Preserve Vistoso Annual Report 2021
2021 was a very good year thanks to you!
In October 2021, Mike Ford and The Conservation Fund (TCF) secured an agreement with Romspen to purchase the 202-acre Vistoso property. TCF will finalize the agreement in the next few weeks. We raised $1.8 million for TCF to purchase the property in just two months.
Many of you have been involved in this community effort since 2018 when the former golf course closed. You are part of Preserve Vistoso, our community nonprofit 501(c)(3) founded in 2019 that now has almost 2,000 members. You sent thousands of emails to Town Council members and spoke at Town Council meetings, preventing proposed housing developments on the property. You encouraged the Town to get involved in negotiations to preserve the property. Your efforts made sure that the property owner, Romspen, knew that we were not going away. You made the agreement to preserve the Vistoso property as open space possible.
We cheered when TCF announced in April that it had been invited to resume formal discussions and negotiations with the Town of Oro Valley and representatives from Romspen to purchase the property. The Town Council publicly reaffirmed its commitment to our community and unanimously voted in July to ensure that the Vistoso property would be preserved as open space.
With your support we worked hard in 2021 to get the word out about our mission and grow our membership. Preserve Vistoso members set up information tables at the Oro Valley library and at the Saturday Oro Valley Farmers Market. We prepared two dozen Pulse information emails to help keep you informed and distributed flyers door-to-door throughout our communities to increase awareness of our efforts. Preserve Vistoso representatives spoke on local podcasts, provided interviews to community news media and posted information on community social media pages. The Preserve Vistoso website was redesigned to communicate the natural beauty of this Sonoran Desert landscape and why it should be preserved.
In September, the Town Council approved a resolution to facilitate completion of negotiations for the purchase of the 202 acres of the former Vistoso golf course by TCF. The Town Council, Town Attorney and Town Manager had been involved in negotiations since November 2020 and this motion authorized Town Management to take the necessary final steps to ensure the transaction was completed. The support of Mayor Winfield, Vice Mayor Barrett, Town Council members, Town Attorney and Town Manager was critical to our achieving the community goal of preserving the Vistoso property.
TCF announced in late October that it had signed a contract with Romspen to purchase the 202-acre property. The Preserve Vistoso fundraising team conducted hundreds of Zoom and in-person meetings, phone calls and emails to explain the project and solicit donations. By late November our community had raised the $1.8 million to purchase the property. Our efforts were covered by local newspapers and TV stations. You can view our media coverage at preservevistoso.org.
In the near future, TCF will complete the purchase of the Vistoso property zoned recreational and place a conservation easement on the property to protect it in perpetuity as open space. The conservation easement will define exactly what will be allowed and what will be prohibited. It would allow hiking trails, trail heads and parking areas, but ball parks and amphitheaters, for example, would not be allowed on the property.
In a separate agreement facilitated by the Town of Oro Valley, a well-known Tucson developer will purchase six acres of the property that includes the parking lot and former clubhouse and is zoned high density residential. Any development of the property will be subject to all existing zoning constraints.
The agreement for TCF to purchase of the Vistoso property and our successful two-month community fundraising of $1.8 million obviously were the highlights of 2021, but prior to that our 2021 year began with new Preserve Vistoso board members. Terry Hart (Summit South), Nancy Olson (Fairfield) and Jennifer Seaman (Somerset Canyon) joined our board of directors. Gayle Mateer was elected President, succeeding founding member, Michael Bilodeau, as president. Information on our board members is available at preservevistoso.org.
We are committed to keep you updated on our new Vistoso nature preserve and let you know when the purchase is finalized. We anticipate that TCF will own the property for about six months before the expected transfer of the nature preserve to the Town of Oro Valley.
Thank you for your support and for making our dream of a community nature preserve a reality.
President of Preserve Vistoso