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Karin's Note: Friday, May 11, 2012

Karin's Note:  May 11, 2012

 -Limberlost Family Park Celebration Saturday

-Hedrick Acres Neighborhood Clean-up This Weekend

-Ward 3 Neighbors’ Alliance Holds May Meeting

-Bat Night Returns May 19th

 -National Public Gardens Day is May 11

-Celebrate National Train Day Saturday

-Tucson Water Holds Meetings on Proposed Water Rate Schedules

-Pro Neighborhoods Hosts Workshop

-Did you know....

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Dear Tucsonans,

URBAN INFILL

The third time can be a charm. I made two attempts since last fall to reshape the Main Gate Overlay District and in particular the transition block bounded by Euclid, 1st, Tyndall and Speedway. I also insisted that the City Attorney provide further advice to Mayor and Council on the matter prior to the formal effective date of the original plan.

This week Vice Mayor Kozachik and the Mayor/Council concurred that the transition block in particular did need to be reshaped. I believe the new plan for the block, which will be further vetted by the Zoning Examiner and the public, strikes a far better balance of density (to the east of Tyndall) and transition to the historic, low density neighborhood to the west of Euclid. I am grateful to all of the community members who worked so hard to push for sustainable infill and sound urban planning.

This may not resolve the unfortunate controversy sparked by the Main Gate Overlay process and the original plan. We have to demonstrate to the public that we will offer an inclusive and transparent planning process for any other overlays being considered (e.g. Grant Road Overlay). No back room or fast track deals.

Good process does not have to foil our progress. In fact, steady movement forward works better than this kind of one-step-forward, half-step-back turmoil.

I am confident that we can restore trust and collaborate to fulfill our shared goal: economic vibrancy and infill that works in balance with our historic assets, peaceful neighborhoods, and functional open spaces. We all have a stake in success.

 

INFILL INCENTIVES

Since 2006 I have been working hard against backroom dealing. I took the lead in demanding a sound plan for protecting and managing Tucson’s water resources. I called for the Rio Nuevo Audit and proposed the formation of the Independent Audit Commission (which recently sounded the alarm about the Golf Enterprise deficits).

We must guarantee fairness and accountability with any incentives available for development projects as well. Development agreements will be standardized so everyone fully understands both the investments and the returns agreed upon in any public-private partnership.

But before we get that far, we must offer a level playing field for all businesses that might propose viable projects. Under the new Central Business District the City can and should hire third-party reviewers to guarantee a good return for City taxpayers (such reviews are actually required under state law).

Those reviews cost money. So before we pick individual projects to take to that stage of consideration, I will be advocating that we first put out a notice to solicit letters of interest from all potential project developers within the Central Business District.

I don’t know why the Hotel Arizona keeps popping up at the front of the line, but I won’t vote to give them any edge in their bid for incentives by paying for a review of their proposal ahead of others who might have projects to pitch.  To do so would be both unfair and unwise. Let the Hotel Arizona outline their proposed deal points alongside other potential projects, and let us pick the best proposals to send to the review phase.

I’ve been in office long enough now to recognize that “the pressure to rush” is almost always a huge red flag. We’re not a private corporation, we’re handling your money. Fair and open public processes protect your money and our community’s best interest, and that’s what I’ll continue to demand.

 

BUDGET

Mayor and Council direction to the City Manager this week included the following:

  • Budget $20M vs only $2M for street repairs and maintenance
  • Stop the golf subsidy and develop a plan for golf to pay back the $6-7M owed to the City’s General Fund
  • Provide a 1% COLA to all City employees and develop a plan for future years that will improve compensation for the lower-paid positions in the organization
  • Prepare materials for a Public Hearing to help determine if the community wants a City Street Repair Bond question on the 2012 election ballot

A tentative budget will be finalized next week, with final budget adoption by Mayor/Council scheduled for June 5, 2012.

 

VANDALISM AND THEFT

New City prosecution guidelines have been implemented for acts of graffiti vandalism. Beyond our prevention and abatement efforts, we need to be sure those responsible for costly damage and blight face consequences, including restitution.

I’ve placed a discussion of copper theft on the May 22 Study Session agenda to identify better prevention and response strategies for Tucson. Who’s stealing, selling and buying copper and how can we put an end to this crime? I’ll let you know what new approaches we can take and welcome your thoughts moving forward.

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

I’ve been blessed to experience the privilege and responsibility of raising children in my loving home. Nothing has enriched my life more.

So to the moms out there, thank you and Happy Mother’s Day! May you sleep in on Sunday morning and wake to sweet gratitude for all you have given.

Karin

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Ward 3 Events:

 -Limberlost Family Park Celebration – Saturday, May 12 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Limberlost Drive and North 4th Avenue. Join neighbors as they celebrate the completion of the shade sails and rubberized landing surfaces.  Many venues for children, i.e. face-painting, balloons—and the new, cooler and safer playground equipment.

-Hedrick Acres Neighborhood Cleanup – Saturday, May 12 from 7:00 - 9:00 a.m. Meet at the Navajo Wash, northwest corner of Mountain and Hedrick. Come meet your neighbors, chat and have a cool drink. Help out with weeding and trash pick-up (if you’re able) or just stop by to meet the committed folks that keep the “pocket park” looking great!

- Ward 3 Neighbors’ Alliance Meeting – Wednesday, May 16 at 6:00 p.m. Woods Memorial Library, 3455 N. First Avenue. Topic: “Enhancing Neighborhood/Business Connection – How businesses and neighborhoods can better support each other.”

-Bat Night Returns May 19thBack by popular demand, the Rillito River Project hosts the 5th Annual Bat Night, this time in the spring to mark the arrival of our nocturnal neighbors for their summer stay in Tucson. Free and open to the public.

Welcome the Bats to Tucson Saturday, May 19th at 6:00 p.m. at the Rillito River, just east of the Campbell Avenue Bridge. This year, 140 students from Rio Vista Elementary School, led by nationally acclaimed choreographer Barbea Williams, will entertain the crowd with their very own Bat Dance… and teach us the Bat Dance too!  At sunset, watch 45,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats fly out from under the Campbell Avenue Bridge to forage for food—600 lbs. of mosquitos! Be a part of this growing Tucson tradition, the marquee event of the nonprofit Rillito River Project, dedicated to raising awareness of local environmental and ecological issues through art, performance, lectures and special events.  For more info visit www.rillitoriverproject.org

Fun fact #1: These 45,000 Mexican Free-Tailed Bats that just arrived in Tucson for the summer are all females, and they're mostly all pregnant.

Fun fact #2: They did not arrive here pregnant. Rather, they carried the sperm with them from Mexico and only once here, allow the sperm and the egg to meet. Therefore, they're all going to have their little baby bats, called "pinkies," roughly at the same time.

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City Wide Events:

-National Public Gardens Day – Friday, May 11. Two local gardens will participate in this free admission day to celebrate spring. Tucson Botanical Gardens at 2150 N. Alvernon and Tohono Chul Park at 7366 N. Paseo del Norte open their doors for a day to enjoy spring blooms and cooler temperatures. More info: www.tucsonbotanicalgardens.org and www.tohonochulpark.org

-National Train DaySaturday, May 12 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Historic Tucson Train Depot, 414 N. Toole. Lots of activities for train buffs. More info: www.TucsonHistoricDepot.org

-Tucson Water Outreach Meetings for Proposed Water Rate Schedules.  Tucson Water continues its outreach on proposed water rate schedule with the following meetings:  Tuesday, May 15 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Mission Library, 3770 S. Mission Road; and Tuesday, May 17 from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. at Miller-Golf Links Library, 9640 E. Golf Links Road. All meetings are open to the public. For more info: 791-4331 or www.tucsonaz.gov/water

-Pro Neighborhoods Workshop – Wednesday, May 23, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. Ward 6 Conference Room, 3202 E. 1st Street. “Making Things Happen With What We Already Have” invites neighbors to learn how community groups can identify the talents, skills and knowledge of residents to improve the condition of the neighborhoods. More info: janderhat@cox.net or 795-1512

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Did You Know…

…that Catalina Rotary Tucson is the first sponsor to step forward in support of opening City pools for the summer with their pledge of $25,000 to open Jacobs Pool?  If you’d like to support Catalina Rotary’s effort to make that happen, you can purchase $5 raffle tickets--winner will receive a $500 gas card. More information is available at the Ward 3 Council at 791-4711.

…that two Ward 3 neighborhood pools will “re-open” next month? Mansfield and Jacobs Pools are scheduled to open on May 30. In addition, Jacobs Pool will hold an opening celebration, sponsored by Catalina Rotary Tucson on Friday, June 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with a barbeque and activities for children. On Saturday, June 2 from noon to 5:00 p.m. there will be an opening celebration at Mansfield pool with hot dogs and ice cream sponsored by the Mansfield Park Neighborhood Coalition. Much more info to follow!

…that Council Member Karin Uhlich is once again hosting a “Trim Your Energy Wasteline Workshop?” This is a free, 2 hour energy conservation workshop for homeowners sponsored by Tucson Electric Power, City of Tucson Ward 3 Council Office, and the Metropolitan Energy Commission. Next Workshop is scheduled for Saturday, June 9 at 2:00 p.m. at the Ward 3 Council Office, 1510 E. Grant Road. Space is limited so if you’d like to reserve a seat and learn how to reduce your energy bills, call Cheryl Rodgers in the Ward 3 office at 837-4231. Free gifts and light refreshments will be offered to all participants.