Oro Valley Town Talk: Play. Plan. Participate.
Published on November 17, 2020
by Kristy Diaz-Trahan, Parks and Recreation Director, Town of Oro Valley
Read Online Here
The highly-anticipated Naranja Park Playground is now open for play! On November 17, the Town Council held a small, COVID-compliant ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate opening this new epic playground—a playground the Town Council identified in their two-year Strategic Leadership Plan back in 2019. After identifying resources and getting community input, we know families are as excited as we are to see this playground come to fruition.
Once all the finishing touches are complete, visitors will be welcomed with an oversized “OV’ sign upon entering the park. This is the perfect backdrop for a family picture or a selfie. (#PlayOVNaranja for all you hashtaggers!) One quick word of advice: make sure your phone battery is fully charged. There will be so many memorable moments you’ll want to capture and commemorate. While you’re taking pictures, the kids will have to decide whether to maneuver up the adventure tower, fly down the zip line, or climb the spider web. Families can set their blanket on the hillside grass or under a ramada and get settled in. This playground will provide hours of entertainment: running, rolling on the hills, crawling through logs, spinning on chairs or digging in the dirt and playing with the water feature—when the weather is warm enough, of course! And don’t forget to continue to be mindful of COVID-19 safety precautions.
The Council’s Strategic Leadership Plan also included “Conducting a comprehensive, community-wide needs assessment for parks and recreation amenities and programs, including such things as sports fields and courts, play structures, water/splash features and community space…” This planning has been underway since last year. Thank you to all who participated and provided feedback in the spring. Many of you have seen the results of that assessment conducted by PROS Consulting, which were initially presented to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (PRAB) and Town Council in April.
The next step in the process is another Council goal: Developing a comprehensive, town-wide Parks and Recreation Master Plan with individual plans for the Community Center, James D. Kriegh Park, Riverfront Park, Naranja Park and Steam Pump Ranch.
The community’s park and recreation desires were prioritized as high, medium or low priorities. Then, each desire was categorized as either (1) Recreation Programs and Amenities or (2) Parks, Facilities and Amenities while keeping its prioritization.
The next step was an equity mapping exercise. This process identified all park and recreation amenities across the Town, including private and HOA park spaces. When mapped, this assessment helps Town staff understand the true nature and location of all amenities that serve Oro Valley residents, so we can visually see how these facilities serve neighborhoods. Town code requires new residential developments include recreation amenities, which is why there are dozens of private mini and neighborhood parks throughout town.
This is where the equity mapping process and the commitment to deliver and implement a fiscally responsible plan come in. It’s worth noting that all items may or may not be included in the final master plan. For example, golf was identified as the top priority in the medium list for Parks, Facilities and Amenities; however through the equity mapping process, five 18-hole golf courses were identified in Oro Valley. Even though some are private, it was concluded that additional golf courses are not necessary to meet the needs of our community.
The community’s top facility/amenity priority was trails (natural and paved), as well as open space conservation. This is not surprising. Our beloved trail systems are actively used and important to the overall health and well-being of our community. We will take a close look at how we can either improve existing trails or add more. For undeveloped, private property the Town works closely with the property owner when they submit a development plan to identify those kinds of opportunities.
It’s important that I address the former Rancho Vistoso Golf Course. Earlier this fall, the property owner, Romspen Investment of Toronto Canada, rejected an offer from The Conservation Fund (TCF) to purchase the 208-acre property. Had the deal been successful, TCF proposed to purchase the property with the stated goal of transitioning it to a Town of Oro Valley public space. But this did not happen. As such, the Town does not currently have legal authority to plan someone else’s private property.. Please know: we have heard you. Additionally, based on resident feedback I have directed the consultant to more clearly delineate the need for an additional public community park north of Tangerine in the future and specify that the Town should seek opportunities to add such an amenity through partnerships, land purchase or other means.
This is where we need help! The PRAB reviewed the five preliminary concept plans for the Town’s existing park/recreation amenities at their November 17 meeting. The concept plans are now available online to view and comment through December 18. Visit the Town’s website and click on the “Discuss” feature to review each plan and submit comments. This is your plan! The more Oro Valley residents we hear from, the better the outcome.
After December 18, the consulting team will compile the comments and make adjustments to the concept plans. We’ll hold another community meeting (via Zoom) on January 7. The updated plans will then be presented to PRAB at their January 19 Zoom meeting, so you have another opportunity to listen and participate!
This is an exciting time for Oro Valley Parks and Recreation. The goal is for the Town Council to adopt a fiscally implementable and sustainable Master Plan in April 2021. Then it will be the roadmap for investments over the next 10 years. Stay up-to-date on all the opportunities for public engagement at www.orovalleyaz.gov.