Preserve Vistoso Pulse Published in 2020 July - December
July 2, 2020 Edition:
INTRODUCING THE CONSERVATION FUND
To Preserve Vistoso Members:
As you may know, The Conservation Fund (TCF), a U.S. based environmental, non-profit organization founded in 1985, submitted a letter of intent to Romspen Investments to purchase the 208-acre former Vistoso Golf Course. TCF is negotiating directly with Romspen regarding the purchase of the property using ready capital from an internal “Revolving Fund” that provides initial funding for the purchase. Preserve Vistoso will partner with TCF to replenish its acquisition funds.
We’ve included a letter from TCF that you can access here that explains its mission and role in helping us preserve the former golf course. At the end of the attachment you will find a donor form from TCF. If you would like to learn more about The Conservation Fund’s plan to acquire this property prior to making a pledge, please contact Gerald and Karen Bren (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you have questions for Preserve Vistoso after reviewing this information, please email us at preservevisosto@gmail.
We’d also like you to know that the Vistoso Community Association (VCA) will email its first electronic newsletter on July 3rd. The newsletter contains important community information for Rancho Vistoso residents, including an article from Preserve Vistoso announcing that our Vistoso Nature Preserve and Community Trail could become a reality. We hope you will read our article and the other information in the VCA’s first electronic newsletter. If you haven’t already signed up for the VCA emails, you can do so by clicking here.
President, Preserve Vistoso
● July 5, 2020 Edition:
CALL TO ACTION:
REGISTER TO VOTE FOR TOWN COUNCIL MEMBERS BY MIDNIGHT JULY 6
July 5, 2020 -- If you want to vote for a candidate for Oro Valley Town Council and are an Arizona resident, you need to register to vote by Monday, July 6, midnight. Voters registered as Independent WILL NOT receive the August 4 ballot because it is a primary election. If you want to vote for our Town Council members, you will need to go to ServiceArizona.com and choose a Republican or Democrat preference. You can change it back to independent after the August election.
It's convenient to register or change your voter registration online at ServiceArizona.com. Pima County voters also can check their voter registration here. You also can contact the Recorder's Office with questions at 520-724-4330. Early voter ballots will be mailed on Wednesday, July 8.
The Candidates for the three Town Council positions in this election are Tim Bohen, Bill Garner, Harry “Mo” Greene, Bill Rodman and Steve Solomon. This primary often decides our Town Council members because any candidate who receives 50 percent or more of the vote in the primary is elected to Town Council. If candidates do not receive 50 percent of the vote, they will be on the ballot again in November.
Preserve Vistoso is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so we cannot recommend candidates who would best support our efforts to work with The Conservation Fund (TCF) to purchase the former Vistoso Golf Course. All seven current Town Council members voted on June 3rd to have the Town Management work with TCF and Romspen on the potential preservation of the open space and to work with TCF to help identify possible funding, including grant funding, to acquire the property for a green space to be gifted to the town. You can review comments by Town Council members at the June 3rd meeting here.
We need future Town Council members who will support our efforts after the election. New or reelected Council members will assume office in November and could be key decision makers on the future of the former Vistoso Golf Course.
For more information on the five candidates, you can read the Explorer article here. You also can go here to Oro Valley Podcast to listen to each of the five candidates
• July 10, 2020 Edition:
REMINDER TO VOTE FOR TOWN COUNCIL MEMBERS
If you are a resident of Oro Valley and vote by mail, you may have received an election ballot for the August 4 primary. There also is the option to vote in person on August 4. It is critical that Preserve Vistoso members who are residents of Oro Valley vote in this election. If you are registered as an independent and do not receive a mail-in ballot, call 520-724-6830 and ask for a Dem or Rep ballot. If you go to the polling place ask for a Dem or Rep ballot. Then you’re able to vote for OV council candidates.
The Candidates for the three Town Council positions in this election are Tim Bohen, Bill Garner, Harry “Mo” Greene, Bill Rodman and Steve Solomon. This primary often decides our Town Council members because any candidate who receives 50 percent or more of the vote in the primary is elected to Town Council. As a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Preserve Vistoso is prohibited from endorsing or opposing candidates.
For more information on the five candidates, you can visit the candidates’ websites -- Tim Bohen, Bill Garner, Mo Greene, Bill Rodman, and Steve Solomon.
July 17, 2020 Edition:
ORO VALLEY ANNOUNCES POSTPONEMENT OF ROMSPEN REZONING APPLICATION
July 17, 2020 -- We are sending Preserve Vistoso members today’s Oro Valley news release announcing postponement of Romspen’s application for General Plan Amendment and Rezoning. In June, The Conservation Fund (TCF) submitted a Letter of Intent to Romspen for the purchase of the Romspen property as a Nature Preserve and Community Trail. TCF, a highly regarded national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, helps make conservation projects a reality. If negotiations with Romspen are successful, TCF will provide the funds necessary to acquire the property and work with the Town and organizations such as Preserve Vistoso to return funds to TCF to reinvest into other conservation projects.
Town of Oro Valley updates outreach plan for Vistoso Golf General Plan Amendment and Rezoning
Oro Valley, Arizona (July 17, 2020) – The Town of Oro Valley has updated the public outreach plan for the proposed Vistoso Golf General Plan Amendment and Rezoning. Based on a request from the applicant, Romspen Vistoso, LLC (Romspen), the Town has agreed to postpone all neighborhood meetings for the application until the spring of 2021. This decision was made to provide additional time for successful completion of the open space purchase negotiations between Romspen and The Conservation Fund.
“We want to ensure that the two parties have all the resources for successful negotiations, and right now, a critical resource is time,” said Bayer Vella, the Town’s Planning Manager.
Discussion among the relevant parties is ongoing; however, a 30-day stay on the application was made by Romspen in June 2020, which has now elapsed. The applicant will request, and staff will recommend, a continuance of the application at upcoming Planning & Zoning Commission and Town Council meetings to finalize negotiations and complete the neighborhood meeting process.
“There has been significant public participation on this application, and the public outreach will continue,” added Vella. “The number and type of neighborhood meetings will not be reduced for this application.”
State law requires Town Council action on a Tier 1 Major General Plan Amendment within the same calendar year submitted. In this case, it must occur by December’s end. A “continuance” is considered an “action”. If the Town Council approves the continuance, application processing will recommence— unless withdrawn—after the December Town Council hearing without postponement until the next Tier 1 General Plan Amendment submittal and review cycle.
A Type I (Major) General Plan Amendment was formally submitted for the Vistoso Golf property in April 2020. Two informational videos were created and posted on OVprojects.com and one online Zoom neighborhood meeting was conducted regarding the project.
In June, staff was directed by Town Council to “…work with The Conservation Fund and Romspen on the potential preservation of the open space that was formerly the Vistoso golf course, and to work with The Conservation Fund to help identify possible funding, including grant funding, to acquire the property for a green space to be gifted to the Town.”
Romspen then requested a 30-day stay on application processing to determine intent and feasibility of a purchase by The Conservation Fund.
For more information visit OVprojects.com or contact AskOV at email@example.com.
• July 23, 2020 Edition:
VOTE IN ARIZONA PRIMARY ELECTION ON TUESDAY, AUGUST 4
Primary election day in Arizona is Tuesday, August 4. If you are a resident of Arizona and want to you vote in person, you can find your polling location on the Pima County website by clicking here. If you type in your local address, you will find information about your polling place.
If you received a mail-in ballot for the Arizona primary election, your ballot-by-mail must be received by county election officials by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day (August 4). If you are going to mail your ballot-by-mail, election officials recommend putting your ballot in the mail by July 29, 2020. Otherwise, you can take your ballot to any ballot drop-off location or voting location in Pima County by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day.
Sign Up for ZOOM Update on Plans to Purchase the Vistoso Property as a Nature Preserve
Preserve Vistoso has been offering Zoom meetings to update everyone interested in our progress in turning the former Vistoso golf property into a nature preserve. Our partnership with The Conservation Fund has been a major step forward. Zoom meetings will give you background and information about our progress and remaining issues to be resolved. We’re keeping the meetings small to enable each attendee to get all questions answered. To attend one of these informative meetings:
Contact Gerald Bren, PV Board of Directors, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 612-834-8891.
We also offer socially distanced in-person presentations for those who would request that meeting option.
• August 1, 2020 Edition:
PRESERVE VISTOSO AND THE CONSERVATION FUND PARTNERSHIP UPDATE
In July 2020, the Town of Oro Valley announced the postponement of neighborhood meetings for Romspen’s proposed General Plan Amendment and Rezoning applications regarding the Vistoso property until the spring of 2021 (https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/News/Town-updates-outreach-plan-for-Vistoso-Golf-GPA). This will provide additional time for the proposed open space purchase negotiations to continue between Romspen and The Conservation Fund (TCF).
Our partnership with TCF is a major step forward. We are pleased to report that TCF is now in escrow to purchase the property subject to an executed formal contract that it has with the property owner, Romspen. As part of TCF’s due diligence during the coming months, steps will be taken so that TCF may evaluate the property’s finer details including, but not limited to, the results of a future appraisal report that will establish the fair market value of the property. Ultimately, if TCF is successful with its negotiations with Romspen, TCF intends to use its internal “Revolving Fund” to provide the ready capital for the land acquisition. TCF also is working with the Town of Oro Valley to establish mutually acceptable terms for the property to become part of the Town’s public open space area. TCF will place a conservation easement on the property to ensure that it is preserved as public open space and protected in perpetuity.
While Preserve Vistoso is not a party to the negotiations with Romspen, we support TCF and are focusing on raising funds to replenish TCF’s Revolving Fund that will be deployed to acquire the Vistoso property. While fund-raising efforts began prior to TCF’s involvement, Preserve Vistoso is confident that our community will continue to give and support this important effort to secure the benefits of open space for years to come. The Preserve Vistoso Board of Directors thanks its members for their support and salutes two founding Preserve Vistoso members, Rosa Dailey and Tom Stegman, for initiating contact with TCF.
Preserve Vistoso is offering virtual ZOOM meetings to provide key updates about our progress to protect the Vistoso property so that it will be used as a public nature preserve and community trail. These informative meetings will provide you key details about our fundraising efforts and any outstanding matters that concern the property. We’re ensuring these meetings are held with small groups so that each attendee has adequate time and opportunity to gain insight about the project. To schedule a virtual meeting or obtain further information, please contact Gerald Bren, PV Board of Directors, at email@example.com or call (612) 834-8891. We also offer socially distanced in-person presentations and conference calls with our team.
The permanent protection of this property means it will remain public open space forever. For general inquiries or information on ways to give towards the preservation of the Vistoso Property, please contact Kirste Kowalsky, Arizona Field Representative for The Conservation Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional details are also at https://www.conservationfund.org or TCF PARTNERSHIP.
August 12, 2020 Edition:
NOW IS OUR OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT TCF
In June, we reported the news that The Conservation Fund (TCF) would negotiate with Romspen to purchase the Vistoso property. To have one of the most successful and highly regarded American conservation organizations interested in preserving the property as a nature preserve and community trail is a great opportunity for our community. Our support from TCF is extremely important.
As a reminder, TCF is in escrow to purchase the Vistoso property subject to an executed formal contract with the seller, Romspen. The Town of Oro Valley has also publicly approved Romspen’s request to postpone the neighborhood meeting process that is associated with the property’s proposed General Plan Amendment and Rezoning applications in order to provide a reasonable timeframe for the conclusion of open space purchase negotiations with The Conservation Fund.
We are confident that our community will continue to give and support TCF’s effort to purchase the property and create a conservation easement to preserve the property as public open space in perpetuity. We need to provide funds that will replenish TCF’s Revolving Fund which will be deployed to acquire the property. Preserve Vistoso asks its members and the entire community to make financial pledges which are strictly directed to the acquisition.
For general inquiries or information on ways to give towards the preservation of the Vistoso Property, please contact Kirste Kowalsky, Arizona Field Representative for The Conservation Fund at email@example.com. More information on TCF and how to donate is available on the Preserve Vistoso TCF Partnership page.
Preserve Vistoso also is offering virtual ZOOM meetings to provide key updates about TCF’s progress to protect the Vistoso property so that it will be used as a nature preserve and community trail. These informative meetings will provide you key details about our fundraising efforts and update you on our progress. We’re ensuring these meetings are held with small groups so that each attendee has adequate time and opportunity to gain insight about the project. To schedule a virtual meeting or obtain further information, please contact Gerald Bren, PV Board of Directors, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (612) 834-8891.
Thank you for your support.
September 25, 2020 Edition:
ORO VALLEY ANNOUNCES POSSIBLE RESTART OF HEARINGS IN ROMSPEN APPLICATION
September 25, 2020 -It is our understanding that the Town of Oro Valley will be posting yellow signs this afternoon announcing that Romspen will request a continuance on its General Plan Amendment (GPA) application in the October 13th Planning and Zoning (P&Z) meeting. Although negotiations between The Conservation Fund (TCF) and Romspen continue, the Town is required to post notifications of pending P&Z actions at least 15 days before the action is scheduled for consideration.
TCF is in escrow to purchase the Vistoso property subject to an executed formal contract with the seller, Romspen. TCF reports that the appraisal of the property was completed earlier this month. Last week Romspen asked for an extension to its contract with TCF until the end of September and TCF granted the extension. Negotiations for TCF to acquire the property are still ongoing.
So why the yellow signs? Romspen has not withdrawn its application for a General Plan Amendment and has indicated it plans to ask for a continuance if Romspen decides not accept TCF's offer. The first step of the continuance process is making the request in the next P&Z meeting which is scheduled for October 13th. Since the Town is required by state law to notify impacted residents at least 15 days before the meeting, the Town is making the announcement before negotiations between Romspen and TCF have been completed.
We continue to be cautiously optimistic that negotiations will be successful and that the GPA will be withdrawn before the October 13th meeting. We will keep you up to date as we hear more.
Thank you for your patience and support.
• September 30, 2020 Edition:
ROMSPEN REJECTS TCF'S FAIR MARKET VALUE OFFER
This afternoon we learned that Romspen has rejected The Conservation Fund's offer to buy the Vistoso property for fair market value. Please see below for a message from The Conservation Fund with more information about this latest development.
Romspen's rejection of TCF's offer is very disappointing to all our members and the wider Oro Valley community. Preserve Vistoso will send out additional information in the upcoming days about next steps and important ways for the community to participate.
UPDATE FROM THE CONSERVATION FUND
September 30, 2020 - As you may know, The Conservation Fund (“Fund”) began a partner-driven effort with the local non-profit Preserve Vistoso, local residents, the Town of Oro Valley and other key individuals regarding the community’s desire to protect the former +/- 208 acre Vistoso Golf Course (the “property”) so that it would be added to the Town’s public open space system for all to enjoy in perpetuity. This past July, the Fund entered into a purchase contract with the property owner, Romspen Vistoso, LLC, and subsequently made an offer based upon the fair market value of the property established under a mutually acceptable process. The report was prepared by an experienced independent 3rd party appraiser (CBRE), using joint appraisal instructions consistent with the Uniform Standards for Federal Land Acquisitions, commonly known as the ‘Yellow Book’.
Regrettably, the seller has elected not to accept the Fund’s offer at this time and has terminated the contract. Despite our best efforts to reach an agreement we will continue to keep an open line of communication with Romspen, the community, and the Town of Oro Valley in support of this worthy endeavor should something change.
The Fund shares your passion to preserve this important and unique property and we have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity you have allowed these past months. We also appreciate the trust and confidence you have shown us as we have endeavored to work together towards common goals. We want to sincerely thank every one of you for your financial generosity, valuable input, and support during this time. As we continue to coordinate with you, we will contact those who made financial pledges and/or direct donations in support of the acquisition of the property. Direct financial gifts received by the Fund will be returned in full, or in part, subject to individual donor preference.
Finally, we encourage you to visit our website www.conservationfund.org to learn more about our work. If you wish to support the Fund, and the work we have accomplished as a nationally respected conservation organization that has preserved and protected over 8 million acres since 1985, we can continue to put your charitable gifts to work. All contributions are fully tax deductible under our not-for-profit 501(c)(3) status. We welcome your contributions and continued support as we strive to help provide long-term benefits for America’s lands, waters, and communities. No matter what inspires you to give today, or in the near future, you can trust that we will put your donation into action and create lasting results for nature and for people that balances economic development with important conservation objectives.
For general inquires or information on ways to give, please contact Kirste Kowalsky, Arizona Field Representative for The Conservation Fund at email@example.com.
For all other questions or concerns please contact Mike Ford, Nevada and Southwest Director for The Conservation Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org. ]
• October 1, 2020 Edition:
A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESERVE VISTOSO BOARD
On Wednesday, Romspen rejected The Conservation Fund’s (TCF) offer of the appraised fair market value for the 208-acre Vistoso property. As background, Romspen filed its rezoning proposal with the Town of Oro Valley in late March. During April and May, Oro Valley residents sent thousands of comments to the Town opposing Romspen’s application. During two of the four scheduled Zoom public meetings in May, you demonstrated total community opposition to the rezoning application. The Town Council voted June 3 to direct the Town Staff to pause the rezoning application and allow TCF to negotiate with Romspen to purchase the property.
We need to demonstrate once again that our community opposes Romspen’s General Plan Amendment application. Your comments to email@example.com will become part of the public record as Planning and Zoning Commission on October 13 considers Romspen’s request to continue the rezoning public hearings. The Town Council is expected to vote on Romspen’s request for continuance in December, but we need to express our opinions now.
ATTEND THE OCTOBER 7 ZOOM TOWN COUNCIL MEETING
Your first opportunity to tell the Town Council members why you oppose Romspen’s rezoning application will be October 7 at the Town Council’s Zoom meeting. The Vistoso property General Plan Amendment is not on the agenda, so we will be able to express our opinions at the start of the Council meeting. Here is information on how to participate:
CALL TO AUDIENCE – At this time, any member of the public is allowed to address the Mayor and Town Council on any issue not listed on today’s agenda. Pursuant to the Arizona Open Meeting Law, individual Council Members may ask Town Staff to review the matter, ask that the matter be placed on a future agenda, or respond to criticism made by speakers. However, the Mayor and Council may not discuss or take legal action on matters raised during “Call to Audience.” In order to speak during “Call to Audience” please specify what you wish to discuss when completing the blue speaker card.
You will need to request a blue card and indicate that you want to talk about the Vistoso property rezoning application. Here is how you request a blue card:
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or
Call the Town Clerk's office at 520-229-4700
If you would like to view the entire Town Council agenda for October 7, you can click here.
PLANNING AND ZONING MEETING OCTOBER 13
We do not have the agenda for the Planning and Zoning meeting on October 13, but we expect that Romspen will request a continuance of its General Plan Amendment. We hope you will send your comments to email@example.com. You can find Romspen’s application information at http://OVprojects.com under General Plan Amendments. Once we have more information on the meeting, we will let you know.
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:
• October 6, 2020 Edition:
ROMSPEN WITHDRAWS ITS GENERAL PLAN AMENDMENT BUT ANTICIPATES RE-APPLICATION IN 2021
Preserve Vistoso was just notified by the Town of Oro Valley that Romspen requested its General Plan Amendment and zoning changes be removed from review and public hearings for 2020. Romspen said it anticipates re-application next year (2021).
Preserve Vistoso Board and members are extremely disappointed that Romspen failed to accept a cash, fair market value offer from The Conservation Fund (TCF) for the purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course. Romspen failed to understand the commitment this community has to save the property as a Nature Preserve and Community Trail. We made our voices heard with the Town of Oro Valley in 2020 and we will do the same in 2021.
Preserve Vistoso intends to continue our outreach and grow our membership. We will be even stronger when Romspen applies again for a General Plan Amendment in 2021.
The Preserve Vistoso Board will continue to inform you about our efforts to make sure our community has a voice in what happens to the former golf course. We welcome ideas and comments on how we can work together to stop Romspen from building hundreds of homes and condos on land reserved for recreation. We aren’t about to stop our efforts.
Thanks for your support. We will continue to keep you informed.
Oro Valley Podcast Interviews Mike Ford, TCF
If you would like to hear more about TCF and its attempt to purchase the Vistoso Property, please check out Jim Horn’s Oro Valley Podcast interview with Mike Ford, TCF Southwest Director, which you can access here.
October 14, 2020 Edition:
THE CONSERVATION FUND CLARIFIES STATEMENTS BY ROMSPEN ATTORNEY
October 14, 2020 -- In a recent interview with the Explorer newspaper Romspen’s attorney, Pat Lopez, made some statements about the negotiations with The Conservation Fund. The Conservation Fund’s negotiator, Mike Ford, sent a letter to the Explorer’s editor Austin Counts. You can access the article in the Explorer here.
With Mike Ford’s permission, we are sharing his response with you.
Austin, I just read your story of October 14th -- “Vistoso golf course deal a no-go.” As such, I would like to address a significant issue of substantive concern and disagreement. Specifically, claims by Mr. Lopez that there were “erroneous calculations made on the appraisal” and no changes were made. Frankly, that is not factually or intellectually correct and it paints a distorted picture of the proceedings.
The appraisal was delivered to Mr. Lopez on August 28th and comments were not received back until Friday, September 25th. The comments were minor in nature and provided no factual information disputing the actual comparable sales that had been collected and analyzed in the report. The only information Mr. Lopez advanced had to do with the “speculative” value of the property assuming it was rezoned in the future.
In response, the appraisers independently reviewed the comments from Mr. Lopez and I provided their full written response on Tuesday, September 29th. The written response to Mr. Lopez concerning the appraisal included the following:
The current zoning for the 202.05 acres is for recreation/golf course use.
The appraisal followed all appropriate standards and guidelines agreed upon by both parties prior to beginning the engagement.
The report was required to abide by the Uniform Appraisal Standards for Federal Land Acquisition (UASFLA) and the Uniform Standards for Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP).
UASFLA (4.2.3) states that “just compensation” cannot be based on speculation or conjecture.
It would be contrary to UASFLA guidelines if the appraisers ventured further (without support) in speculating the property would have a 30%, or 50%, probability in obtaining a change in zoning use.
Note: With respect to the above, the speculative nature was affirmed the next day when Romspen suspended its 2020 application to amend the Vistoso General Plan Land Use Designation to rezone.
Mr. Lopez also stated the seller was “willing to come down a lit bit on the number” but they never offered any written or verbal counter offer even though the difference between full fair market value (FMV) and their asking price was in excess of 7 figures – hardly a “little bit”.
I understand the report did not meet the Seller’s expectations but to characterize the report as containing “several erroneous calculations” is disingenuous, misleading, and factually incorrect. It does a disservice to the appraisers and the good faith negotiation and timely responsiveness I advanced on behalf of The Conservation Fund.
The Conservation Fund
October 28, 2020 Edition:
VOLUNTEER FOR THE PRESERVE VISTOSO BOARD
(Applications are Closed)
October 28, 2020 -- In support of our mission, we are looking for new members for our Board of Directors who strongly support Preserve Vistoso’s goals. Please send us an email at PreserveVistoso@gmail.com if you’d like to discuss Board responsibilities or have any questions. A questionnaire is available here for you to express your interest in bringing your skills and passion to our board and we hope you’ll join us. We’ll interview candidates in December and announce the new Board members after our annual meeting on January 22, 2021.
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:
Nonprofit or HOA board experience
Experience working with local governments
Conservation and/or environmental experience
Website development or CRM administration
Marketing or social media
Communications or public relations
October 28, 2020 Edition:
ATTEND NOVEMBER 12 MEETING TO VOICE CONCERNS ABOUT PARKS AND REC PLANS FOR FUTURE
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 will be 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 before the meeting, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or email Town Council members.
November 11, 2020 Edition:
CALL TO ACTION:
ATTEND NOVEMBER 12 MEETING TO VOICE CONCERNS REGARDING THE TOWN'S PARKS AND REC PLANS LACK OF INVESTMENT IN RANCHO VISTOSO
November 11, 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 15, 2020 Edition:
CALL TO ACTION:
ATTEND NOVEMBER 18 TOWN COUNCIL MEETING AND PARKS AND REC ADVISORY BOARD MEETING NOVEMBER 17
November 15, 2020 – The agenda for Oro Valley Town Council meeting at 6:00 pm on November 18 includes discussion of possible action regarding the closed Vistoso Golf property. An additional agenda item is Town Council discussion and possible direction to the staff regarding the Parks and Rec Consultant’s study and discussion.
We do not know details about what the Town Council will discuss, but it is important that discussion of the Vistoso property and the Parks and Rec study is on the agenda. We urge Preserve Vistoso members to attend this November 18 Town Council meeting. Here is the link to the agenda for the Town Council meeting. The agenda includes a link to the Zoom meeting.
If you want to speak at this zoom Town Council meeting, you will be able to raise your hand following the Town Council discussion of the Vistoso property. Or you may submit a “Blue Card” by email prior to the meeting which you can access here.
Following Town Council discussion of the Vistoso property, the agenda includes discussion and possible direction to staff regarding the Parks and Recreation master plan update. Many of you attended the Parks and Rec meeting on the Consultant’s master plan on November 12 and commented that the Consultant’s report did not address the priority recreational needs of our Rancho Vistoso community. You also will have an opportunity to speak following this discussion.
Having Preserve Vistoso members attend Town meetings sends a message that we are involved and concerned. There were more than 90 participants in the Parks and Rec meeting on November 12. Thank you for participating.
Parks and Recreation Advisory Board on Tuesday, November 17
There also is a meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board at 6:00 pm November 17 which you can access here. You can join this meeting to voice concerns about the Consultant’s vision and concept plans. The funding of these plans comes from our tax dollars. 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. The report also 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. You can read previous Pulse publications on the Preserve Vistoso website at preservevistoso.org for more information on our concerns about the Consultant’s report.
November 20, 2020 Edition:
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.
November 23, 2020 Edition:
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 501(c)(3). 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. 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.
December 14, 2020 Edition:
THANK YOU TO ALL OUR MEMBERS
December 14, 2020 -- We can’t say thank you enough. You are the best!!!!! We know that your support now and in the future will mean success for our community efforts to Preserve Vistoso as a nature preserve and community trail.
You voiced your opinions by:
Sending a record number of emails to ASKOV
Participating in Zoom calls during the hearings on Romspen’s rezoning proposal
Totally opposing development plans proposed by Romspen
Participating in the Parks and Recreation 10-year study and expressing your opinion that we need recreational facilities north of Tangerine
Voicing your opinion in Town Council Meetings and sending emails to Town Council members
And, committing an incredible $1.5 million in pledges toward the purchase of the property
On Nov. 18, Mayor Winfield proposed that the Town authorize negotiation of the sale of the Vistoso Property from Romspen Investments. The proposal was unanimously approved by Town Council. We know that you will continue to voice support for the Town’s efforts. That will make the difference.
December 16, 2020 Edition:
TOWN COUNCIL SPECIAL VISTOSO PROPERTY
MEETING CALLED FOR TONIGHT
December 16, 2020 -- The Town of Oro Valley late Tuesday posted a notice for a special session of the Town Council to discuss the Vistoso property. The meeting begins at 5:00 PM today with a roll call, followed by a closed executive session. Following this closed session, which may take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, the Council is expected to move into open session.
ORO VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL
December 16, 2020
ONLINE ZOOM MEETING
Click link to join: https://orovalley.zoom.us/j/92304020505
To attend via phone only, dial 1-346-248-7799 then enter Meeting/Webinar ID: 923 0402 0505
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.
Once the Town Council reconvenes, the agenda is:
Discussion and possible action to instruct the Town’s attorney(s) and representatives regarding the property commonly known as the former Vistoso Golf Course.
You are invited to join this meeting in support of the town's efforts to negotiate purchase of the Vistoso golf property. There should be opportunities for participation by the audience. We will be able to voice our support of the efforts of the Town Council.
You can view the Town Council Special Session Announcement and Agenda by clicking here or pasting this link into your browser: https://destinyhosted.com/agenda_publish.cfm?id=67682&mt=ALL&get_month=12&get_year=2020&dsp=ag&seq=558