Paul's Note - March 1, 2019

I heard some good news from one of the city’s Washington lobbyists, Tracy Tucker, this week: we are only one step away from owning Udall Park free and clear.

Morris K. Udall Park was built in 1982, and came about after a land exchange between the city and the Bureau of Land Management. The exchange was supposed to be finalized through subsequent legislation. For a variety of reasons, it never happened.

Despite the odd status of the city not having clear title to the park, things went on in the intervening decades without much trouble, until we found out a few years ago that we couldn’t do certain things at the park (like the farmer’s market that used to occur there) because it was still governed by federal rules.

It’s taken many years (Udall Park has been represented by four successive congresspeople in this period), but we got the news this week that a package of over 100 public lands bills passed the senate and will move on for the president’s signature. That included S 47, which not only grants us full ownership of Udall Park, but designates the Santa Cruz River Heritage Area South of Tucson.

Chair of the Senate Natural Resources Committee made a plug for Udall Park in her speech before the package of bills was up for final passage:

Udall Park in Tucson, Arizona is a priority for the Arizona delegation, and it's one of those issues where you have a park – a pretty popular local community park – in the city. They've got all kinds of activities that you would anticipate in a small park – baseball, swimming, farmers markets. And up until just a few years ago, the local government was unaware that the federal government owned this park. We clean up the issue, which allows the city to move forward with the activities without facing these federal bureaucratic hurdles.

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We had a report from the Tucson Sugar Skulls at last week’s council meeting. The Sugar Skulls are an Indoor Football League team set to play seven games at the Tucson Community Center Arena this Spring and Summer, the first one will be on March 10th against the Bismark Bucks. They are committed to be a Tucson team, with many players with local connections on the roster. One of their first signings was Canyon Del Oro grad Robert Metz.

We’ve been able to attract teams like the Sugar Skulls and hockey’s Roadrunners because of improvements we have been able to get at the TCC. The quality of sports and other events at the arena has been good to see since those investments have been made.

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Remember that this weekend is the Festival of Books at the U of A campus. This year’s festival will include authors like Ed Asner, Janice Caplan and Luis Urrea as well as locals like Tom Sheridan and Gregory McNamee.

As a part of the event, Literacy Connects and sorority Pi Beta Phi are giving away books. As a matter of fact, they are giving away a lot of books. 20,000 books are being given to after-school programs, schools and other community groups. This is part of the sorority’s nationwide support of literacy efforts. Thank you to the young women of Pi Beta Phi for the gift to our community.