Preserve Vistoso Pulse Published in 2021 July - December
July 12, 2021
TOWN COUNCIL CONFIRMS COMMITMENT TO NEGOTIATIONS TO ACQUIRE THE VISTOSO GOLF PROPERTY
July 12, 2021-- The July 7th Oro Valley Town Council meeting included an agenda item discussion on progress toward the purchase of the Vistoso Golf Property to preserve it as open space. The Mayor opened the agenda item with request for community comments. Several members of our community voiced concerns about our desire to see the purchase of the Vistoso Golf Property completed. Those comments were excellent and represented our community’s frustration that the deal to purchase the property has not been reached. Listen to those comments beginning 32 minutes into the meeting https://orovalleyaz.new.swagit.com/videos/128706.
After the community comments, Town Council members met in an executive session. Following that meeting, Mayor Winfield asked the Town’s lawyer, Jonathan Rothschild, to read a statement on behalf of the Town Council members. His statement begins at 53:30 minutes into the meeting https://orovalleyaz.new.swagit.com/videos/128706
Rothschild said that Town Council members have been limited to what they could say about the negotiations because of confidentiality agreements and the potential for litigation. He said that the Town, The Conservation Fund and Romspen have been involved in strenuous negotiations for the sale and purchase of the Vistoso Golf Course to preserve it as open space and that all parties are negotiating in good faith. He indicated that Romspen has provided its expected combined sales price for the six acres zoned as high density residential and the 202 acres zoned as recreational. Progress has been made in negotiations for the six acres by a private developer.
As to the 202 acres we hope to see preserved as a nature preserve, Rothschild said Romspen has acknowledged that The Conservation Fund is limited to paying no more than the appraised amount for that property. A completed new appraisal should be available by early August. The Conservation Fund has agreed to pay the appraisal price for the 202 acres and preserve it as a dedicated conservation area.
Rothschild then said that if the appraisal price for the 202 acres is less than Romspen’s “agreed on” price, the Town and the Council Members agreed unanimously to continue further negotiations in an attempt to resolve outstanding disputes with Romspen in an effort to complete the purchase of the property. He said that if an agreement could not be reached, the Town Council will continue to review all legal options and weigh the benefits and risks association with those options. Rothschild repeated that he could not go into detail about the negotiations but that he was informing us about the process and where negotiations stand.
Preserve Vistoso is encouraged that the Town Council publicly reaffirmed its commitment to our community to insure that the Vistoso property is preserved as open space. We will keep our members informed as we learn more about the progress of the negotiations.
August 29, 2021
THE CONSERVATION FUND ISSUES UPDATE REGARDING NEGOTIATIONS TO PURCHASE THE VISTOSO PROPERTY
Mike Ford from The Conservation Fund asked that we share with you this update on the Vistoso property purchase. Thank you for your continued support. We will keep you informed as we learn more.
Proposed Purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course
The Conservation Fund (Fund) is pleased to announce substantive progress is occurring relative to negotiations with the Town of Oro Valley and representatives from Romspen Vistoso, LLC, concerning the purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course. As reported in earlier communication, securing the 202 +/-acre property is contingent upon reaching agreement based upon an updated appraisal establishing current fair market value. The report has been completed and we expect to reach final agreement following the upcoming Town Council meeting scheduled the week of September 6th.
In the interim, we are asking for your continued patience and understanding while the Fund and the Town work through specific details in furtherance of finalizing necessary agreements. The Fund has also developed a draft Conservation Easement to ensure the property will be protected and managed for conservation and open space, in perpetuity, prior to transferring the land to the Town of Oro Valley for long-term ownership and management.
The Fund shares the collective passion to preserve this unique property and we expect to be able to make a formal announcement around September 9th. We will make every effort to coordinate directly with all interested parties, including Preserve Vistoso and the many residents who have long supported this important effort. In the interim, we are respectfully asking everyone to refrain from speculation, rumor, innuendo, or any other information unless you hear directly from the Town or the Fund.
We want to thank everyone for your continued trust and confidence. Your support, financial generosity, and valuable input will be needed now more than ever as we work to create lasting results for everyone. We remain cautiously optimistic resolution of this longstanding effort is finally possible under mutually acceptable conditions.
September 3, 2021
CALL TO ACTION
SEND COMMENTS TO TOWN COUNCIL BY TUESDAY SUPPORTING THE VISTOSO PROPERTY PURCHASE
Sept. 4, 2021 -- As a member of Preserve Vistoso you continually have shown your unwavering commitment to preserving the former Vistoso golf property as a nature preserve and community trail. Preserve Vistoso’s goal of preservation is now within reach as the appraisal on the property has been completed and negotiations are in the final stages.
The Vistoso property is on the agenda for the September 8 Town Council meeting and we need to send “on the record” comments to the Town by 5 pm Tuesday, September 7. There will not be public comment on this issue during the meeting, so it is critical that we make our voices heard by sending emails to the Council.
Last week, Preserve Vistoso forwarded Mike Ford’s announcement that The Conservation Fund (TCF) was pleased to announce substantive progress in negotiations with the Town of Oro Valley and Romspen concerning the purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course. Your comments to Town Council will help us achieve what our community has worked so hard to accomplish.
Email your comments to Town Clerk Michael Standish at email@example.com for distribution to the Town Council prior to the meeting. Your comments do not need to be lengthy. You just need to say that you support the Town’s efforts to date and that you want a successful resolution of the negotiations to purchase the Vistoso property.
Please be sure to ask that your comments be part of the official meeting minutes of the September 8, 2021, Town Council meeting and include your name and Oro Valley address.
As mentioned, emails must be sent by Tuesday at 5:00 PM (24 hours before the Town Council meeting) to be delivered to town council members prior to the meeting.
Here are two examples of emails already sent to the Town Clerk:
SAMPLE LETTER 1:
Dear Mr. Standish,
We write as residents who live on the former Vistoso golf course. We ask that this email be entered into the official minutes of that September 8 Town Council meeting.
After several agonizing years, it appears this nightmare is about over. We urge the Council to do whatever is necessary to bring the negotiations to a swift and successful conclusion. We wholeheartedly support the plans of The Conservation Fund to turn this property into a preserve that can be enjoyed by the citizens of Oro Valley in perpetuity. Finally, we know that the Mayor, Council, City Attorney, Town Manager, and many city employees have been working tirelessly to get this done. We thank them for their efforts.
Thank you for your attention!
Your Oro Valley Address
SAMPLE LETTER 2:
Dear Mr. Standish,
I am a resident of Oro Valley and have been actively involved in the Vistoso property issue. I would like to express my support for the Conservation Fund, along with the Town of Oro Valley, to help our community realize the finalization of making the property a Conservation Easement and to ensure the property will be protected and managed for conservation and open space, in perpetuity.
This project has been a long time in coming and we thank the Town of Oro Valley, the Mayor, Vice Mayor, Town manager, attorney, and council, for helping us add such a wonderful amenity to Oro Valley, for all to enjoy. Please make this email an official part of the Town Council Meeting on September 8, 2021.
Your Oro Valley Address
The Wednesday Town Council will be an in-person meeting at the Council chambers, 11000 N La Cañada Dr. If you attend, you can complete a blue card and if the Mayor asks for comments about the Vistoso Property, he may call on you. There also is a link to a streaming option at the top of the agenda. If you select the streaming option, you will be able to see and hear the meeting, but there will not be an opportunity to speak during the meeting. More information about the agenda and format for Wednesday’s meeting is at:
Our strength is in our numbers! This is our opportunity to make our voices heard and support the Town in closing out this three-year nightmare. Please get your letters to Mr. Standish by Tuesday at 5:00 PM!
September 9, 2021
ORO VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL APPROVES RESOLUTION
TO PROCEED WITH ROMSPEN SETTLEMENT
September 9, 2021-- The Oro Valley Town Council last night approved a resolution to facilitate completion of the negotiations for the purchase of the 202 acres of the former Vistoso golf course by The Conservation Fund (TCF). The Town has been involved in these negotiations since November 2020 and this motion authorizes the Town staff to take the necessary final steps to ensure the transaction is completed.
“We thank Town Council members, Town Attorney and Town Management for supporting our efforts to save the Vistoso property as a community trail and nature preserve,” said Gayle Mateer, President of Preserve Vistoso. “Negotiations are nearing completion and this resolution is the final step to remove any barriers to getting it done. Mayor Winfield proposed the resolution which was unanimously approved (7-0) by Town Council members.”
Here is the resolution:
I move that the Town Council direct staff in accordance with their discussion in Executive Session to proceed with a settlement agreement of all disputes with Romspen that will facilitate the Conservation Fund’s purchase of the 202 acres of the former Vistoso golf course; that the Town Council will allow the Town to be party to the resolution of all claims with Romspen and be party to the negotiations of a conservation easement between The Conservation Fund and Romspen; including any consideration required by the Town; and that staff is directed in furtherance of a settlement agreement to involve a third party regarding the purchase of the 6 acres of the property owned by Romspen, currently zoned multi-family residential.
Preserve Vistoso wishes to thank all our members who sent letters to the Town Council prior to last night’s meeting. By making your voices heard you have shown the Council that there is strong community support for their actions to complete the purchase.
More information will be shared once the deal is complete and the details can be made public.
October 19, 2021
THE VISTOSO PROPERTY ACQUISITION NEEDS TOTAL COMMUNITY SUPPORT TO SUCCEED
October 19, 2021-- After more than three years of intensive effort and support from you and the other members of Preserve Vistoso, The Conservation Fund (TCF) signed the contract to purchase 202 acres of the Vistoso property. We now need to raise $1.8 million by December 15, 2021 for TCF to complete the purchase of the property.
If we are successful in raising funds, TCF will place the property in a conservation easement that will keep it protected in perpetuity, and we expect that TCF will donate the property to the Town of Oro Valley.
TCF, with the full support of the Town, made a bold move to negotiate on our behalf. Our previous 2020 pledge drive showed tremendous community financial support and commitment. However, we need more than last year’s pledges. If we do not raise the $1.8 million, there is a contingency that TCF will not purchase the property and Romspen will still own it. If we don’t reach our goal, this property will likely be developed. The uncertainty and deterioration of the property will continue.
Since our community directly benefits from having a 202-acre nature preserve, we need the entire community to contribute to reach the $1.8 million goal. Your generous contribution will have a lasting effect on current and future generations of families that live in Oro Valley.
You will save 202 acres of the Sonoran Desert as a permanent recreational area with:
Spectacular mountain scenery
More than six miles of paved trails
Three sets of restrooms
Trail underpasses for major roads
Walking access for thousands of residents.
The property is desert habitat and a sanctuary for wildlife with:
13 different mammals
33 species of birds
At least eight types of reptiles
An abundance of desert plants
It will create a safe recreational area for families, children and seniors away from traffic and pollution
Studies find that property values can increase:
With few exceptions, studies find that homes adjacent to naturalistic parks and open spaces are typically valued at about 8% to 20% higher than comparable properties.1/
Residences next to a larger and longer “greenbelt” area, which is great for hiking and biking, saw a 32% increase in home value on average.” 2/
Open space provides amenities such as scenery, recreation, and an absence of traffic congestion and pollution. 3/
This can benefit all homeowners whether you live next to the preserve or in the nearby neighborhoods.
We would like to bring you up-to-date and inform you about the agreement to purchase the property. You will be able to ask questions in a quick ten-minute summary via Zoom or a phone call. We will show you various ways you can be a part of this achievement.
To arrange a ten-minute informal Zoom presentation or phone call, please contact Preserve Vistoso volunteers:
Gerald Bren at 612-209-7347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Bren at 612-834-8891
Contributions are made directly to The Conservation Fund
100% of the funds raised will support this project.
Contributions to TCF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit can be tax deductible but should be discussed with your tax advisor.
This nature preserve is not possible without your generous financial support!
The Volunteer Preserve Vistoso
Fund Raising Team
Roy Hoff Craig MacKay
Nancy Olson Terry Hart
Gerald & Karen Bren
1/ Green Cities: Good Health – University of Washington
2/ Posted by: Robert Caston October 12, 2018 in Parks and Recreation as reported by the University of Washington:
3/ Effect of conservation easements upon the price of adjacent residential properties: A study of Missoula County Montana Jerome M. Grebenc The University of Montana
October 20, 2021
DEAL TO PRESERVE VISTOSO GOLF PROPERTY COMING TOGETHER BUT FINANCAIL DONATIONS NEEDED
Published in The Explorer
Alexandra Pere, Tucson Local Media
October 14, 2021-- After 18 months of collaborative efforts between The Conservation Fund, Preserve Vistoso and the Town of Oro Valley, most of the defunct Vistoso Golf Course will be purchased for $1.8 million from Romspen Vistoso LLC, a Canadian non-bank mortgage lender
Conservation Fund Southwest Director Mike Ford said they have until the end of the year to raise $1.8 million through community donations.
Ford said they would go back to community members who had pledged $1.6 million in October 2020 when initial negotiations fell through.
“The long and short of it was there was a disagreement with respect to value at that time, what they thought it was worth, and what I was willing to pay or was able to pay,” Ford said.
Ford told Romspen he was happy to revisit the deal if they changed their mind. The Town of Oro Valley asked Ford to come back in April to resume negotiations and seal the deal. This time he was successful.
“Once we secure the property, once we purchase it and close on it, the community is assured it will be protected in perpetuity,” Ford said “We would never sell it, we would never develop it under any scenario.”
TCF will place a conservation easement on the property after purchase. A conservation easement is a legal agreement that permanently protects property for conservation. Ford said this guarantees the $1.8 million given by community members isn’t wasted.
This protection is what community members in Oro Valley have been working toward. When the Vistoso Golf Course closed in 2018, community members formed the nonprofit Preserve Vistoso in 2019. Preserve Vistoso and its supporters said they wanted the golf course to be protected from development.
In March 2020, Romspen filed a general plan amendment with Oro Valley to rezone the property to sell to developers. Rosa Dailey, a founding member of Preserve Vistoso, sought Ford’s help. With the help of Ford and TCF, the community can now try to raise the $1.8 million to purchase the golf course.
Preserve Vistoso Board Member Patricia Sturmon is optimistic the funds can be raised.
“When we had the first bid from The Conservation Fund last year, we had a very active fundraising campaign and we raised a lot of money,” Sturmon said. “We are going back to a lot of the same people and asking others to donate.”
Ford is also optimistic.
“But now, we really are urging everybody—we've got to raise the $1.8 million,” Ford added.
Purchasing the property will preserve Vistoso’s Sonoran desert habitat and provide a recreational space to 30 neighborhoods adjacent to the golf course. The property has six miles of paved trails, restrooms, trail underpasses, and petroglyphs. The property is currently open for recreational use.
Find more information about donating to Preserve Vistoso at: preservevistoso.org.
November 1, 2021
LEARN HOW CRITICAL YOUR VISTOSO DONATION IF TO OUR COMMUNITY
November 1, 2021-- After more than three years of intensive effort and support from you and the other members of Preserve Vistoso, The Conservation Fund (TCF) signed the contract to purchase 202 acres of the Vistoso property. We now need to raise $1.8 million by December 15, 2021 for TCF to complete the purchase of the property.
Your investment in our neighborhood is critical if we are to make the Vistoso nature preserve part of our community. We’ve walked the paved trails, enjoyed bicycle rides and viewed wildlife. We want that experience for you and your family to continue, but it won’t happen unless we meet our fundraising goal.
We’d like to share with you information about the property and why your contribution is critical. We’d also like you to invest ten minutes to join a zoom call to learn how this affects you.
Who will care for the property
How will the property be protected from development in perpetuity
Where will money come from to restore and maintain the property
What happens to the bathrooms, cart path, weeds, pond
Get answers to your questions
Please contact Gerald or Karen Bren,
Preserve Vistoso volunteers, to schedule your
short Zoom or in-person presentation
612-209-7347 or 612-834-8891
Donation information also is available at preservevistoso.org
Contributions are made directly to The Conservation Fund
100% of the funds raised will support this project.
Contributions to TCF, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit is tax deductible to the extent provided by law.
Tax benefits should be discussed with your tax advisor.
COFFEE WITH CRAIG – MONDAYS AT 9:00 AM
Maybe you want more information about the importance of saving the Vistoso property as a nature preserve but haven’t had a chance to plan or schedule a zoom call. Or, maybe you just want an update on fundraising. Whatever the reason, you can join Craig MacKay, Vice President of Preserve Vistoso, on Mondays at 9:00 AM for a Zoom call. No reservations needed, just zoom in and join him. Here is the link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83352085376?pwd=R3BPRW0ySnRDeDFBand0U0o0QTZrQT09
CHECK OUR FUNDRAISING PROGRESS
Everyone wants to know how we are doing on fundraising. We have a chart on our website to keep you up-to-date on progress toward our $1.8 million goal. Go to PreserveVistoso.org for the latest. And, while you are on the website, you may click the donate button and add your contribution toward our community goal. Thank you for taking the time to visit our site and considering a donation.
VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR PRESERVE VISTOSO BOARD
If you are interested in an opportunity to apply your experience and have a voice in Preserve Vistoso’s mission, consider joining the Preserve Vistoso Board. Our all-volunteer board of directors serve two-year terms focused on actively engaging in the execution of the vision of our members.
If you are interested in joining the PV board, please fill out an application stating your interest and relevant experience by December 3rd.
At this time, we are looking for volunteers who strongly support Preserve Vistoso’s goals and can commit to at least eight volunteer hours a month. In particular, we’re looking for the following skills or experience:
Prior non-profit board experience
Background in legal, conservation, fundraising
Background in communications, public relations, marketing
Experience working with local governments
Interest in contributing to the community
Please send us an email at PreserveVistoso@gmail.com if you would like to discuss Board responsibilities or have any questions. We will interview candidates in December and announce the new Board members after our annual meeting in January.