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Preserve Vistoso Pulse Published in 2021 January - June

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

  • January 4, 2021

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 ask@orovalleyaz.gov.

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. 

February 1, 2021

Dear Friends of Preserve Vistoso,

Re:  Need Your Attendance at OV Town Council Meeting -  Wednesday, February 3, 2021 - 6:00 PM

We thank you for your support of Preserve Vistoso’s efforts to save the Vistoso property as a nature preserve and community trail.  Your attendance on town council zoom meetings will help indicate our community’s continuing interest in seeing the property preserved.
 
We hope we can count on you to attend the Oro Valley Town Council Zoom meeting on February 3rd at 6:00 PM.  We believe that Oro Valley Town Management is at a critical stage in the negotiations with Romspen. We do not know details of the negotiations, but it’s important that we keep the pressure on the Town and Romspen to reach a deal as we get closer to the April 1 deadline set by Mayor Winfield.  

We obviously cannot pack the Town Council chamber with Preserve Vistoso members because of COVID, but we can show up on the Zoom Video call.  A large turnout would reinforce our community commitment to the Town’s purchase of the Vistoso property.   At these meetings, the Town Manager’s report at the beginning of the meeting usually includes an update on the Vistoso negotiations. Following the manager’s report, several members of the Preserve Vistoso Board will address the Council during “Call to Audience” to urge them to complete the deal with Romspen.

Link to the agenda for February 3rd meeting is here. A link to join the meeting is at the top of the town’s agenda page and also below:

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2021 ONLINE ZOOM MEETING at 6:00 PM


Join Zoom Meeting:
https://orovalley.zoom.us/j/96070780591

There also is a phone number to call if you are not near a computer (1-346-0248-7799 then enter the meeting ID 960 7078-0591). If you have any further questions prior to the meeting please reply to this e-mail with your questions.

 

Thank you in advance for attending this important meeting.

THANK YOU PRESERVE VISTOSO MEMBERS

February 5, 2021 – Thank you Preserve Vistoso members for attending the Town Council Zoom meeting on February 3.  Mayor Winfield announced that the number of residents on the Zoom call totaled around 300.

We cannot pack Town Hall because of COVID, but it is important that we join the Town Council Zoom calls. The Council meetings begin with Town Manager Mary Jacobs’ report on progress of the negotiations with Romspen. We believe that we are in a critical stage for the negotiations of the sale of the property to the Town.  
 
Mark your calendars to attend the next two meetings at 6:00 PM on February 17 and March 3. You will find the agendas and the Zoom links for the Town Council meetings at:

https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/Departments/Town-Clerk/Meetings-and-Agendas

Our attendance makes a difference.

  • March 1, 2021 Edition

 

ATTEND AND SPEAK UP AT THE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 3 TOWN COUNCIL 6:00 PM ZOOM MEETING

March 1, 2021 –The April 1 deadline Mayor Winfield set to have Town Management negotiate the sale of the Vistoso Property is less than a month away.  The Town Manager reported at previous Town Council meetings that “progress” is being made, but there have been NO details on this “progress” after several months of negotiations.  We are anxious to hear the Town Manager’s latest report at the Town Council Zoom meeting, March 3 at 6 p.m., and hope for a more detailed report.  Are we on track for an April 1 deadline for the Town Council to approve the purchase of the property?  If not, why not?   Has a property appraisal even been ordered?  If not, why not?  We have the opportunity to ask these questions during the Call to Audience. 

The link to the Wednesday Zoom meeting is here

The Town Manager’s report and the Call to Audience are at the beginning of the Town Council meeting.  When the Mayor announces the Call to Audience, you can click the red hand icon on the bottom of your Zoom screen to be in the queue to speak.  To participate in the meeting please see the notes at the end of this Pulse about how to install and use the Zoom app.

Once Mayor Winfield calls on you, unmute and state your name and confirm that you live in Oro Valley.   You may speak for up to three minutes about why this deal is important to your family, or you can simply say – GET THE APPRAISAL DONE AND FINALIZE THE VISTOSO PROPERTY DEAL BY APRIL1.

As citizens, we should have visibility into the progress the Town is making toward the purchase of the Vistoso properly.   We need to emphasize that Preserve Vistoso’s involvement will continue until the sale is final and we have our nature preserve and community trail.  We should also question whether our valued partner in earlier negotiations, The Conservation Fund (TCF), is involved in the current negotiations with the property owner, Romspen Investments.    TCF reported that Romspen rejected an appraised fair market value offer for the property.  As best we know, Town Management has not secured another appraisal of the property, which is a required step for negotiating the purchase price of the property.

We had a great turnout of more than 300 members at the February 17 Town Council meeting, so thank you for your support. Our continued attendance demonstrates the urgent need to negotiate a deal for the Vistoso property as we get closer to the April 1 deadline imposed by Mayor Winfield.  Preserve Vistoso’s involvement will continue until we have our nature preserve and community trail.  

Parks and Rec Study Session Reveals Nothing Planned North of Tangerine

The Town Council meeting on March 3 also includes a study session on the Parks and Rec Master Plan.  The report appears to focus on improvements to existing facilities, such as parks, tennis courts and the community center, located in the center of town.  Even though Preserve Vistoso members attended numerous meeting to express our concern about the lack of Town facilities north of Tangerine, this report does not mention our community’s needs or even reference the possibility of the Vistoso property becoming a nature preserve.  It also ignores the results of a statistically valid community survey that said the community’s top priorities are paved and natural trails and open space.  We need the Town to plan recreational expenditures in our Rancho Vistoso Community.  While the sale of the Vistoso Property has not been finalized, there should be some reference in the report that there are budgetary plans for the Nature Preserve once it becomes part of the Town’s recreational areas.  

If you have time to attend the study session, please do so.  The report is included here.  

How to join the Town Council Meeting 

To participate in the Town Council meeting you will need to download the Zoom app on your computer or phone.  You can get the Zoom app through Google.   Instructions on using the Zoom app and raising your hand to speak are here.
 

  • March 14, 2021 Edition

ATTEND THE WEDNESDAY, MARCH 17 TOWN COUNCIL 6:00 PM ZOOM MEETING

The Zoom link for the March 17 Town Council meeting is: https://orovalley.zoom.us/j/96070780591

The Agenda for March 17 can be found at: https://destinyhosted.com/agenda_publish.cfm?id=67682&mt=ALL&get_month=3&get_year=2021&dsp=ag&seq=581

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March 15, 2021 -- We urge all Preserve Vistoso members to attend the Wednesday, March 17 Town Council Zoom meeting starting at 6:00 PM. This is the last scheduled Town Council meeting prior to Mayor Winfield’s April 1 deadline for negotiations with the owner of the Vistoso property, Romspen, a $3 billion Canadian investment firm. We are eager to hear what progress is being made in the negotiations that would preserve the Vistoso property as a nature preserve and community trail. 

The Mayor usually announces the number of residents on the Zoom call for the meeting. A large turnout on the call as the April 1 deadline approaches will demonstrate that Preserve Vistoso members strongly urge the Town to complete the negotiations to purchase the property. 

The first part of the meeting includes the Town Manager’s report and a "Call to Audience". We anticipate that the Town Manager will have an update on the Town’s progress in the negotiations. Once you hear her update, please consider speaking during the "Call to Audience" and let Town Council members know how important it is to complete the negotiations with Romspen.  

 

PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT - ATTEND THIS MEETING!!!!

  • April 5, 2021 Edition

ATTEND AND SPEAK AT THE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7 6:00 PM ORO VALLEY TOWN COUNCIL ZOOM MEETING

The Zoom link for the April 7 Town Council meeting is: https://orovalley.zoom.us/j/96070780591

The Agenda for April 7 meeting can be found at: https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/Departments/Town-Clerk/Meetings-and-Agendas

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April 5, 2021 --
 

The Oro Valley Town Council unanimously voted last November to have Town Management negotiate the purchase of the Vistoso Golf property by April 1. The Town Manager should address the status of the negotiations at the Town Council meeting on Wednesday, April 7. Members of the public are invited to speak during the "Call to Audience" part of the meeting. Let’s tell Town Council members why we want the Vistoso Golf Property to become a nature preserve and community trail.

The Zoom link for the April 7 Town Council meeting is: https://orovalley.zoom.us/j/96070780591

The Town Council also scheduled an Executive Session for Monday, April 5 on the Vistoso Golf property purchase negotiations. These meetings are not open to the public, but the agenda calls for approving “direction to the Town Attorneys''. This agenda also states that members of the public will have an opportunity to speak on this issue at the April 7 Town Council regular meeting during the "Call to Audience."

Let’s speak directly to Town Council members to emphasize that our Rancho Vistoso community wants the property purchase completed. We have lived with this uncertainty long enough. The property is zoned recreational and needs to remain as open space. The only acceptable use of the Vistoso Golf property is to remain zoned as recreational. If an agreement on purchase cannot be reached with the property owner, Romspen, we will be asking the Town to pursue condemnation of the former golf property for the public good. 

Agendas for the Town Council Executive Session and the Town Council meeting can be found at: https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/Departments/Town-Clerk/Meetings-and-Agendas

PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT - ATTEND THIS MEETING!!!!

  • April 10, 2021 Edition

THE CONSERVATION FUND RESUMES NEGOTIATIONS TO PURCHASE THE VISTOSO PROPERTY

April 10, 2021 – The Conservation Fund announced that it is involved in negotiations to help preserve the Vistoso Golf Property as a nature preserve.   This is exciting news and we hope it brings us closer to resolving the uncertainty of the property.  We urge everyone to support the efforts of the Conservation Fund.   Attached is the announcement from Mike Ford, Southwest Director of TCF.            

 

 

April 9, 2021

 

*UPDATE*

 

Proposed Purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course

 

The Conservation Fund (Fund) is pleased to announce it has been invited to resume formal discussions and negotiations with the Town of Oro Valley and representatives from Romspen Vistoso, LLC, concerning the purchase of the former Vistoso Golf Course.  Yesterday, we met to discuss the proposed framework of a new agreement concerning the prospective purchase of the 202 +/- acres, currently zoned recreational/open space. A separate agreement between a private buyer and Romspen Vistoso, LLC will be executed concurrently for the remaining 6 +/- acres. 

 

Securing the 202 +/-acre property will be contingent upon reaching agreement based upon an updated appraisal establishing current fair market value under mutually acceptable terms and conditions. We expect the report to be prepared quickly and we will announce the actual purchase price once final agreement has been reached.

 

Under related discussion, it was also agreed the Fund will manage and lead all fundraising associated with any prospective purchase. The Fund will coordinate directly with all interested parties, including Preserve Vistoso and the many residents who have long supported this important effort. The Fund will also develop a concurrent 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 will keep everyone advised as details continue to develop. We plan to make a more detailed announcement in the next 30 days, following completion of the updated appraisal. In the meantime, 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. 


For any questions or concerns please contact Mike Ford, Nevada and Southwest Director at mford@conservationfund.org.

TheConservationFund.png
  • April 26, 2021 Edition

UPDATE ON NEGOTIATIONS TO PURCHASE VISTOSO GOLF PROPERTY

April 26, 2021-- Mike Ford, Southwest Director of Conservation Acquisition for The Conservation Fund (TCF), provided Preserve Vistoso board members an update on progress to purchase the Vistoso golf property from Romspen Investments. Ford said that the Town of Oro Valley Attorney Jonathon Rothschild and Town Manager Mary Jacobs invited TCF to reengage in discussions for a purchase agreement with Romspen.  Any deal is contingent on an appraisal of the property to establish Fair Market Value (FMV).  Romspen attorney Pat Lopez agreed to contract for an updated appraisal.

Ford said the deal being considered is for TCF to purchase the 202 acres zoned recreational at FMV and place a conservation easement on the property to protect it in perpetuity as open space. Terms of the deal including the purchase price and conservation easement language will be released publicly once the deal closes. The purpose of a conservation easement would be to define exactly what would be allowed and what would 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, the six acres where the former club house and parking lot exist, currently zoned high density residential, would be sold to a private developer. Any development of the property would be subject to all existing zoning constraints including building height limits of 35 feet. Ford said that the developer would be known to our community and the plans would be compatible with the 202 open space acres.  

If the FMV offer is accepted by Romspen, TCF would hope to close the deal by year end.  While TCF intends to eventually donate the property to the Town, TCF would also select a third party conservation land trust as a steward of the property to protect the natural habitat.

 “This is great news for our community,” said Gayle Mateer, President of Preserve Vistoso. “TCF has remained willing to re-engage in the process even after the initial offer to Romspen was rejected last September.  Mike Ford’s leadership and the Town of Oro Valley’s support have made an agreement on the property a possibility.  We are cautiously optimistic that Romspen will accept the deal and we can end our three-year nightmare of uncertainty about the property.”

Preserve Vistoso Membership Committee Outreach to Community

The Preserve Vistoso membership committee’s outreach programs increased our membership to more than 1,800.   Welcome to our new members and thank you for joining.  Thanks to all our volunteers who helped sign up new members outside the Oro Valley Public Library and distributed flyers to neighbors who are not members of Preserve Vistoso.  We urge all members to speak with neighbors and friends about joining Preserve Vistoso.  If you’d like to volunteer to help our membership committee, please send us your information at preservevistoso@gmail.com

 

  • June 14, 2021 Edition

NEGOTIATIONS TO PURCHASE VISTOSO GOLF PROPERTY AT A CRITICAL STAGE

June 14, 2021-- During the June 3rd Town Council meeting, Oro Valley Town Manager Mary Jacobs said that Romspen hired a local company for a new appraisal of the 202 acres of the Vistoso property that is currently zoned recreational. This property would be purchased as a nature preserve by The Conservation Fund (TCF) if Romspen agrees to the Fair Market Value (FMV) of the property. Romspen agreed to initiate and pay for this new appraisal.

Negotiations are at a critical point!  

It has been three years since the Vistoso golf course closed. If Romspen continues to slow the progress of the purchase or once again rejects TCF’s offer of the appraised FMV of the 202 acres, we need the Town Council to immediately consider condemnation proceedings. We hope Town Council members agree with us that condemnation is the appropriate step to secure the property for the community if Romspen once again rejects a FMV offer for the property. 

We urge Preserve Vistoso members to attend Town Council meetings via ZOOM and speak during the Call to Audience. The next Town Council meeting is June 16 at 6 pm (MST). It’s important for the Council members to hear new and different voices to emphasize that the 1,800 members of Preserve Vistoso support the FMV purchase of this property as a nature preserve. 

The Call to Audience is at the beginning of the meeting and follows an update on negotiations by Town Manager Mary Jacobs. You have three minutes to speak, but short, simple comments work.  Tell Town Council members why saving the Vistoso property is important to you, your family and our community. We also encourage you to thank the Town Council members, Town Manager and Town Attorney for their efforts and support. Here is the link to join the Town Council meeting: https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Government/Departments/Town-Clerk/Meetings-and-Agendas

There also are Town Council meetings July 7 and July 21 and you can access all meetings through the Town’s website. The agenda and ZOOM link are usually available a week prior to the meeting.
    
TCF plans to purchase the 202 acres zoned recreational at FMV and place a conservation easement on the property to protect it in perpetuity as open space.  In a separate agreement, the six acres where the former club house and parking lot exist, currently zoned high density residential, would be sold to a private developer. For more information on the background of the negotiations, you can visit preservevistoso.org

Town Council issues Strategic Leadership Plan for 2021-23

Mayor Joe Winfield mailed community leaders information on the Town’s Strategic Leadership Plan for 2021 through 2023. He said in his letter to Preserve Vistoso President Gayle Mateer that our organization is a “regional leader and partner with the Town.” He said he looked forward to working with us on issues and projects of mutual interest that benefit our community. Town Manager Mary Jacobs discusses the strategic plan in the Town’s podcast:
https://www.orovalleyaz.gov/Community/This-is-Oro-Valley/Episodes/This-is-Oro-Valley-Strategic-Leadership-Plan

You also can view the plan document at: 

https://destinyhosted.com/orovashareddocs/file/Attachment%201%20Draft%20Strategic%20Plan.pdf