City News

NewsNet 08-14-14

GREEN PAINT PROTECTS, GUIDES CYCLISTS ALONG PARTS OF STREETCAR ROUTE - Perhaps you've seen the green bike boxes at some Tucson intersections, guiding bike riders across streetcar tracks or into boxes at red lights? That green paint also appears at four passenger stops along the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar corridor. The green designates where the bike lane continues and wraps behind the streetcar stop. This type of bike lane treatment allows cyclists to circumnavigate the streetcar when it is stopped. "The City is looking at installing more of these types of bike lanes at transit stops, and some could even appear at bus stops," said Tucson Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Ann Chanecka.The bike lane treatments at transit stops are the latest tool from the City to make it safer for bicyclists along the 3.9 mile streetcar corridor between the University of Arizona and the Mercado District west of Interstate 10.

DEADLINE TOMORROW TO REQUEST EARLY BALLOT - If you want to vote early in Arizona's Aug. 26 Primary Election, you have until 5 p.m. tomorrow to request a vote-by-mail ballot. If you're on the permanent list for an early ballot, you should have received yours in the mail. Voters who are not registered with one of the major political parties can choose one political party's ballot to vote in the Primary - Democrat, Republican, Libertarian or Green Party. Selecting a political party ballot will not change your voter registration. If you're an Independent or Party Not Designated voter, call the Pima County Recorder's Office at (520) 724-4330, and let the operator know which party ballot you would like to receive. You can also request a ballot online.

FLAGSTAFF USING BOND MONEY TO HELP FIGHT WILDFIRES - With the cash-strapped U.S. Forest Service falling behind in treating its land to prevent wildfires, Flagstaff - which experiences about 300 fires a year - is using its own money to pay for treatment on nearby federal lands. The community is spending millions of dollars to thin 15,000 acres of forest, in an effort to make Flagstaff more resilient in the face of big forest fires, floods, violent storms, and temperature extremes. The money comes from a 2012, $10 million voter-approved bond package funded by a property tax hike. Work on State-owned land already has started, but the biggest share of the effort, in the Coconino National Forest, could start as soon as next spring. Flagstaff leaders say it appears their community is the only city in the United States using bond money for wildfire prevention. Read more from Emergency Management, and learn more about the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project.
 
MOVIES IN THE PARK SERIES CONTINUES AT REID PARK - Looking for some family-friendly entertainment on a Friday night? Movies in the Park, a Tucson summer staple since 2003, continues tomorrow at Reid Park with a free showing of "Night at the Museum." Residents are encouraged to bring blankets and chairs to enjoy a free movie every other Friday at the Demeester Performing Arts Pavilion, 900 S. Randolph Way. The event begin at 5:30 p.m. with live music, jumping castles, balloon animals, and arts and crafts exhibits from nonprofits. Popcorn, soda, and food truck vendors also will be available for an additional charge. The Movies in the Park program is hosted by Cox Communications and the Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance. Read more from Tucson News Now.

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IGR Update - Postal Service

Postal Service:
 

A group of Senators recently sent a letter to leaders of the appropriations committee asking that the committee prohibit the Postal Service from moving forward with its plan to close 80 processing facilities.  Specifically, the letter asked that a one-year moratorium on consolidations be included in any omnibus appropriations bill or continuing resolution for FY2015.

 

NewsNet 08-13-14

STREETCAR RECEIVES MORE NATIONAL PRAISE - NationSwell - a digital media company focused on American innovation and renewal - says the American-made, zero-emissions Sun Link Tucson Streetcar is a great example of a community creating an environmentally-friendly, seamless public transit experience, complete with buses. The company's website makes reference to the $1.5 billion of public and private investment along the entire route, including housing developments, restaurants, and retail. The Downtown Tucson Partnership quantifies $930 million in investment since 2008 just in the Downtown Reporting District. Sun Link connects the University of Arizona with the 4th Avenue Business District, Downtown Tucson, and the Mercado District under development west of Interstate 10. Meanwhile, a recent study by the Arizona Public Interest Research Group (ArizonaPIRG) shows the importance of public transit, saying the number of trips in Tucson increased by nearly 25 percent between 2005 and 2010. Much of the shift is being led by people between the ages of 18 to 34.
Relive the video of opening day of streetcar service from Tucson 12
 
BUSINESSES SEEING INCREASE IN SALES ALONG STREETCAR ROUTE - The Sun Link Tucson Streetcar only has been carrying passengers just shy of three weeks, but businesses along the 3.9-mile route say they're already seeing a increase in customers. "We normally close at six, but we've had a lot of people coming up to the door when we're ready to leave. So, we come back in and take care of them," said Mark Levkowitz of the downtown Chicago Music Store on East Congress Street. "So, we may consider changing our hours." Operators of nearby Tucson Olive Central say people are getting off the streetcar to browse and buy.
 
RIO NUEVO BOARD DELAYS DECISION ON PROPOSED DOWNTOWN HOTEL - The Rio Nuevo Board of Directors didn't take any final action yesterday on proposals by two downtown developers competing to build a $100 million-plus hotel project. Each developer hopes to win the chance to build on about 8.5 acres of Rio Nuevo district land near the Tucson Convention Center (TCC). The board voted 3-2 to take a few days to think about how members will individually score the proposals. The board will then vote on whether to open negotiations with a winner at a future meeting. Allan Norville, manager of Nor-Generations, and Ron Schwabe of Peach Properties, hope to develop the land behind the TCC along Granada Avenue, east of Interstate 10 and north of Cushing Street. Both proposals include plans for a hotel, parking garage and some mix of apartments, office space, restaurants, and shops. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
STATE REGULATORS OKAY SALE OF TUCSON ELECTRIC POWER'S PARENT COMPANY - The Arizona Corporation Commission yesterday unanimously approved the $4.3 billion sale of UNS Energy Corp. to Fortis Inc., a Canadian utility. The deal is expected to be finalized by the end of the month and not have any dramatic effect on ratepayers. However, Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customers will see small billing reductions - about a $1 month on average for residential customers and $200 for commercial users - under a provision of the merger deal that calls for $30 million in credits to be distributed among ratepayers over five years. Under other conditions of the merger, Fortis has committed to maintain or improve service quality, keep its current charitable commitments for at least five years, and in future rate cases filed through 2020, the company must show any proposed increases in bills are lower than they would have been without the acquisition. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
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NewsNet 08-12-14

NEW PROGRAM IN TUCSON AIMED AT BOOSTING HOMEOWNERSHIP - A new program is offering $5.5 million to increase homeownership and strengthen neighborhoods in Tucson. Wells Fargo, NeighborWorks America®, the Primavera Foundation, Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, and South Tucson Mayor Paul Diaz announced the Tucson NeighborhoodLIFT® program yesterday. Down payment assistance of $15,000 will be available for eligible homebuyers with annual incomes that do not exceed 120 percent of the Tucson area median income – about $68,400 for a family of four – with income maximums varying depending on family size and type of loan. Among other things, potential buyers must complete an eight-hour homebuyer education session with The Primavera Foundation or another HUD-approved counseling agency. “This program can help qualifying homebuyers from any approved lender,” said Mayor Rothschild. "I’m extremely grateful to Wells Fargo for their generous donation of stabilization funds. That’s good corporate citizenship.” Participants must commit to live in the home for five years and qualify for a first mortgage. The Tucson NeighborhoodLIFT® program begins with a free homebuyer event Sept. 5-6, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., at the Tucson Convention Center. Registration is required at the link below. Read more from Market Watch/Wall Street Journal.
 
SUNGO CARDS ACCEPTED ON BOTH SUN LINK STREETCAR AND SUN TRAN BUSES - The SunGO card is the best way to pay fares when riding public transit in Tucson. The card works on both the Sun Tran bus system and the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar. A SunGO card with unlimited rides for a month is just $42. If you're an occasional rider, you can load the SunGO card with a cash value to pay the $1.50 one-way fares whenever you use transit. In addition, there are many discounts available for students, low-income residents, seniors and others. If you ride the streetcar, you must have a SunGO card, or purchase a day pass with cash or a credit card from a vending machine at the stop. Cash is not accepted on the streetcar.
Watch How to Ride video for streetcar
Cómo Viajar video
 
TUCSON RECEIVES PERFECT SUSTAINABILITY SCORE FOR COMMUNITY WATER SYSTEMS
- Tucson is the fifth city in the United States to earn four out of five stars from the STAR Communities Rating System for leadership in sustainability. And in the Community Water Systems category of the STAR rating, Tucson received a perfect score. Stand out initiatives cited by STAR (Sustainability Tools for Assessing & Rating Communities) include drought preparedness, rainwater harvesting rebates, water quality initiatives, and the Sweetwater Wetlands. The Sweetwater Wetlands is a key facet of Tucson Water's reclaimed water system, where treated wastewater is filtered through recharge basins, replenishing the local aquifer. The reclaimed wastewater is then distributed for reuse at Tucson's golf courses, parks, and schools. In addition, the wetlands is an urban wildlife habitat that the public can visit seven days a week. Read Tucson's STAR report.
 
NEVADA BUSINESSES WANT INCENTIVES TO LURE TESLA; TUCSON STILL COMPETING - Nevada business leaders want their state lawmakers to consider holding a special session early next year to put together an incentive package to help lure Tesla Motors' $5 billion battery factory to the state. However, legislative leaders reportedly aren't sold on the idea. Nevada appears to have a head start in competition for the "gigafactory" after Tesla officials confirmed they have a graded dirt pad in place east of Sparks, Nevada, near Reno. Tesla says its keeping its options open with possible plans to also break ground in Tucson, or cities in Texas, California, or New Mexico. Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild recently sent Tesla a building permit to start construction on a one-story building of up to 5 million square feet in size at an address “to be determined." Tesla officials have said previously that the company wants to pick one or two sites this year and begin battery production at one of them by 2017. Read more from the Reno Gazette-Journal.
 
SCORE A DEAL ON CITY SURPLUS ITEMS - Need a wheelchair or crutches? Maybe some University of Arizona baseball caps and sunglasses? How about a digital camera, or some Blu-ray movies? You can find these items and more on the City of Tucson's surplus auction website.

NewsNet 08-11-14

CITY SEEKING DEVELOPER FOR REDEVELOPMENT OF TRANSIT CENTER - The City of Tucson is looking for a developer for a 4.7-acre site in the heart of downtown (Congress Street and Sixth Avenue) to create a distinctive multi-modal, mixed-use development incorporating a modern transit center. Adjacent to the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar line, the area currently consists of the Ronstadt Transit Center and two surface parking lots. More than $930 million in recent private and public investment - including new restaurants, shops, businesses, and housing - surround the site. Upcoming investments near the area include a grocery store, a new hotel, additional housing, and roadway improvements. The City’s goal is to transform the development site from a single-use transit center into a mixed-use development that contributes to an active, economically-robust downtown. Requests for Proposals (RFP) are due Aug. 28, 2014. More information is available at the City of Tucson Office of Integrated Planning.
 
RENOVATION OF PORT OF ENTRY AT NOGALES EXPECTED TO BE FINISHED BY END OF THIS MONTH - The Mariposa Port of Entry, built in 1973, is undergoing a nearly $200 million renovation that will substantially increase the number of inspection booths and spaces. The changes are expected to speed up the flow of commerce and visitors through the port of entry.  A 2008 study from the University of Arizona found that 5.2 percent of total taxable sales in Pima County were due to Mexican visitors. Every day, Mexican visitors to Arizona spend more than $7 million in hotels, malls, restaurants and other businesses, the report found. “We really need to nurture that clientele,” said Juan Padrés, the City of Tucson's economic development specialist for international trade. The faster visitors get through customs checks at ports of entry, like Mariposa, the more time and money they can spend in Tucson and other parts of Arizona, he said. The City of Tucson relies on sales tax to help fund basic services such as public safety, transportation, parks and recreation, and more. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
City of Tucson Economic Initiatives Office
 
REID PARK ZOO JOINS IN "WORLD ELEPHANT DAY" TOMORROW - As the Reid Park Zoo awaits the birth of the African elephant Semba's calf, the Zoo is joining with individuals and organizations around the world to demonstrate support for programs that protect elephants in the wild. They say increasing demand for ivory has created a crisis in wild elephant populations, which could drive the species to extinction. The website for World Elephant Day says 96 elephants are killed each day in Africa for their ivory tusks. The social media hashtag for the campaign is #GoGrey.
 
TOMORROW IS DEADLINE TO SIGN UP FOR CITY PARKS AND RECREATION CLASSES - Whether you like gymnastics for your children, aerobics, arts and crafts, ceramics, photography, or have some other type of interest, Tucson Parks and Recreation probably has a class for you. If you haven't already registered for a spot, you have until tomorrow to do so. You can view the Program Guide & Class Catalog online, and even register for classes.

BACK-TO-SCHOOL SAFETY TIPS FROM TUCSON FIRE DEPARTMENT - Now that classes are back in session, it's a good time to brush up on some safety tips.  Tucson Fire Department Captain Barrett Baker visited an elementary school classroom to teach parents and children how to stay safe while walking to school.

Newsnet

SUN TRAN AND TEAMSTERS ANNOUNCE NEW CONTRACT - Sun Tran and Teamsters Local 104 union members agreed on a new one-year contract last night, averting a possible work stoppage. The new contract, which stayed within the adopted 2015 budget, was ratified with a union vote of 292 to 93 in favor of the $1 million plan, which gives a one-time wage adjustment for all bargaining unit employees who have been employed longer than six months and are not in the top-rate wage level. Both parties acknowledged the importance of Sun Tran bus service to the community.

Karin's Note: Friday, August 8, 2014

Karin's Note: Friday, August 8, 2014
 
-Ward 3 Events
-Upcoming Area Neighborhood and Coalition Meeting(s)
-Citywide Events
-Did You Know?
 
**********************************************
Dear Tucsonans,
 
Here’s the latest from our Tuesday Mayor and Council meeting and other community highlights.
 
Mayor and Council Meeting
 

NewsNet 08-08-14

SUN TRAN AND TEAMSTERS ANNOUNCE NEW CONTRACT - Sun Tran and Teamsters Local 104 union members agreed on a new one-year contract last night, averting a possible work stoppage. The new contract, which stayed within the adopted 2015 budget, was ratified with a union vote of 292 to 93 in favor of the $1 million plan, which gives a one-time wage adjustment for all bargaining unit employees who have been employed longer than six months and are not in the top-rate wage level. Both parties acknowledged the importance of Sun Tran bus service to the community. On an average weekday, Sun Tran provides about 60,000 passenger trips. Read more from the Arizona Daily Star.
 
TUCSON POLICE FOUNDATION SEEKING 'UNSUNG HERO' NOMINEES - Do you know a Tucson Police officer, civilian, or volunteer with the department who has taken that extra step to help you or others? If so, please consider nominating that person for an "Unsung Hero" award. Past recipients of the awards traditionally have been nominated by Tucson Police Department members. This year, the Foundation decided to open the nominations to the public. The deadline to submit a nomination is Sept. 30, and the award ceremonies will be held Jan. 24, 2015.
Tucson Police Department Facebook page
Tucson Police Department website
 
TWO BIG BICYCLING EVENTS GEAR UP FOR FALL - Living Streets Alliance is getting ready for its big Cyclovia event Nov. 2. The route will connect the North 6th Avenue area with the North 4th Avenue- North Fontana Bike Boulevard. Volunteer opportunities are still available to help make the twice-a-year event a success. Meanwhile, organizers are nearing the end of their campaign to raise $15,000 by Aug. 15 to help pay for costs associated with the family-friendly event. Another big bicycling event in the planning stages is the Special Olympics El Tour de Tucson on Nov. 22. Registration already is underway for the annual racing event, which organizers say attracts 9,000 cyclists of all ages and abilities from throughout the United States and worldwide.
 
HOW TO BICYCLE IN THE STREETCAR ZONE - With the Sun Link Tucson Streetcar in operation, bicyclists need to be extra attentive when riding near the streetcar tracks. New markings - including green bike boxes, bike dots, and shared-lane markings - help guide cyclists where they need to be to stay safe and more visible. The City of Tucson produced a video that describes the safest ways to ride.

NEW FEMALE CAPYBARA INTRODUCED TO EXHIBIT MATE AT REID PARK ZOO - Rosie the capybara was introduced to her new exhibit last month, and after quarantine ended last week, she was able to meet Wesley, her male exhibit companion. Rosie arrived at the Reid Park Zoo in late May from the Alameda Park Zoo in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Zookeepers say the two seem to be getting along just fine. Rosie is a couple months shy of her second birthday and Wesley is 4-years-old. Capybaras are the world's largest rodents.
Photos of the two capybaras from Reid Park Zoo Facebook page
Tucson 12 / Zoo News video of Wesley

Pima County Recorder Speaks Out About Cherrybell Post Office

The following is a letter Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez sent to the Pima County Board of Supervisors about the Cherrybell Post Office situation:

Dear Supervisors,

 

You recently received communication that we mailed out over 227,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Thursday July 31st.  That was the first day we can legally begin mailing ballots by law.

 

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