Naranja Park quails

The Naranja Park site will benefit from a new play structure in the 2019-20 fiscal year.

A series of improvements to Oro Valley’s parks is on the way, with the venerable James D. Kreigh and Naranja Park both receiving support. 

Infrastructure improvements are planned for both facilities over the coming years. JDK park will benefit from an improved irrigation system, field leveling, new turf and updated restrooms, according to Oro Valley Parks & Recreation Director Kristi Diaz-Trahan. 

Elsewhere, frequenters of Naranja Park will find a new set of playground equipment, valued at $350,000, planned for the 2019-20 fiscal year. 

The Naranja improvements, which were originally slated for the 2022-23 fiscal year in the park’s master plan, will help bolster younger families visiting the facility, said Oro Valley councilmember Mary Snider. 

“We have two large flat fields that draw a lot of flat field activities, and that brings a lot of families and tournaments in,” Snider said. “We need some place for siblings to play on, and more importantly, we need to support younger families in the community.”

Snider said the Naranja improvements, which will be funded as part of the town’s Capital Improvement Program in combination with potential grants that are expected for September from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, were the net result of residents voting down Prop. 454 last year.

Snider said that defeat sent a clear message that residents wanted their parks funded on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis, prioritizing those that have the most need. 

“That’s why these projects are spread out over fiscal years, and we do have a plan for that,” she said. “And then we listen to our residents and continue to survey what’s the next thing that needs to be done, and right now these two projects are at the top.”

Longtime Canyon del Oro Little League supporters, like League President Heidi Tarbet, say the field improvements at JDK are greatly appreciated. 

Tarbet, whose two sons both played for the little league at the park over the past three decades, understands the council’s funding predicament, thanking them for prioritizing the safety of young athletes using the facility. 

“I think they’re trying to do the right thing. I don’t even know the last time they renovated or reseeded the fields and there are a lot of divots and damage on them, which leads to parents complaining,” Tarbet said. “So, I think that this will improve everything, it’s just better and safer for the kids, and we definitely need baseball fields, they’re hard to come by.”

Others, like Oro Valley Sports Alliance President Fred Narcaroti, believe the field improvements at JDK can send a positive message to town residents. 

Narcaroti understands the importance of youth sports, both in terms of breeding competition and boosting the town’s image by hosting noteworthy tournaments and events. 

“I think it’s very important that we invest the improvements in the infrastructure at JDK. It’s one of those things that is highly utilized by youth and adult athletics alike,” Narcaroti said. “And it’s a signature park in our town that happens to be the only baseball fields available in our town, other than Coronado Park in Catalina.”

The improvements at Kreigh Park, named for the town’s founder, are budgeted at $325,000 in the town’s 2018-19 fiscal year portion of the CIP, while the playground improvements at Naranja will cost an estimated $350,000. 

For Diaz-Trahan, the council’s decision to invest in said infrastructure improvements serve as an additional reminder of the work that’s necessary to provide top-notch facilities for the community. 

“This project aligns with the high-quality parks, recreation and open space system that is accessible, comprehensive, connected and serves the community’s needs,” she said.

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