Read the latest PRESERVE VISTOSO PULSE as well as articles from other publications about our Vision and actions.
SUPPORT TOWN COUNCIL'S EFFORTS TO NEGOTIATE SALE OF VISTOSO PROPERTY
January 4, 2021 -- We hope everyone had a safe and healthy holiday season and that 2021 is a great year for you and your family. Also on our 2021 wish list is that the Town completes a successful negotiation with Romspen for the purchase of the Vistoso Property. You may remember that on November 18, 2020, Town Council unanimously approved a motion by Mayor Winfield to direct Town Management to begin discussions with Romspen to negotiate a sale of the Vistoso property. It is important that Preserve Vistoso members attend Town meetings that include an agenda item on the Vistoso Property, including a meeting on Wednesday (January 6).
Click here for the agenda for the Wednesday, January 6, Town Council Meeting (via ZOOM).
From the agenda, we know that there is a Town Council Executive Session:
“Regarding the property commonly known as the former Vistoso Golf Course, pursuant to A.R.S. section 38-431.03(A)(3), (4) and/or (7): 1) Discussion or consultation for legal advice with the Town attorney or attorneys, and/or; 2) Discussion or consultation with the Town attorney or attorneys in order to consider its position and instruct its attorneys regarding the public body's position regarding contracts that are the subject of negotiations, in contemplated litigation or in settlement discussions conducted in order to avoid or resolve litigation, and/or; 3) Discussions or consultations with designated representatives of the Town in order to consider its position and instruct its representatives regarding negotiations for the purchase, sale or lease of real property.”
We do not know what might be discussed (if anything) once Council returns from this executive session. If there is discussion, we urge members to offer support for the Council’s efforts. We urge you to thank members of the Council for supporting our efforts to preserve the Vistoso property. Every voice from our community is important. We can speak up in meetings, send emails to Council members or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can check the dates of the Council meetings and the agendas here. Most meetings are on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 6:00 PM.
Information on Maintenance Costs of Vistoso Property
If the Vistoso property is used as a natural desert park, maintenance costs should be relatively low. The property is especially suited for conversion into a nature preserve type of park. It is natural desert environment with six miles of paved trails. There are roadway underpasses so hikers and bikers on the trail don’t need to cross local streets. Three restrooms are located at different points along the trail. The views from the trail of the nearby mountain ranges are spectacular. This park will provide a healthy recreation experience for residents of all ages and abilities.
Since the property is envisioned to be primarily a natural, open space, the maintenance requirements of this nature park are expected to be low. The main areas that would need to be maintained are the path, the restrooms and the access areas. One of the large, local landscape companies estimates that the cost to maintain these features could be around $54,000 per year.
Preserving this land for Oro Valley recreation use not only serves to provide a place for residents to enjoy outdoor recreation, but it will also provide a sanctuary for the wildlife that live on the property and use it to travel between wildlife habitats. In addition to the abundant wildlife, the property has a history of native people living on this land. Petroglyphs exist on the property, evidence it was once home to early inhabitants in this area including Sleeping Snake Village.
Preserve Vistoso and its 1,350 members are encouraged that the vision we have for this property will soon become a reality. We thank the Oro Valley Mayor, Vice Mayor, Town Council members and Town Management for their continued efforts.
PRESERVE VISTOSO RESPONDS TO INACCURATE COMMENTS AT TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
November 23, 2020 -- At last week’s Town Council meeting Mayor Winfield proposed that the Town initiate communications with Romspen to negotiate the sale of the former Vistoso Golf Course to keep it zoned as open space. The Council voted unanimously to support this motion. We thank the Town Council for approving this action and we look forward to hearing updates on their progress as they engage with Romspen.
During that meeting a few residents made disparaging and inaccurate comments about Preserve Vistoso. We know that volunteer community boards can face criticism, but it is unfortunate that the Preserve Vistoso board was accused of somehow engaging in backroom efforts to pursue a separate deal. Those comments aren’t true and should not detract from the dedicated efforts of our members and our board to let the Town Council know that we want to protect this beautiful desert property.
Here are some facts:
Preserve Vistoso is a 501c3. We publicly supported The Conservation Fund (TCF) and its efforts to buy the property. Our members pledged more than $1.5 million to help TCF purchase the property. This included more than $200,000 in pledges from our board. We also fully supported TCF offering Fair Market Value for the property.
Preserve Vistoso has NEVER pursued or proposed any side deals with Romspen. We are not working on any other offer. Prior to our partnership with TCF, we distributed Romspen’s development plans to secure input from a few members of our community. The maps we sent to residents reflected the Romspen development plans for their neighborhood. Based on community comments, the Preserve Vistoso board agreed to oppose Romspen's proposed development plans. Suggesting that reviewing Romspen's plan meant that we were going to propose a side deal with Romspen is totally inaccurate.
As a community driven organization, we send out regular updates to our members and have an email address available for members to ask questions. We have a website that identifies our board members. We participate at Vistoso Community Association (VCA) board meetings, which is open to all Rancho Vistoso members and we provide information for the VCA monthly newsletter. The public is invited to learn more about us at preservevistoso.org.
Our commitment is to ensure that the Vistoso property remains open space and is protected by a permanent conservation easement.
ORO VALLEY MAYOR JOE WINFIELD PROPOSES
TOWN NEGOTIATE THE SALE OF
THE VISTOSO PROPERTY
November 20, 2020 – The Town Council on November 18 approved 7-0 a motion by Mayor Joe Winfield and seconded by Council Member Joyce Jones-Ivey to negotiate the sale of the Vistoso Property from Romspen Investments. You can view the Town Council meeting here. Mayor Winfield’s proposal is 2:29:40 into the meeting.
The Mayor’s proposal was:
“I move to direct the Town Manager and Town Attorneys as follows: first to initiate communications with Romspen and any other third parties in their discretion in an effort to negotiate the sale subject to Mayor and Council approval of acreage at the former Vistoso Golf Course zoned open space/golf for fair market value on or before April 1, 2021, and second to keep council regularly informed on the status of these efforts.”
We urge you to thank Mayor Winfield for this proposal and thank Council Members for their support. Town Council information can be found here. We will keep you informed, but anticipate it will take time for the Town to initiate conversations with Romspen.
Parks and Recreation Master Plan
The Wednesday Town Council meeting also included discussion of Town Management’s Parks and Recreation Master Plan for the next 10 to 15 years. Vice Mayor Melanie Barrett (2:37:10) said that she felt the plans being developed might not reflect the needs of 40 percent of the residents who live north of Tangerine. She referred to the Master Plan needs assessment and statistically valid survey that indicated our community wants trails, walking paths and open space. She said the Town’s current long term planning should address those needs. She also said that the needs of seniors (49 percent of Town population) should be included in the Master Plan. We applaud Vice Mayor Barrett for speaking up for our community.
Many of you participated in the Parks and Recreation Master Plan meetings. We have an opportunity to express our opinions during community input from November 18th through December 18th. The concept plans are posted at “Discuss” on Town of Oro Valley web page for community comment which you can find here. Submit your comments and be sure to ask that the Master Plan includes the Vistoso property as a community park. We also want the Master Plan to recognize that the community wants trails and open space. Here is a link to a PDF of the "Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Master Plan Community Interest and Opinion Survey" where you can find the details of the communities responses.
New Members of Board of Directors
We’d also like to remind you that we are looking for new Board members. Go to PreserveVistoso.org for more information. We will meet with interested members in December and will announce new Board members at our Jan. 22 meeting.
NOTES FROM NOVEMBER 12 MEETING VOICING CONCERNS REGARDING THE TOWN'S PARKS AND REC PLANS LACK OF INVESTMENT IN RANCHO VISTOSO
November 12, 2020 - A consultant’s report and 10-year vision and concept plan for Oro Valley Parks and Recreation does not address the priority recreational needs of our Rancho Vistoso community. We hope you will attend the November 12 Parks and Rec open forum at 6:00 pm to voice your opinion. The meeting link can be found here under "Needs Assessment and Master Plan documents." (It is part way down the page in a group of blue boxes with titles).
There also is a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Tuesday, November 17. You can join this meeting to voice concerns that the Consultant’s vision does not match the recreational priorities identified by the community. The link to join this meeting will be posted on Oro Valley’s Meeting and Agenda pages which you will be able to access here.
Based on surveys and community input, the top priorities of the Oro Valley community are investments in open space and trails. The report from PROS Consulting ignores these priority needs. We need to emphasize that one of the goals in the consultant’s report should be providing trails and open space in Rancho Vistoso.
The report does not recommend any investments in Rancho Vistoso and focuses on making improvements and adding amenities to existing parks and facilities in the center of Town. The Town’s recreational investment is almost exclusively between Lambert Lane and Naranja Drive.
PROS Consulting highlighted service areas by “Equity Mapping” and included service area circles. These maps do not include most of Rancho Vistoso or Sun City. The Town of Oro Valley is not planning to invest in any parks and recreation facilities or programs north of Tangerine.
It has been a long running policy of the Town Management to label Rancho Vistoso and Sun City as “self sufficient” communities. What seems at odd with Rancho Vistoso being called self sufficient is that the consultant’s report also said that the Vistoso Community Association HOA mini-parks have almost no recreational value and that HOA funding is not secure to keep these parks operating. That has been evident during our pandemic as the HOA mini- parks did not have the resources to remain open, but the Town parks received federal funds to keep many of its parks open.
Rancho Vistoso and Sun City are about 40 percent of the Town’s population. We have been part of Oro Valley since 1987. We pay taxes to support Oro Valley services and government. We pay HOA dues to support our so-called mini-parks.
You can listen to the consultant’s presentation here and start listening 9 minutes 30 seconds into the meeting.
You can also listen here to an Oro Valley Podcast with a Preserve Vistoso representative discussing how the vision presented in the Parks and Rec study does not meet the priorities voiced by the community.
NOVEMBER 12 MEETING VOICING CONCERNS ABOUT PARKS AND REC PLANS FOR FUTURE
October 28, 2020 - The consultant hired by Oro Valley, Michael Svetz from PROS Consulting, presented initial planning recommendations for the Town’s Parks and Recreation facilities on October 20. The meeting video is here. You can start listening to the meeting 9 minutes 30 seconds into the meeting.
PROS Consulting presented maps showing that Oro Valley had not invested in recreational facilities north of Tangerine. Svetz highlighted service areas by “Equity Mapping” and included service area circles. These maps do not include most of Rancho Vistoso or Sun City (30 minutes, 45 seconds into meeting). If the Town accepts the conceptual plans presented, no new investments will be made in or around Rancho Vistoso or Sun City. In the presentation, Svetz also said that Rancho Vistoso micro-parks have little recreational value.
Earlier this year, many of you participated in the initial survey of community needs. The top three priorities of our community are: Natural surface trails; multi-used paved trails; and open space conservation area/trails (12 minutes, 46 seconds into meeting). Outside of adding trails to Naranja Park and creating a performance area at Steam Pump Ranch, the consultant’s concept plans do not address these top ranked community needs. Svetz suggested plans focused on making improvements and adding amenities to the Town’s existing parks and facilities in the center of Town: The Community Center; Naranja Park; Riverfront Park; James D. Kriegh Park; and Steam Pump Ranch. There was no mention of the needs of senior citizens, some 49 percent of the Town’s population.
There was an open community forum on November 12 at 6 pm about the Parks and Rec study. We encourage you to participate and express your opinions about open space, trails and the lack of Oro Valley recreational facilities in Rancho
Members of Preserve Vistoso packed Town Hall in January at the initial meeting for the Parks and Rec study. We said that the needs of Rancho Vistoso should be considered in this study. Apparently we were not heard, even though Rancho Vistoso and Sun City make us 40 percent of the Town’s population. That makes it important that we attend and speak at the November 12 meeting.
If you have comments you’d like to share with the Town about the meeting, you can email email@example.com or email Town Council members.
Preserve Vistoso members have shown overwhelming support to preserve the Vistoso properties as a nature preserve and community trail. The Preserve Vistoso Board thanks you.
Let your voice be heard.
Let us know what you think, email us at:
Michigan Golf Course becomes Nature Preserve
An Example for our Efforts
Former Harbor Springs golf club reopens as 280-acre nature preserve
Updated Jul 06, 2020; Posted Jul 06, 2020