Ft. Lowell historic restoration allowed to proceed

2013-08-07T00:00:00Z Ft. Lowell historic restoration allowed to proceedJoe Ferguson Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 07, 2013 12:00 am  • 

A fight over the planned restoration of the historic officers' quarters at Fort Lowell is over.

City officials said Tuesday night that they will allow the restoration work to continue despite a lack of funds to build an adjoining parking lot as initially planned and required by both federal and city codes.

Pima County had put the project on hold late last month after learning the city was going to insist it had to build a 19-space parking lot, complete with four spaces compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Jonathan Mabry, the city's historic-preservation officer, said preservation of the three officers' quarters is vital to preserving the 130-year-old buildings.

"The city and the county are in agreement that this is the priority for the remaining bond money and there is nothing precluding the preservation of those buildings right now," Mabry said.

The announcement from city officials came a few hours after a memo issued by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

In the memo to the Board of Supervisors, Huckelberry said he would cancel the contract by Aug. 25 with Durazo Construction to begin restoration work on the historic structures if the fight with the city were not resolved.

The city continues to say that without a parking lot, Tucson won't allow the site to be open to the public.

"That project cannot be closed - or completed - until the full scope of the parking lot is done," said Fred Gray, director of Tucson Parks and Recreation.

Mabry said it is possible the parking lot still could be built if the project comes in under budget.

The county has less than $1 million of the $2.5 million in historic-preservation bonds approved by voters in 2004 to spend on the restoration. It spent more than $1.5 million to buy the property on East Fort Lowell Road at North Craycroft and to prepare it for restoration.

County officials estimated it would cost $46,000 to build the parking lot. However, the lowest bid was $85,000. The bids came in from highly skilled preservation craftsman, leaving some officials to wonder if the lot could be built for less by a general contractor.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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