Marana is moving forward on a land swap that would give the town its first community park east of the interstate.

The Town Council voted unanimously earlier this month to allow the staff to do real estate surveys and appraisals and bring the terms of the land swap to the council for final approval.

The plan is to exchange a 7.3-acre parcel owned by the town with an 18-acre parcel owned by the Sky Ranch Homeowners Association at the southeast corner of West Tangerine Road and West Camino de Mañana. 

The town wants to develop 12 of those acres with a grass field, a playground, picnic areas and rest-rooms, said parks and recreation Director Tom Ellis. 

The remaining land would be a buffer between the park, the streets and the neighborhoods.

A walking and biking path is planned for the perimeter of the park, and the path would tie in to paths that are planned as part of the Tangerine Road widening project, Ellis said.

The smaller parcel nearby was given to the town by Sky Ranch developer Scott Stiteler. He intended to build a children’s desert education center there, but that idea “never really panned out,” Town Attorney Frank Cassidy told the council. 

The parcel is too small for a town park, and its location on a private street in the gated community would create a public access problem, Cassidy said.

Instead, the homeowners association wants to keep the parcel as natural open space, said Jeannette Studer, chairwoman of the Sky Ranch Homeowners Association park committee. 

The bigger area has better public access on major roads, and the proposed park still would include features that “embrace the Sonoran Desert,” Ellis said, including natural desert areas, native plants, water harvesting and educational signs.

Sky Ranch residents “are very enthusiastic about it,” Studer said. “They want to maintain control of this lot that’s within our HOA, and they really want to see a park developed. We all see it as very much a win-win situation.”

Once the council approves the land exchange, the Parks Department would gather input from neighborhoods and seek council approval for design and construction for a potential park opening in late 2015.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 573-4251. On Twitter: @BeckyPallack