For many SaddleBrooke residents, Oro Valley is the place for shopping, dining, entertainment and medical services. So, it was a delight and a privilege to host our annual in-person meeting with Mayor Joe Winfield and Town Councilmembers Joyce Jones-Ivey and Harry “Mo” Greene. Oro Valley has always engaged with the SaddleBrooke Public Affairs Commission, and we are most appreciative of that.

All three of our guests come to their positions with impressive backgrounds and experience on which to draw when considering key decisions that will affect the future of Oro Valley for years to come. Yet, all three are down-to-earth and are examples of the “Small Town-Big Heart” feel that is a part of the Oro Valley brand. Both Joyce Jones-Ivey and Mo Greene have a background in medicine: Joyce was a registered nurse in California and Mo was a physician in the Massachusetts and then at the University of Arizona. Mayor Winfield is a native Arizonan who grew up in Tempe and began his career with a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Arizona. All are passionate about making Oro Valley a place where people can thrive.

It was a free-wheeling discussion, and the guests took questions from the attendees. Here are some of the highlights:

What are your immediate priorities?

Our Priorities are detailed in our Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is our roadmap: A lot of time and effort has gone into the plan. It is available on our website.

The Plan sets out seven focus areas:

  1. Economic Vitality
  2. Culture and Recreation
  3. Public Safety
  4. Maintain and improve Roads, Water and Town assets
  5. Maintain Land use and design integrity
  6. Maintain Effective and Efficient Government
  7. Financial Stability and Sustainability

Is Oro Valley going to continue to aggressively promote growth?

We believe in controlled and planned growth and are always looking for opportunities that arise. Oro Valley is 94 percent planned or built land, which means all the land within Oro Valley is either already built on or is already planned for what will be built on the land. Housing growth is rapid this year: Applications for Single Family Residential, free standing single home permits are up significantly.

What factors go into the decision to annex property in general and to annex the Westward Look Resort in particular?

Annexation should be consistent with the policies and planning set forth in the Town’s Strategic Leadership Plan (See Focus Area 7). Areas to be considered shall be prioritized as to the quantifiable benefit to the Town. Annexation is also used to fill out and square off the Town limits, which eliminates islands and peninsulas of unincorporated areas and provides an easily identifiable and manageable boundary for the Town.

In the case of the Westward Look property, the annexation was important because:

  1. The area is part of the Council Adopted Annexation Strategy Priority One of the Strategic Plan.
  2. It will allow development of a diverse and robust economic base in the area.
  3. It will promote financial and economic stability.
  4. It will provide the Town and surrounding communities with an additional resort, amenities, dining and special-event opportunities.
  5. It will provide future growth and expansion opportunities in addition to opportunities directly arising from the Westward Look Resort.
  6. It is estimated that annexation of the Westward Look will have an immediate positive 10-year annual net impact in tax revenues realized through Transaction Privilege Taxes (retail, hotel and utility) beginning in year one of $775,000, increasing to an estimated $916,000 in year ten. In addition, there is potential to generate an additional $61,000 to $562,000 of net revenue per year depending on future growth of the property.

What is the latest on the Oro Valley Marketplace?

The development was paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is resuming. The concept remains one of “mixed use” where people can live play and work in the same area. The Town hopes to have a revised application in the coming months.

Can you give us an update on the El Conquistador Country Club/Community Center?

The 36 hole El-Con golf club was open throughout the COVID pandemic restrictions and thrived. The Overlook restaurant re-opened in April. The Community Center struggled this past year with closures and is now coming back to life. This summer is hosting youth summer camps with 100 kids per week.

The Town Council recently approved a $25 Million dollar bond fund for parks and recreation throughout Oro Valley. Part of the proceeds will be used for upgrades to the golf irrigation system, renovated tennis and pickleball courts, and much needed parking lot expansion and improvement.

Proceeds from the Bonds will also be used to improve other community parks. Naranja Park will receive at least half of the funds, which will be used for sports fields, a splash pad, basketball and pickleball courts, and support facilities such as restrooms parking etc.

Any news on the status of the nine-hole Pusch Ridge Golf Course?

That course is scheduled to re-open on November 1 and will be operated by Indigo Golf Partners. The Council directed staff to go out for bids to possibly lease the course to a third party. Staff expects the course and the RFP (request for proposal) to be ready for advertising by November.

Any news on the situation involving the old Vistoso Golf Course?

Negotiations with the property owner are ongoing to find a solution.

Is Oro Valley involved in the project to repave and upgrade Oracle Road?

Oracle Road is owned and managed by the State of Arizona and is managed by the AZ Department of Transportation. The Town has been advocating for the much-needed improvements for many years, and they have finally commenced. The first phase of the Oracle Improvement Project will be from Miracle Mile to Calle Concordia and is expected to last two years. The next phase from Calle Concordia to Tangerine Road is tentatively planned to be part of the 2022 to 2025 five-year Transportation Construction Program.

The improvements of Oracle include the following:

  • Pavement rehabilitation from Interstate 10 and Miracle Mile to Calle Concordia;
  • Lighting improvements, including new LED streetlights between River and Ina Roads;
  • Roadway drainage improvement;
  • Utilities relocation;
  • Signal and intersection improvements between River and Ina Roads;
  • Reconstruction of driveways, sidewalks, and sidewalk ramps between I-10/Miracle Mile and River Road to meet ADA compliance standards;
  • Constructing new ADA-compliant ramps, sidewalks, driveways between River and Magee Roads;
  • Adding new dual left turn lanes to the intersection of Magee and Oracle Roads;
  • Installation of a storm-drain system from River to Orange Grove Roads; and
  • Reconstruction and re-pavement of the roadway from River to Calle Concordia.

What about Oro Valley’s Relationship with SaddleBrooke?

We have always appreciated SaddleBrooke and are aware of the significant contribution made by residents of SaddleBrooke to Oro Valley’s economy.

Submitted by Jo Ann Ellison, with special thanks to Jessica Hynd, Constituent Services Coordinator, Town of Oro Valley

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