B y J i m W r i g h t
THE CITY OF Tucson's proposed annexation of Don Diamond's billion-dollar Rocking K development southeast of town has hit a giant speed bump on the road to reality. According to City Hall sources who wish to remain anonymous, Rocking K officials aren't returning calls from city bureaucrats. The problem, according to one high-placed source, has been brewing for several months.
Rocking K President Chris Monson says he "always answers (phone) calls." When asked whether talks between the city and Rocking K have broken down, Monson simply says he can't answer that question without knowing who the source is.
After repeated questioning, and Monson's continued refusal to answer The Weekly's questions about ruptured negotiations, he admits he'd been disturbed and upset with the city ever since City Councilman Steve Leal held a June 22 hearing on the economic impact of the Rocking K on the city.
"The general tone of that hearing (which also included council members Molly McKasson and Bruce Wheeler) convinced me this was not the time to be conducting discussions with the city," Monson says.
Now, according to Monson, with the city in the midst of mayor and council elections, and with Councilman's Tom Saggau's seat up for grabs, it's better to "wait for calmer times to hold our talks."
The questions raised by Leal's hearing went unanswered until September 21, when city annexation czar John Jones finally delivered a memo to Leal and the other council members. Many of Jones' answers angered Leal.
"As far as I'm concerned, these are non-answers," says the Ward 5 councilman.
Leal points to the first question, which asked how much money it would take to bring the Rocking K water company up to the city code.
Jones' response: "Tucson Water has no information on the facilities of the Ranchlands Water Company...."
When told of the rumored breakdown in talks, Leal says, "Maybe that's why these answers are so empty. They're (city staff) not talking to anyone at the Rocking K who can give them answers."
Bingo. And Leal's conjecture is at the crux of another problem which has placed city bureaucrats between Rocking K and a hard place--namely, their inability to provide the council with answers to basic questions about the economic feasibility of annexing the proposed billion-dollar development.
As of press time earlier this week, there appeared to be new movement within the Rocking K project. The subdivision of land packages within the Rocking K property appeared to be underway. Can development be far behind?
Monson has always maintained the Rocking K development would proceed with or without the city's annexation.
At this point it looks like "without," which is good news for city taxpayers.
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