Props Lessons

From open space to preservation, here’s a closer look at three of the seven bond propositions from Pima County

Three of the seven questions in the $815 million bond package that voters will decide on Tuesday, Nov. 3, deal with open space, historic preservation, parks and recreation, and flood control Prop 428 would fund $191 million in improvements to parks.

Pima County Supervisor Ray Carroll, a Republican who is supporting all seven bond proposals, said that the bond dollars will allow the county and other jurisdictions to make repairs to parks all across the region.

"A lot of these parks are not only in sore need of upgrades as far as facilities such as lighting and restrooms go, but some parks have deferred maintenance that needs to be attended to," Carroll says. "Coming out of the recession, it's important that we beef up some of our parks—not just the fields and the parking lots, but the other infrastructure that makes people's enjoyment of our parks even better."

Joe Boogaart, the spokesman for Taxpayers Against Pima Bonds, agrees that "there's a lot of deferred maintenance in the parks system and I think we need to correct that," but he's still opposed to Prop 428, largely because it also includes $25 million to expand soccer facilities at Kino Park, where the county hopes to develop a major soccer facility for local teams and major tournaments.

"I think this is just a reluctance to admit defeat on the baseball stuff and so now we're going to buy more land and build soccer fields and this is more money that we're going to look at 10 years, 20 years down the line and try to figure out what else to do with it," Boogaart says. "How many people from that area can go out to Kino and play soccer or baseball or whatever? They have no transportation to get there."

Prop 430 would allow the county to borrow $112 million for open space and historic preservation. The big-ticket item is $95 million for new open-space purchases.

Carroll said it makes sense to have money for open space purchases now because it will help both the county and local developers avoid issues with endangered species. Plus, he says, the land isn't going to get cheaper.

"This is an excellent time to purchase land," Carroll said. "Land is not going to go down in price over the next 20 years. The open space question raises some eyebrows, but in the long term, it's going to be seen as an excellent decision to buy ranches and other space on the outskirts of our community."

But Boogaart says the county already has plenty of open space and is skeptical of the county's approach to dealing with endangered species through the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan.

"It just doesn't make sense to me," Boogaart says.

Prop 430 also includes various historic-preservation projects, such as $2.5 million for restoration work at San Xavier Mission, $1.5 million for rehabilitation of Dunbar School and $4 million toward major improvements at the north-central Fort Lowell Park.

Demion Clinco, the executive director of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, said that the funding to preserve and restore historic landmarks in Prop 430, along with the other props, "enriches the dynamics of our community."

"Historic preservation is a key component of our tourism industry," Clinco said. "We depend on tourism for so many of our region's jobs and people are coming here because of our unique historic and cultural resources. People will come here and pay money to stay in our hotels, spend money in our restaurants and support our local economy."

Boogaart says the restoration project at San Xavier should have gone into Prop 427, which includes tourism projects.

"If it's not a tourist item, then the Indian tribe ought to be fixing it up themselves," Boogaart says. "It's in the wrong category, but 22 percent of our population is Catholic and I'm sure Mr. (Chuck) Huckelberry (the county administrator) and Mr. (Larry) Hecker (the chair of the bond committee) know that statistic and they think they'll probably get a yes vote from 22 percent of the population. So to me the whole package, the $815 million, has been designed."

Carroll, who is active with the local Catholic diocese, added that the dollars to repair a tower at San Xavier Mission was a worthwhile project, especially since the Patronato San Xavier is matching the county's contribution.

"You don't have to be a Catholic to want to preserve the San Xavier del Bac Mission," Carroll said. "It's a 17th century iconic structure that needs to be completely redone on the east tower or we're going to lose it."

Prop 431 would provide just under $17 million for five drainage programs, including $7 million for work at the confluence of the Santa Cruz, Rillito and Canyon del Oro rivers, the site of a future major park; $2 million for flood control work on the Tohono O'odham reservation and $2 million for flood control work on the Pascua Yaqui reservation.

"It's small potatoes compared to the other six questions but it is important for two Native American nations as well as other parts of our community that need flood control," Carroll said. "The work needs to be done."

Boogaart says that the county should use its normal taxing authority to do those projects rather than borrow the money to get it done.

"But it's my opinion that work is government's responsibility," Boorgaart says. "That's probably the one I have the least problem with."

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