Happy New Year Everyone!
2020 was a challenging year for all of us. During 2019, Preserve Vistoso focused on growing membership and obtaining our 501(c)(3) status. In 2020, we continued to grow our membership and took direct steps to ensure the Vistoso property is retained as open or recreational space.
We started the year by pushing the Town of Oro Valley to acknowledge that communities north of Tangerine have unmet needs and our residents should be included in the Town's Parks and Recreation Assessment. The Assessment confirmed what we already knew, that the residents of Oro Valley desire more trails and conservation of open space.
In March, Romspen filed a General Plan Amendment (GPA) asking the Town to change the zoning of a large portion of the Vistoso property from recreational space to residential space. You opposed this plan and let the Town Council know with a record number of emails, phone calls, and participants in Zoom meetings. Instead of in-person meetings to speak directly to Romspen, we sat isolated at home and watched a video where Romspen claimed it had received no credible offers for the property. Many suspected this was untrue and the issue was that Romspen was asking for more than the property was worth. This suspicion was confirmed when The Conservation Fund (TCF) made a cash Fair Market Value (FMV) offer for the Vistoso property based on an appraisal by a leading national appraisal firm, but Romspen turned it down. We suspect Romspen is holding out for more with the expectation that they can convince Town Council to vote against community wishes and change the zoning of the property.
Preserve Vistoso members and supporters were vocal in Zoom Town meetings, sent hundreds of e-mails to Town officials, and pledged money to Preserve Vistoso and The Conservation Fund to have the property turned into a nature preserve to benefit the entire community. Although we were still in the early phases of fundraising efforts when Romspen rejected TCF’s FMV offer, Preserve Vistoso members had pledged more than $1.5 million toward the purchase of the property. We were told that your passion and willingness to provide financial support was a large factor in the Town Council's unanimous decision to direct Town Staff to negotiate the sale of the property in November. We need to keep up those efforts in 2021.
Preserve Vistoso will continue to update you on negotiations and let you know when we restart fundraising activities or rally volunteers to help ensure the property retains recreational or open space zoning. In 2021, we ask you to:
Encourage your friends and neighbors to go to our website and join Preserve Vistoso by sharing how preserving the property as open space will protect wildlife and provide Oro Valley with a much-needed community trail north of Tangerine.
Participate in Town Council and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meetings. We will keep you updated on the meetings you should attend but you can also find the information on https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/Departments/Town-Clerk/Meetings-and-Agendas. Although we encourage everyone to speak up on the issues you care about, please know that just calling in to listen to Town Council meetings is also a strong message of support. They announce how many people are attending via Zoom. High attendance shows the Town that we are passionate and supportive of efforts to retain the recreation and open space we all crave and love.
If you have experience, skills, or interest in helping with membership drives or fundraising, please consider joining Preserve Vistoso as a volunteer by emailing PreserveVistoso@gmail.com.
At the end of each year, we invite members to apply for the Preserve Vistoso board. Each January the current board selects new board members and the new board elects officers for the upcoming year. It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as the President of Preserve Vistoso for the past two years. Due to my work schedule and health issues of a close family member, I am not running for President in 2021, but I look forward to supporting the new leadership team in any capacity I can. It is critical for Romspen to see that Preserve Vistoso is much larger than a few homeowners or our board of directors. Many times, Romspen representatives have said they will just wait us out. They don't understand that, unlike them, Oro Valley is our home and we aren't planning to go anywhere.
I have seen firsthand how committed residents are to protect the things that make Oro Valley such a special place to live. I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in 2021.
President, Preserve Vistoso