to practice. 

Many times, our athletes’ injuries are due to the unsafe conditions of these fields rather than the actual sport itself. By approving the Naranja Park Bond, you will be providing not only our 200 plus athletes, but the thousands of other Oro Valley youth and amateur athletes safe, well maintained and well lit fields to practice their sports. 

The additional field space will also provide an untapped income stream into our community. We will have fields to host large-scale tournaments inviting teams throughout Arizona. This will bring in thousands of athletes and fans that will stay in our hotels, shop at our stores and eat in our restaurants. I urge you to approve the bond this November to provide our community with additional revenue and our young athletes with sufficient fields to safely participate in their sport. 

—Holly Wertz

Editor’s note: Holly Wertz is a board member for the Oro Valley Dolphins Football Cheer Organization.

 

Fantastic Financials

The Town of Oro Valley ended our 2016/2017 fiscal year nearly $2 million in the black! While providing our town residents with outstanding services in public safety, roads and infrastructure, parks, aquatics, children and senior programs and our Dial-A-Ride program, the town increased our reserve fund to $12.5 million. 

This is due to the efforts of our town staff and council constantly striving to provide the best possible services at the lowest possible costs. The facts clearly speak for themselves: Oro Valley is an example of excellent local government fiscal responsibility. A recent letter to the editor from the “Ax The Tax” group attempted to reflect a completely erroneous picture of our town finances by ignoring revenue sources and the “bottom line” of a near $2,000,000 surplus. Apparently, this gross misrepresentation was intended to convince residents to vote against the Naranja Park Bond (Prop. 454) measure. Regardless of one’s opinion of this bond it is important to base your decision on the facts and merits, not intentional misrepresentations. 

—Steve Solomon

Editor’s Note: Steve Solomon is a sitting councilmember in the Town of Oro Valley.

 

Not for all

As a retiree and 25 year resident of Oro Valley I have observed a major transition by the Town Council. Decisions of the latest Town Councils seem to reflect a desire to spend and expand but without accountability.

Some 10 years ago after acquiring the Steam Pump Ranch property, a Master Planning process was started and completed. What has been done to improve that property? It is still an eye sore to those driving by on Oracle Road.

Having abandoned Steam Pump, the Town Council next opted to buy what is now the Community Center and increased the local sales tax to pay for it. The council successfully avoided a citizen vote on that project which continues to lose money on both its golf and restaurant operations.

So having messed up on Steam Pump and the Recreation Center, the Council now wants to piece meal the development of the Naranja Park site, a property acquired some 15 or more years ago. Catering to the soccer Moms and Dads, the entire 454 program calls for the development of multi-sports fields. What facilities are included for residents without .minor children (seniors and middle aged)? These folks would pay an OV property tax for 20 years to pay for the facilities they will not use. Having driven around most of Oro Valley for over 25 years, it is my opinion that there are adequate and little used sports facilities on school grounds and existing parks.

Past members of the Town Council ran on a promise of no local property tax. How things have changed! The last three Council members who had the courage and foresight to challenge decisions are gone. Hopefully, the November vote will prove they have not been forgotten.

—Charles Walton

 

Child-Friendly

There is a meme floating about. Being against the Prop 454 secondary property tax for immediate build out of Naranja Park sports fields somehow means you are “against children.” 

This is false. The town’s current budget includes two additional lighted multi-sport fields at Naranja, bringing the total to four by February. So, citizens are being asked to pay $28 million (cost over 20 year term) for three more multi-sports fields and four diamond fields. Lighted fields such as these should cost approximately $350-450K each, easily added on a pay as you go basis. There is no crisis.

Ironically, the exact time Naranja Park’s Master Plan was approved by Town Council in 2015, the Majority 4 (Mayor and three current Council members) controversially encumbered the town to purchase the El Conquistador Country Club, 45 holes of golf and restaurant. They instituted a half-cent sales tax increase raising over $2 million per year in hopes of covering losses. However, losses continue, greatly exceeding this threshold. Yet golf memberships have dwindled to around 238. Golf is mostly played by the elder set. There are seven golf courses in/around Oro Valley. In 2015, the Council had a choice - to invest in fields for kids or golf for seniors. They chose the latter and diverted over $2Million per year- and counting - to a failing project. It was the Council who decided to put the needs of kids second. So who is really “against children”?

—Teresa Fitzgerald

 

For the bond

Recent letters in this space have addressed the issues surrounding the upcoming bond vote in November related to Naranja Park. Regardless of your stance on the bond issue, there is a thread which shows up in a number of the arguments: Somehow Oro Valley Town Council is attempting to take money from the town’s residents and use it to expand Naranja Park. Having been at the Town Council meetings and listened to the discussions and the subsequent vote, this is exactly what the Town Council did not do. 

Council, when presented with difficulty of upgrades to Naranja Park beyond and in addition to the pay-as-you go planning already in place, did exactly the right thing—it referred the matter to the residents of the town. Council did not bind the town to additional costs for the park. They effectively said, “If you, the residents, want park upgrades sooner rather than the gradual process currently in place, then this will be the cost.” 

We all want to see Oro Valley be a place that encourages outdoor activities. Fast tracking park upgrades at a cost to the residents is one way to do that. Oro Valley Town Council wisely has given residents options and is allowing residents to vote on the taxing themselves if they wish fast track improvements. This process cannot get more democratic and inclusive. Whichever way you vote on the issue, this was Town Council making sure that, if you want to tax yourselves, you will have to cast your vote to do so.

—Charlie Hurt

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