Favorite 25 Pima County projects ID’d for possible bond money

2013-08-20T00:00:00Z 2013-08-20T18:13:23Z Favorite 25 Pima County projects ID’d for possible bond moneyBy Joe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The residents have spoken. More like they’ve logged on.

Pima County has released a top-25 list of the most popular projects proposed by a host of local agencies and to be funded possibly by bond money.

The projects were identified in a high-profile Web poll that got a total of 17,000 votes in the last few weeks.

The number of votes is just slightly higher than the county believes it would have received if it had mailed out a survey to all 496,597 registered voters in Pima County.

An expansion of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a new Nile hippopotamus exhibit at Reid Park, the restoration of the east tower at the San Xavier Mission and a new Health Education Campus for Pima Community College all top the list of proposed bond projects.

The county chose not to list which projects got the most votes, instead releasing a list of the top five projects for each of the five categories they were organized in.

Vern Lamplot, executive director of the nonprofit Patronato San Xavier, said he was thrilled to find continued support for the restoration project at the historic landmark.

“We are pleased the people of Tucson recognize our project and are in favor of it,” Lamplot said.

Restoration of the Spanish Catholic mission, a popular tourist destination, serves the entire community.

He noted San Xavier has become imbedded in the local culture, incorporated into the seal of both Pima County and the city of Tucson.

Michael Luria, executive director of the Tucson Children’s Museum, said he was grateful so many taking the survey recognize how important the ever-changing attraction is to Tucson families.

Last year, the museum saw a record-breaking 161,798 visitors.

Crunched for space, the museum is applying for bond funding to expand while leaving intact the historical portions of the current building, originally the Carnegie Free Library, Luria said.

Vivian VanPeenen, the curator of education at the Reid Park Zoo, said she is grateful for the support of the community.

“This zoo receives amazing community support,” VanPeenen said.

She said the zoo has been working for a number of years with zoos across the country to identify an unmet need in the national network, looking for animals that need to be housed for conservation purposes but have few places to go.

The hippo exhibit is still in the design stages, but VanPeenen envisions a large enclosure complete with an underwater viewing area.

All 144 projects will go before the Pima County Bond Advisory Committee later this year, with a recommendation expected to go to the Pima County Board of Supervisors either by the end of the year or early next year.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at jferguson@azstarnet.com or 573-4346.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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