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Karin's Note: Friday, July 13, 2012

Karin's Note:  July 13, 2012

-“Wipe Out Graffiti” day is Saturday!

-Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance Meeting

-Second Saturdays Downtown

-Tucson Parks Foundation 2nd Annual Night at the Ballpark

-Did you know....

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Dear Tucsonans,

Way To Go!

Never a community to stand idly by in the face of challenges, Tucson’s neighborhoods and volunteers will be tackling graffiti in earnest tomorrow, Saturday, July 14. The Cabrini, Dodge Flower, Doolen-Fruitvale, North Dodge, and Oak Flower neighborhoods have joined with my staff, GPC (the City’s graffiti abatement contractor) and Carrington College for a full sweep against tags. In fact, Carrington College has committed seventy volunteers for the event!

Please contact Cheryl Rodgers in my office if you’d like to help tomorrow or to learn more about organizing a similar event in your area. Thanks to Cheryl, GPC, neighborhood activists, and Carrington College for working so hard to beautify Tucson.

I also wanted to be sure you were aware of an article recently written for Inside Tucson Business by former City Council Member Carol West regarding the Tucson Arts Brigade The Tucson Arts Brigade combines the talents of young adults with neighborhood and community volunteers to create stunning murals (some of which now enhance areas in Ward 3). According to the Tucson Police Department’s own graffiti prevention specialists, the Brigade’s approach has proven effective in preventing graffiti while improving Tucson with meaningful, colorful art.

To read Carol West’s article follow this link: http://www.insidetucsonbusiness.com/opinion/columnists/carol_west/tucson-arts-brigade-turning-taggers-into-stewards/article_89ab3c70-c16f-11e1-b342-001a4bcf887a.html.  You can also learn more at the Tucson Arts Brigade website: www.tucsonartsbrigade.org

Preserving History, Preventing Blight

Some years ago I worked with a dear friend and colleague Cecilia Campillo both at the Primavera Foundation and The Center for Economic Integrity. I vividly recall her frustration and anger over the demolition of Tucson’s longtime downtown drugstore, a place of significance for her and so many others who have deep roots here. That demolition happened less than a decade ago, and followed a painful pattern in our City of undervaluing and indeed destroying historic treasures.

I heard from many of you about the proposal to invest $1.1 million of the City’s federal Community Development Block Grant allocation to preserve the historic Marist College building across from the Tucson Convention Center. Most expressed support for that investment, and I voted in favor of saving the building at our Mayor/Council meeting on Tuesday.

The identified federal funding specifies both blight prevention and historic preservation as priority uses, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has already approved the Marist College allocation. While the City also allocates CDBG funding from HUD for housing development and other priorities, our responsibilities cover a broad range of community needs and wide range of federal funding resources. Having reviewed the proposal for the Marist College in the context of the City’s full housing and community development portfolio, I believe staff recommended the right balance for this year’s investment plan.

I respect the detailed motion offered by Council Member Romero and the added amendments generated by colleagues at the table to insist that:

1) The Catholic Diocese repay the federal funds to the City from any sales or other proceeds generated from the building in the future and in no way financially benefit from this investment, and

2) The City confirm that the $1.1 million will in fact preserve the structure, or that any additional money needed to guarantee that outcome be in hand prior to the expenditure of our CDBG money.

I believe it makes sense to preserve this unique and historic treasure instead of watching it turn to blight. It’s a one-of-a-kind building in Arizona that will augment downtown revitalization and generate jobs well into the future. It’s also adjacent to historic barrios bulldozed decades ago. This part of history will read differently.

Housing Investment

Congratulations to the Hearth Foundation on their recent award over $700,000 from the Arizona Department of Housing to completely renovate their transitional housing property in Ward 3. Construction will begin in early August.

This success, earned through years of hard work by the Hearth Foundation staff and Board of Directors, leverages funding to help meet Tucson’s need for supportive and affordable housing. It’s a great example of how federal, state, local and  private sector resources combine to meet the needs of our community.

Annexation at River and Craycroft

I also heard from many of you regarding the proposed annexation of the properties at the southeast corner of Craycroft and River. My colleagues and I reviewed hundreds of pages of public testimony as well as the negotiated conditions prior to the Public Hearing on Tuesday. In the end Mayor and Council voted to approve the annexation subject to specific recommendations from the Zoning Examiner and staff.

Concerns raised regarding traffic planning and mitigation, continuation of the bike path and river park, and on-site vehicular flow have merit and would quite frankly be issues whether or not the development enters the City limits (the County already approved the gas station/convenience store and charter school). Conditions of the annexation, modifications to the planned area development accepted by the owners, and the City’s dedication of transportation and parks impact fees to the area will all go a long way toward fulfilling our key priorities.

Our staff  has done their best with the developers to address issues raised while allowing for the projects to proceed to the benefit of the broader community. I was surprised that a clear majority of area residents in attendance Tuesday spoke (or completed cards) in favor of the annexation, an indication to me that any further associated challenges can be and will be tackled in collaboration with neighbors and Pima County.

Street Car Purchase

The Mayor and Council received unexpected word of a $3.6 million requirement imposed by the Federal Transit Administration for the purchase of an eighth street car vehicle (we had anticipated the purchase of seven streetcars vs. eight). $2 million of this can be covered through the sale of reduced-price purchase options owned by the City on five cars beyond the eight now being required. While we voted to allow for last resort, general fund borrowing to cover the remaining $1.6 million, we directed staff to aggressively pursue federal, state, RTA and private sources in order to avoid the use of any general fund dollars.

Election Integrity

Tucson will be joining other cities across Arizona to defend local autonomy and election processes against another assault from the state legislature and Governor. A bill passed in the past session that would force City elections into even-year cycles (our Charter prescribes elections in odd-numbered years). The State’s move has far-reaching implications that could change a whole lot about the way Tucson’s elections run. If Tucson voters want changes we can propose those and seek approval through a ballot question. In the meantime apparently the State has no hesitation in costing all taxpayers millions by dragging us all into court yet again.

Fortunately they can’t take the heart and soul out of Tucson. I hope the events and information below interest you and keep you proud of all that our great City has to offer.

Thanks,

Karin

Note: Summer Hours for the Ward 3 Council: Monday–Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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Ward 3 Events:

- “Wipe Out Graffiti Day” - Saturday, July 14 from 7:00 a.m. to Noon – Meet at St. Francis Cabrini Church, 3201 E. Presidio. 5 neighborhoods, along with Graffiti Protective Coatings and volunteers from Carrington College will participate. Breakfast and lunch, t-shirts provided. More info: Cheryl Rodgers at 791-4711.

- Ward 3 Neighbors Alliance Meeting – Wednesday, July 18 at 6:00 p.m. Woods Memorial Library, 3455 N. 1st Avenue. Topic: Recreating Our Lives With Leisure.  More info: Marc at 881-4582.

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City Wide Events:

 - Second Saturdays Downtown – Saturday, July 14, 6:00- 10:00 p.m. Music, food, performances, Folklorico. More info (including parking): www.2ndsaturdaysdowntown.com

- Tucson Parks Foundation 2nd Annual Night at the Ballpark With the Padres – Wednesday, July 18 at 7:05 p.m. Kino Veteran’s Memorial Stadium 2500 E. Ajo Way. General admission tickets for $4 are available for purchase at: www.tucsonparks.org  $1 hotdogs too! Join in the family fun. All fundraising helps to support Tucson Parks and Recreation KIDCO programs.

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Did You Know…

  …the Tucson Homeless Connect event is coming up on July 27? This event provides goods and services to help the homeless get back on their feet. If you’d like to make a contribution to this event by donating new items (sunscreen, hygiene products, flip flops, etc) or cash donations, please contact Kim Fitch at 382-0602.

…the City of Tucson and the Regional Transportation Authority will conduct a Groundbreaking Ceremony at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 26 at the southwest corner of Grant and 10th Avenue? Council Member Karin Uhlich will be on hand to kick off  Phase One of the Grant Road Improvement Plan.  More info: Jeri Ward at 837-6758 or Ward 3 Council Office: 791-4711.

…that Woods Memorial Library (3455 N. 1st Avenue) has Family Storytime on Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.? Through August 4th, these Storytimes offer an opportunity for parents to introduce their children to reading and language in a fun way. More info: http://www.library.pima.gov/calendar/?ID=11784