As part of an ongoing campaign to inform townspeople of the Naranja Town Site plan, Oro Valley officials held an open house last Tuesday at Wilson K-8 School.
About 57 people strolled through the open house, where town officials and elected representatives were on hand to explain the November bond election and what features the 213-acre park could have.
“I think it would be wonderful,” Alison Sutton-Ryan said.
The mother of two children, ages 7 and 5, sees the park as a potential boost to the quality of life enjoyed in the town.
“I think Oro Valley has excellent parks — this would offer the sports fields,” Sutton-Ryan said.
With kids old enough to participate in team sports like soccer, Sutton-Ryan said it would be nice not to have to drive down into Tucson or over to Marana for games.
Last month, council members voted to place the park issue on the November election ballot. Voters will decide whether to approve the municipal bond-financed park with an estimated $48-million price tag.
By approving the measure, townspeople would agree to a secondary property tax of 48 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
The property tax would remain active for the 20-year bond schedule.
Attendees of the Wilson school open house viewed poster-board renderings of the proposed park as well as a glimpse of the town’s updated Naranja Town Site Web pages. The new site is linked to the town’s home page.
For families with children tired of driving across southern Arizona for youth sport activities, the park would be a boon. At the open house, residents with grown kids or none at all found favor with the plan.
“I think it looks great, and I’m in favor of it,” Renee Hobrock said.
Hobrock, who doesn’t have children, lives directly east of the Naranja site in a neighborhood that would share a border with a potentially bustling park.
“Some of my neighbors are concerned,” Hobrock said.
Their apprehensions focus on worries that field lighting in the park could be a disturbance. Literature distributed by the town indicates the park’s lighting would comply with Oro Valley’s commitment to “maintaining a dark sky.”
The high cost of the park also has Hobrock slightly apprehensive, but on the whole, she views the plan as a positive for the town.
“I’m the type of person who thinks we need to do things for the common good. This is a benefit to Oro Valley,” Hobrock said.
While the possibility to have an amenity-laden park in Oro Valley thrills some, others see the plan as a $48-million gilded highway to insolvency. Estimated annual operating costs are $1.2 million.
At least one naysayer sits on the town council.
“It’s ill-timed to saddle the public with a $48-million property tax,” said Councilman K.C. Carter. The councilman has opposed the bond proposal from the start, primarily on financial grounds.
If voters approve the bond measure, a secondary property tax will ensue to pay off costs incurred during construction of the park. Carter has been steadfast in his contention that residents won’t approve additional taxes.
“It’s not going to fly,” Carter said.
Oro Valley residents have to wait until November to see if voters agree that a 213-acre park adds measurably to their quality of life or if a property tax, in a town that long-prided itself for low taxes, is more than they can support.