A LETTER FROM MAYOR HIREMATH

Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Below is a letter from Oro Valley Mayor Satish Hiremeth. We are honored that he has chosen the TRUTH Blog and are happy to pass along his comments. I was discussing the current issues facing a residents, and he opined that what we do between now and the end of November 2015 will either be one of the best things to happen to Oro Valley, or one of the worst. I couldn’t agree more.

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To readers of the Truth,

As you know by now, there is an attempt by individuals to recall not only myself but Council members Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters.  I want you to know that it is their right to follow the democratic process allowed for recalls if in fact, they believe that we are not leading our Town in a positive direction.  I also want you to know that I support the process but would like to give you some background information so that you are better educated if someone asks you for your opinion on the recall.

In 2010 when we four took office, there was a $3,000,000 deficit between the tentative budget and the final budget.  The deficit was overcome by creating expense savings of $1,500,000 and creating a revenue source of $1,500,000.  This path was chosen because we have residents in our town of equal proportions.  In difficult economic times, there are those who will scrimp and save to make ends meet and are comfortable with that path and then there are those who will work longer hours, get a second job, etc., so that their quality of life will not be sacrificed.  Most elected officials make the mistake of choosing one group over the other thereby automatically alienating one-half of their resident population.  I am very fortunate that we four, along with then Councilmember Steve Solomon, chose to respect both sides and chose a path of equal parity.

The only original member from the 2010 council was Councilmember Bill Garner and his voting record is as follows:

Tentative budget         Final budget

2010                Yes                              No

2011                No                               No

2012                Yes                              Absent

2013                No                                No

2014                No                                No

As a result of Councilmember Garners voting record, never having voted yes on a final budget, I cannot in good conscience give him any credit for the success that Oro Valley has achieved since 2010.

In my opinion, there are two types of individuals; constructionists and destructionists.  Constructionists first look for the opportunities that a situation may bring to see if there is any value.  Once the value is determined the risks are evaluated and then a rational decision is made.  Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters and I are of this camp.

Destructionists only look for the risks first in every situation.  This is problematic because all things have a certain amount of risk associated with them and if this is the first focus, often the opportunities are missed.  This doesn’t apply only to new situations being presented but applies to existing situations as well.  It is easy to criticize but it is much more difficult to have a vision.  The four of us have a solid, well focused vision for the town of Oro Valley.

The successes in Oro Valley since we took office have been numerous.  We have been able to balance the budget, preserve public safety, invest in our roads, expand services in both transit and the library (while saving approximately $800,000), partnered with city of Tucson to bring an additional 2000 acre feet of water into Oro Valley, to name but a few.

In one of the worst recessions in our history, we currently have a surplus after beginning 2010 with a deficit shortfall of $3 million.  In actuality, this surplus is in addition to the investments we four made in the Aquatic center ($2.2 million), Naranja Park ($2.3 million) and burying the underground wires along our Oracle road scenic corridor ($2.1 million).  One could make a legitimate argument that, in essence, we would have had additional monies of $8.3 million added to our contingency reserve fund balance had we not made those investments improving services and bettering the quality of life for our residents.

In closing, everything you see in our town since we  were elected in 2010 was done by design.  NOTHING that you see today happened by accident or by luck.  If you think that there is a discernible difference in our town compared to other municipalities and you like your public safety, roads that you drive on, the quality of your schools, the arts and culture, the recreational opportunities and the quality of your life in general…then you must realize that this is directly attributed to me being your Mayor and Joe Hornat, Mary Snider and Lou Waters being your council members.  Now you know the Truth.

Respectfully,

Satish I. Hiremath

Mayor

Sun City Board votes to facilitate signing of recall petitions.

Recently Sun City changed it’s name from Sun City Vistoso to Sun City Oro Valley. They wanted to capitalize on the fact that they are a part of Oro Valley. Your Town Council applauded that change. It signaled a great partnership.

Now the Boards seeks to assist with the recall of the very people who made Oro Valley the place they want to be associated with…

The Sun City Board voted in a special session to allow their facilities to be used for collecting signatures for recall petitions of our Mayor and three Council members.

We understand Sun City’s Board’s self interest in protecting their golf course. Although, El Con has been there a long time and this isn’t new.

We understand and respect their support of the democratic process of a referendum to send the purchase question of a Community Center to the voters.

We do not understand why they would allow their facilities to be used to sign recall petitions when they don’t allow them for candidate positions.

Wait, maybe we do understand, could they just be vindictive?

While we can’t damn all of the Sun City residents it does appear the Board has forgotten who their friends are. Maybe we should support a recall of the Sun City Board?? Do they truly represent Sun City residents? We wonder. According to one of their blogs 86 % of the respondents felt they should not make their facilities available for signing recall petitions. Now who is not listening??

Let’s not forget their about face when their self-interests are at stake.

I bet they supported the Pima County bond for dogs…but things for people and kids…or seniors that don’t live in Sun City…probably not and further they don’t like the people who do care about ALL of Oro Valley.

They have three community centers and I guess they just plain don’t want you to have just one.

 

Radio Interview with Satish Hiremath KNST 790 AM 2-26-15

If you listened…we’d like to hear what you think?

If you didn’t get a chance to listen the link below will take you to the podcast.

http://www.knst.com/media/podcast-interviews-interviews/satish-hiremath-february-26-2015-25844036/

Any questions unanswered?

 

A READERS VIEWPOINT

Shortly after the hearing (February 3, 2015) in Judge Aragon’s court, one of our followers, who does a superb job of following the facts in these issues, sent a comment to a previous post. We thought it warranted it’s own space as a post to this blog rather than a comment to another post. Due to the schedule of the folks running the blog it is somewhat out of sequence but the content is still quite valid and well presented.

Thanks for the submission!!!!!

As an update to this submission, the Court ruled in favor of the Town, i.e. ruled the petitions invalid.  The Court’s decision is now on appeal by the plaintiffs  to the Appeals Court here in Tucson. (2-10-15)

Below is a link to the Explorer Coverage of the “denial” of the stay requested by appellants.  Also included is a mention of OV’s request for a $21 million bond from the appellants!!

Good article on current status

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El Conquistador Country Club Purchase

Today, I had located the raw video from yesterday’s Superior Court case against the Town of Oro Valley initiated by Shirley Lamonna and Debra Arrett. I also saw on a Sun City Oro Valley website that Ms. Arrett is “confident” that her position will “prevail”. Well, after watching the one hour, forty minute hearing, I would offer “what hearing was she really referring to?”

Here are just a few points made during yesterday’s hearing:
• The “renowned” attorney for the Plaintiff, Bill Risner, arrived late.
• After arriving late, he then had to assemble his exhibits and notes
• He seemed disorganized and even confused throughout the hearing
• He had issued subpoenas that he apparently didn’t intend to use
• The Defense counsel arrived in ample time (from Phoenix) to be organized, well prepared, and respected the time and significance of Judge Aragon and his court room.

Mr. Risner questions Ms. Bower and determined the following:
• She is a Town Employee who followed the law.

The Town of Oro Valley attorney, in cross examination of Ms. Bower, determined the following:
• That she is a Town employee and obviously a State Certified Town Clerk
• That she is not a Town Resident and has no personal interest in the outcome
• That Ms. Bower provided, on numerous times and in numerous ways, the information necessary to complete the referendum petitions accurately. And provided websites, exemplars, and written notification that recommended attorney involvement to ensure the strict compliance to state laws. To which Ms. Lamonna signed off on in acknowledgement

Mr. Risner questions Ms. Lamonna and determined the following:
• Ms. Lamonna tried to comply to the requirements
• Ms. Lamonna had the best of intentions
• Sought legal counsel from TWO attorneys for advice (one was Council Member Burns)
• Ms. Lamonna acknowledged she erred in the referendum process

The Town’s attorney questions Ms. Lamonna and determined the following:
• Ms. Lamonna was provided with all documents, handbooks, information, examples, and the recommendation to consult an attorney by the Town
• Ms. Lamonna states Ms. Bower did NOTHING WRONG
• When asked “then why are we here” (regarding this hearing) – Ms. Lamonna wants the “Constitution” to be followed.
• Ms. Lamonna acknowledge being very disappointed by her failure

In (my) conclusion:
• Town of OV made a decision to purchase a piece of property
• A number of residents, notably many Sun City residents, do not support the purchase
• S. Lamonna and D. Arrett initiate a referendum but fail to comply with state law/reqirements
• Lamonna and Arrett blame Town Clerk for their failure stating is was just a “technicality” and that the will of the people should be heard
• Ms. Lamonna testifies she erred in the referendum signature gathering process
• S. Lamonna testifies that Ms. Bower did “nothing wrong”
• S. Lamonna testifies that two attorneys, one of which is an elected and paid council person, (Brenden Burns) provided legal advice in the “TOOTH” referendum process

Personally, I support this purchase. I also support the democratic process that allows the “people” to utilize their Constitutional rights to object. In order to utilize “Constitutional” rights, State Law provides very specific and very important protocol that is required to do so. I support those laws that are in place that maintain the integrity and consistency of these processes so that fairness and consistency protects everyone and avoids the possibility of fraud or manipulation.

On another note, I am outraged that an elected official, Council Member B. Burns, provided legal advice to the Plaintiffs in this case. It certainly appears that he has a conflict of interest and is not acting in conformance with his Oath of Office. That is my opinion, but it will probably take the Attorney General to investigate and ultimately make that determination.

Finally, I find it incredible that Ms. Lamonna is concerned about the lack of due diligence on the part of the Town reference the purchase of the El Conquistador and feels the matter should be taken to the voters, yet she can’t follow straight forward instructions. Her lack of attention to detail is now costing the Oro Valley tax payers money to defend a law suit where she admits the Town Clerk did nothing wrong and her only remedy is her expensive quest to find a “technicality” to cover for her sloppiness. Sounds to me that she is trying to “save face”.

Ms. Arrett and Ms. Lamonna, FAILED in their effort to bring forth a successful referendum and in that, the whole constitutional provision went down in flames with them. This seems to have started out as a reasonable quest, but their ineptitude and arrogance have left them looking like we need to win regardless of the cost. I am fortunate that I did not donate to their “boondoggle” which, sadly, is now making the Town of Oro Valley look like a circus.
And as a side note, I do not know how much money the supporters of this effort paid Mr. Risner, but I would be embarrassed to say that I had contributed to his representation.

OV Answers FAQ’s Media Release

Oro Valley answers frequently-asked questions about the El Conquistador Country Club acquisition.

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 22, 2015) -Although last week’s petitions for referendum were invalidated because they did not comply with state law (ARS) 19-111 (B), they were a clear indication that some residents in Oro Valley still have questions about the acquisition of the El Conquistador Country Club and its planned conversion into a community and recreation center.Town leadership is working to raise awareness of the information that has already been made available to the public, as well as provide opportunities to answer questions and meet with members of the community in a series of open house events that will soon be announced.Below is the first round of frequently-asked questions (FAQs). Additional FAQs will be shared in the coming days, based on constituent inquiries and public discussions.

Why is the Town purchasing the El Conquistador Country Club?

Oro Valley residents have been requesting a community center for many years. In the latter part of 2014, the Hilton El Conquistador Resort and Country Club was sold, and the new owner did not want to own and operate the Country Club; therefore, discussions took place about the Town purchasing the property for the purpose of turning it into a community and recreation center. The property includes 324 acres of land, a 31,475-square-foot building, restaurant, 31 tennis courts, 45 holes of golf and two swimming pools.

What is the purchase price of the property, and what is the value?

An appraisal was completed and the property is valued at $3.25 million. The purchase price is $1 million, to be paid in cash over three years. The appraisal also estimates a replacement value of $42 million, which includes the cost to rebuild the golf courses, tennis courts, buildings, etc.

Has an analysis of the property been completed?

Yes. The Town’s building official has inspected all of the structures. The report was then provided to architects and construction experts in order to prepare cost estimates of needed upgrades. Additionally, Troon management inspected all the golf course facilities. It is estimated that $5.5 million is needed to improve the property over the next five years; therefore, the acquisition cost ($1 million), plus the needed capital investment ($5.5 million), result in a total “all-in” capital cost of $6.5 million. These improvements, along with strong management, will drive revenues up.

 Why doesn’t the Town build a new community center?

The cost of building a new facility will cost much more than acquiring the existing facility. Based on an analysis of the Northwest YMCA’s unit construction costs, a new facility, comparable to the country club, could cost approximately $20 million. The Town does not have $20 million in reserves, and therefore, would have to bond (or finance) the cost of the project. Interest on a $20 million facility would cost an additional $7 million dollars over the 20-year life of the bonds. The total cost of the facility would therefore be approximately $27 million. Additionally, a new facility would likely incur an annual operational “loss.” Community center operational costs often exceed revenues by $500,000 to $1.5 million annually.

If the Hilton couldn’t make money on the Country Club, how can the Town make money?

Hilton’s primary focus was always the resort property (hotel). When capital resources were available, the funding was usually dedicated to the resort instead of the country club. The Troon golf management company has been contracted to manage the golf, restaurant and much of the facility. In 65% of the public facilities that Troon manages, the properties break even or are profitable.

 The golf industry seems to be struggling. Why acquire a golf course?

The Town is not able to acquire the community and recreation center facility without also taking ownership of the golf courses. The number of golfers nationwide has followed the downturn in the economy. Many industry experts believe golf courses were “over built” during the real estate expansion in the last 20 years. Many golf courses went out of business due to the large amount of debt they carried. The Town is purchasing the property with cash and will carry zero debt. Similar to any operation, it will take good management and capital investment in order to be successful. There are numerous golf courses across the country that are profitable.

 Haven’t the El Conquistador golf courses operated at a financial loss?

Yes. In recent years, the expenditures have exceeded the revenues by approximately $1.2 to $1.5 million per year. Under private ownership by the Hilton, the country club and golf course expenses included the annual payment of property taxes. Because the Town does not pay property tax, this is an immediate savings that will be realized when the Town takes ownership; therefore, the Town’s annual loss in the beginning years is expected to be approximately $1.2 to$1.3 million. This anticipated shortfall is the reason for the $2 million additional revenue generated by the increase in sales tax. It is not uncommon for a community center to have expenditures exceed revenues by $1 million annually. The revenue shortfall occurs because municipalities strive to keep rates affordable, which therefore creates a situation where the broader revenue sources help fund the operations costs (this occurs in numerous government functions).

The financial projections on the golf operations seem overly optimistic. How does the Town think these numbers will be achieved?

Town staff worked very closely with Troon to analyze and scrutinize all golf operation projections provided by Troon on golf round projections, revenues and expenses. A number of measures will be implemented to achieve increased interest in golf and the other activities and programs that will be offered at the Community and Recreation Center. First, the golf operations will now be professionally managed by Troon, an internationally-recognized, premier leader in the industry. Troon manages more than 230 golf courses around the world and can leverage their purchasing power to significantly lower operations and equipment costs at the facility. Secondly, Troon will implement unique and creative programs to spur increased interest in golf for all ages, including youth and school programs. Finally, the Town and Troon will partner to significantly increase the marketing and advertising efforts to promote the courses and restaurant facilities to a greater degree than under past management.

What is the estimated cost per household, per month of the 0.5% sales tax increase?

Because sales taxes are paid by both Town residents and non-residents, it is estimated that approximately 2/3 of local tax revenues are generated by Town residents. If we apply this 2/3 to the total annual estimated collections of $2 million from the 0.5% sales tax increase, it results in approximately $1.3 million of this total paid by Town residents. If we divide $1.3 million by the approximately 18,500 households in Town and divide by 12, the result is $5.85 per household per month.

How will the additional revenue (from the sales tax) be utilized?

Two million dollars in new revenue will be generated from the half-cent sales tax, which will become effective March 1, 2015. In the first two years of operations, the average revenue shortfall is approximately $1.2 to $1.3 million. The remainder of the $2 million will be used for capital investment. The investments in the property, golf and restaurant facilities will help to increase operational revenue. By year three, the operation shortfall dramatically decreases to approximately $200,000, and in year four, is decreased entirely.

Will other planned Town projects be delayed because of this purchase?

No. The Town has authorized dedicated funding for this facility. The increase in the sales tax from 2% to 2.5% will allow the Town to fund the operations and the capital improvements for the facility. All other Town operations and capital projects are moving forward as planned.

Will the Town pay for the use of water?

Yes. The Town’s Water Utility operates as an “enterprise,” which means that it is fully supported by user fees. The Town pays for its water use as any other customer would. The Town is currently a water customer. The Town currently pays for irrigation in Town parks.

 How will the Town pay for the water costs?

Like any public or private operation, there are revenues and expenses. The cost of water is one of the expected expenditures to operate the facility. The El Conquistador receives revenues from customers of the facility for golf, tennis, fitness, restaurant, etc. The revenues from these sources will be used to pay for the water expenses.

For more details on this project, click here or visit: http://www.orovalleyaz.gov/town/news/community-invited-give-input-proposed-country-club-acquisition.

 

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Referendum Petitions Don’t Comply With State Law

 

 

Petitions for referendum do not comply with state law; number of signatures on second petition effort falls short of requirement

Oro Valley, Arizona (January 20, 2015) – After processing the petition sheets submitted to the Oro Valley Town Clerk on Thursday, January 15, 2015, by the T.O.O.T.H. in OV referendum committee, it has been determined that the petitions do not comply with state law, therefore, any signatures on them are invalidated.

The petition sought to refer to a ballot the December 17, 2014 Town Council decision to acquire the El Conquistador Country Club and its related amenities.

According to Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 19-111 (B), it is mandatory that the petition serial number appear in the lower right hand corner of both the front and back of the petition. The submitted petitions did not bear the assigned serial number. This provision was included as a requirement in the materials provided to the referendum committee.

 

Since serial number requirement is a matter of state law, the Town of Oro Valley does not have the authority to override that requirement. Numerous case laws make it clear that strict compliance with all statutes is required for a referendum. See Western Devcor, Inc. v. City of Scottsdale, 161 Ariz. 426, 814 P.2d 767 (1991); and numerous other cases.

 

Upon receipt of the January 15 petitions, the Town Clerk recognized and indicated that the documents did not contain the serial number. The following day, January 16, the same group of citizens filed an application for another referendum petition with similar language under the name of T.O.O.T.H. in OV 2, and gathered signatures to submit by the 5 p.m. deadline.

 

The T.O.O.T.H. in OV 2 petitions were submitted by deadline and processed by the Town Clerk’s Office; however, the second set of petitions fell short of the minimum 1,148 signatures required.

 

As of 5 p.m. on Friday, January 16, 2015, the deadline to submit petitions has passed.

 

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TIME FOR ACTION

Here is a link to an article in the latest edition of the Golf Digest.

Please read it and I will have more to add shortly. We have a really good fight on our hands. We can move forward or we can stand on the sidelines and observe.

I choose leadership over watchmanship.

Thanks for your continued support.

Golf And Busines: Course Correction : Golf Digest

 

Submitted by TRUTH Friend

The following was submitted by a friend of the TRUTH blog. Don has submitted this to the Explorer for publication.

TURNING POINT

I was very disappointed to discover that a small group of citizens is planning a legal move to block the Oro Valley acquisition of the El Conquistador Country Club (ECCC) property which jeopardizes a much wanted community center. Sadly there is also a group of Sun City residents who  have joined in. This group is only concerned with their own interests and not the greater good of Oro Valley.

The core group behind this move is the same group of citizens that has opposed most every development project in our Town to include the building of Ventana Medical, Sanofi, Oro Valley Marketplace and Oracle Crossing. The latter two were responsible for the generation of $1,000,000 and $450,000 respectively in sales tax revenue during Fiscal Year 2013/14 alone. Both have been there for several years so do the math yourself.  Sanofi and Ventana employees, who live in Oro Valley, have been responsible for the generation of hundreds of thousands of  dollars in state shared revenue income for Oro Valley. If this small group had their way, we would not have realized this income and the current financial condition of Oro Valley would be vastly different.

Oro Valley has matured to one of the best places to live in the United States. Our crime rate is one of the lowest. Our property values did not decline nearly as much as other areas in Arizona. Our population continues to grow at a healthy rate and we have attracted new business. All of these facts, make a very clear statement that the decisions made by the governing body of Oro Valley have created an atmosphere that allows for the above to occur. We have achieved this success not by accident but as a result of sound fiscal decisions being made by the Oro Valley Town Council.

In my 9+ year experience on the Oro Valley Planning and Zoning Commission, I can tell you that the group that is planning to derail the purchase of ECCC has opposed most every development project at one point or another.  They are vocal. They are organized. They are a detriment to progress and to the future of Oro Valley.

It’s your choice.  A one half cent sales tax for a community center, 30% of which is paid for by non-Oro Valley residents, is a small price to pay. At some point a community center, if constructed, is going to cost us tax dollars. If we build it on our own the price tag will be much higher.

I urge my fellow citizens of Oro Valley to actively oppose this small group of naysayers. We cannot allow 1200 signatures to dictate what happens in our community.  Say NO! Tell others to say NO! Spread the word to oppose this group through your local social network.

THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!

But most of all have a Merry Christmas and a healthy 2015!!!!

Don Cox

The Verdict is in!

As was predictable, Councilman Burns was successful in pleaing down the felony charges to misdemeanors. One has to wonder if this was a result of good juris-prudence or the fact that he was part of the ‘lawyer brotherhood’. My guess is that it was a little of the former and more of the latter. You also have to wonder if the fact that he is a good Democrat had anything to do with the degree to which the charges were pursued since our less than wonderful County Attorney is a party loyalist???

In any event we wish Councilman Burns good health and a Merry Christmas.

The following was copied from Tucson.com.

“Oro Valley Town Councilman Brendan Burns was sentenced to probation Wednesday after pleading guilty to criminal trespassing.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Javier Chon-Lopez sentenced Burns to two years probation in connection with a May 20 incident where the councilman was unlawfully in the home of his estranged wife.

“Most people don’t get this opportunity,” Chon-Lopez told Burns at the hearing.

Burns’ offense was designated a misdemeanor, at the request of his defense.

At a plea hearing in November, public defender Joel Feinman asked that acceptance of the plea be postponed until the sentencing date and that the judge designate the offense a misdemeanor.

The reason was to help preserve Burns’ professional career as an attorney. If he had pleaded guilty to and subsequently been sentenced for a felony, he faced losing his state license to practice law.

Burns was arrested following the May incident where he showed up at his wife’s house in defiance of a protective order.

Court and police documents say Burns brandished a knife during the incident.

The original indictment included criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.

Chon-Lopez said the incident and court records show Burns suffers with mental health issues, including bipolar disorder.

The judge suggested that Burns read a book on bipolar disorder titled “An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness.”

In addition to probation, Burns is required to pay his wife $4,430 in restitution, to not have unauthorized contact with her and to take all medications prescribed to him.

He’ll also have to submit to any mental health treatments the Adult Probation Department orders.

Burns graduated from the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law and was admitted to practice in 2004.

He was elected to the Oro Valley Town Council in 2012.”

THE PURCHASE

Blog master comments follow the information below copied from the Oro Valley web site.

COMMUNITY INVITED TO GIVE INPUT ON PROPOSED

COUNTRY CLUB ACQUISITION

Photo of tennis courts with Pusch Ridge in background

On Wednesday, December 17, Oro Valley Town Council will discuss a proposal to acquire the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club. The proposal would be to purchase the facilities while assuming no debt and paying the $1 million purchase price over three years. The facilities would then be converted to a municipal community and recreation center with tennis, golf and pool amenities.

Community members are encouraged to attend this meeting to provide their input on this potential project. Citizens may also share their feedback prior to the meeting by contacting the Town’s Constituent Services staff at 520-229-4711 or by submitting comments online through the Citizens Portal by clicking here.

Project background
It is anticipated that the Hilton El Conquistador Golf and Tennis Resort, which also includes the El Conquistador Country Club, will change ownership in mid-December, 2014, as current owners MetLife, Inc. are in final discussions with HSL Properties. As part of that transition in ownership, HSL Properties is interested in selling the Country Club and its related amenities (including tennis and golf) to the Town of Oro Valley for $1 million.

Why is the Town interested in this opportunity?
The need for a community center has been part of our residents’ dialogue for several years, and it became even clearer through the Your Voice, Our Future public participation phase of the General Plan update which launched in the fall of 2013.

According to a statistically-valid community survey conducted in September 2013 as part of the General Plan update, the top concern among participants who were asked what they enjoyed LEAST about living in Oro Valley was “distance” and “lack of services,” including “no central place to meet people.”

Subsequent community outreach efforts in the following months supported this concern, with many residents and event participants expressing a desire for a community center or central gathering place as well as increased recreational offerings for all ages.

In a more recent statistically-valid survey, conducted by the Oro Valley Parks & Recreation Department in June 2014, participants were asked about the “importance of constructing multi-use community centers with facilities for indoor recreation/fitness programs,” with 51% responding that this was “very important” and 34% responding that it was “somewhat important.”

FMR Associates, Inc. conducted both surveys, which are available in their entirety upon request.

What’s included in the purchase?
The amenities of this purchase, on 324 acres of land, include:

  • A 31,475 square-foot community and recreation center at 10555 N. La Cañada Drive (currently the Hilton El Conquistador Country Club).
    • Rooms for meetings and social gatherings
    • Racquetball/multiuse rooms
    • Dance and fitness rooms
    • Cardio and strength equipment
    • Children’s activity room
  • A 5,600 square-foot club house/pro shop at the Hilton Resort property
  • Golf courses—45 holes
    • Conquistador Course at country club property (18 holes)
    • Cañada Course at country club property (18 holes)
    • Pusch Ridge Course at resort property (9 holes)
  • A full-service restaurant and bar
  • A café
  • 31 lighted tennis courts (15 at the country club property and 16 at the resort property)
  • 2 swimming pools

How will it be paid for?
The $1 million purchase price will be paid for out of the Town’s General Fund Contingency over the next three years, resulting in no debt. However, the ongoing maintenance and operations of the facilities, including initial capital improvements (such as life-safety and ADA compliance), will require an additional revenue stream. To meet that need, the Town is proposing a half-cent sales tax, which is expected to generate approximately $2 million annually. That sales tax would be designated solely for the proposed Community & Recreation Center and related amenities.

Why such a short timeframe?
The Town of Oro Valley began exploring this opportunity during the early part of the summer months (2014) after the idea came out of a meeting between Town officials and a broker for a potential Hilton Resort purchaser. That deal to purchase the resort from current owner MetLife, Inc., ultimately fell through, so the Town’s opportunity to consider the Country Club was never brought forward for public discussion. Months later, when HSL Properties expressed interest in purchasing the Hilton Resort from MetLife, the Town was re-engaged in similar discussions about the potential of purchasing the Country Club property and related amenities; however, the opportunity couldn’t be brought forth to the public until negotiations between MetLife and HSL Properties had been completed. The aggressive timeline set forth by these two parties has also placed the Town on an accelerated timeline. That is why public input is so critical.

Where can I get more information on this proposal?
More detail on the Town’s financial forecast can be found in the presentation that was given to Town Council on December 3. That presentation is available on the Town’s website as a downloadable PDF. Click here or visit www.orovalleyaz.gov and click on Featured News to be taken to the information page on this project. That page also contains links to the two public presentations given by Troon, the vendor currently being considered to manage the golf, restaurant and 16 tennis courts at the Resort property.

Residents have many questions, including cost of membership and priority for current Country Club members and residents. These details are still being worked out and will not be finalized until early 2015, pending project approval.

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Blog Master comments:

I believe that the prospect to purchase this PRIME piece of real estate for this amount is one of those events that comes along once in a lifetime. By the same token, “All that glitters, is not gold”. So I am pleased that the Town Council has NOT rushed into this as ‘Cheech and Chong’ would have you believe from their Guest Opinion in the last edition of the Explorer. The Town financial staff, who have a reputation of being very fiscally conservative, has studied the numbers and believe this is a long term positive revenue generator. It’s hard to argue against them. They have been spot on during the recent fiscal downturn and recovery from the same.

My only angst, and it is not enough to nix the deal is the management contract that we will have with Troon. While they have a great reputation for success, I would feel better with a Guaranteed Net or Profit and Loss type contract in the near future. A strictly management fee arrangement provides for no downside protection for the Town.

The four Councilpersons who appear to favor this move all have a business background or some business  experience. The remaining three have none that is measurable.

I’ll go with the majority on this one.