It's a Wash

Despite TUSD stalling, the county has big plans for Arroyo Chico

Tucson, Pima County and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will complete the $17.5 million Arroyo Chico project--including new ballfields and football field renovation for Tucson High School--under a proposal that goes before city council Oct. 25.

Stalled by bureaucratic intransigence at TUSD and powerful neighborhood opposition, the second and final phase of the Arroyo Chico project will remove about 1,400 properties from the 100-year floodplain.

The first phase removed 800 properties from the floodplain, mostly in Colonia Solana and the Broadmoor neighborhoods. That relieved property owners from requirements for flood insurance. The project installed detention basins in a redesigned Del Urich golf course, formerly Randolph South.

Included in the new proposal are:

· A 42-acre greenbelt and public park that will be the site for a federally funded native plant habitat restoration project.

· New bicycle and walking trails with paved disabled access.

· A community center building for Barrio San Antonio and the Miles Neighborhood.

· Public art.

For TUSD, the project will reconfigure the Cherry Fields, baseball and softball facilities between Cherry Avenue and Kino Parkway, south of 13th Street.

TUSD also will get improvements worth up to $750,000 to the Tucson High football field, and practice and meet access for the Tucson High swim teams at a new pool at the Quincie Douglas Center. The pool will be built with a boost of $1.45 million from the Pima County Flood Control District and operated by city Parks and Recreation.

And TUSD will get the title to the land--now owned by the city--on which Roskruge Middle School sits, the title to city land that includes the north end of the Tucson High football field, as well as other city property.

The agreement is the culmination of eight years of negotiation in a start-stop project.

"I had high hopes of breaking this loose when (Stan) Paz came on as TUSD superintendent," County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said.

Paz's predecessor, George Garcia, and his staff repeatedly balked at the proposal and Paz, forced out after nearly four years last spring, was consumed by internal TUSD battles.

The TUSD board approved the project provisions, which have sweetened the pot for the school district compared to previous proposals.

In an Oct. 18 memo, City Manager James Keene told members of the city council that Pima County taxpayers will fund the cost of a detention basin at the Mission View Wash, freeing the city to pay for the cost of upgrades at the Tucson High football field.

Approval by the Board of Supervisors is pending.