How do we calculate the value of a piece of property? Is it found in the property’s past — to be remembered and preserved — unchanged? Today, this calculation is being debated over a unique piece of property in Tucson.
The currently “undeveloped” land is central to the history of Tucson and has the potential to provide future recreation and revenue. This land, a capped landfill, is east of Sentinel Peak, across the Santa Cruz River from our vibrant downtown, near the streetcar and the Loop, connecting the culture and energy of the historic neighborhoods to the south and west.
This special piece of property is not only the birthplace of the Tohono O’odham Nation, but it also contains a 4,000-year-long archaeological record of human habitation, marking one of the longest continually inhabited areas of North America. The question is, “What is the highest and best use of the land?” Remote access parking for businesses? Corporate offices and condominiums? Ecological and historical preservation? Community recreation? Nothing?
Diverse stakeholders disagree.
Our community can develop this unique property in a way that not only honors the heritage of the land and the history of Tucson but also benefits both community health and economic growth. A plan has been created incorporating the collective dreams of all — a plan that tells the history of our community, shares the diverse flora and fauna of our native Sonoran Desert, provides recreational opportunities, and adds additional revenue streams for the city and county.
The proposed park would feature the Convento, a Hohokam Village, the Carrillo House, a wildlife corridor, 25-acres of open space with native plants, walking and jogging paths, a bike park and a community park with playground, splashpad, dog park and sport courts.
Tucson is the premier bicycling destination in the nation, from the climb up Mt. Lemmon to the Loop, 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race to El Tour de Tucson. Our community is a mecca for winter training for road riders and mountain bikers seeking incomparable trails.
Cycling, which provides an amazing quality of life for residents, has made Tucson a healthier community and draws tourists and worldwide attention to our region. But the planned inclusion of a bike park east of A Mountain has been questioned.
The bike park concept grew through meetings with neighbors, elected officials, current property owners, Rio Nuevo and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Adjacent to our 133-mile multi-use trail, the Loop, it would feature a BMX track, mountain bike skills park, pump track, jump track, cyclocross and velodrome.
The velodrome, a banked oval used for international competitions, would attract even more people from around the world to train, compete and support Tucson.
Rio Nuevo, which owns the property, can only back projects that show a return on the investment. An economic study shows the velodrome will have an annual equivalent to El Tour de Tucson, our second largest event, and deliver approximately $20 million into the community each year.
Exploring and expanding the full range of bicycling attractions will result in increased revenue and positive publicity for Tucson, while bringing about a shared experience everyone can enjoy.
While legitimate concerns still need to be addressed, together we can build a future on this unique piece of property that honors its past and supports a healthy community and improved quality of life for all. We welcome your comments and the opportunity to share our plans with you. Our past, present and future are now.