Yeah sure: Pima County is willing to spare Golden Pin Lanes.

That’s the message a group of about 20 activists trying to save Tucson’s biggest bowling center heard during a meeting with county officials Tuesday.

Now, all that those activists need to do is go find a buyer who is willing to overpay for the property — a total price of $2.85 million.

It’s going to be tough.

A movement has slowly gathered strength since May, when the county Board of Supervisors voted to buy the 48-lane bowling center from owner Don Allan, to somehow save the bowling business. Bowlers and other supporters of saving Golden Pin Lanes have been speaking at board meetings, making calls and gathering signatures on petitions — well over 1,000 at this point.

The county is planning to renovate the 51,000-square-foot building and put a county health clinic, adult probation office, Women Infant Children program office, and other services all in that location. The idea is that buying the building lets the county stop leasing at various different sites and to create one convenient service center at 1010 W. Miracle Mile.

“This is a great spot, but it’s so contentious for folks,” deputy county administrator Jan Lesher told me.

As I argued in a May column, leaving aside the high cost of the purchase and renovation, there’s also the fact that Golden Pin is a treasured social center and even an economic generator on the near northwest side of town, in the Flowing Wells area. It’s a functioning business that brings people together for fun and activity. The only problem is the owner wanted to sell, and the property was worth more as offices than as a bowling center.

Now the county owns it and has recognized at least some error in the way it moved forward with the purchase, said advocate Sandra Wong, who was at the meeting also attended by Lesher and supervisors Richard Elías and Sharon Bronson.

“They basically admitted that they screwed up in that they didn’t solicit input from anyone in the community,” Wong said.

The bowling business is still operating now, and a professional tournament is scheduled there for June, after which the county is planning to start renovations.

But the only thing to do now is find somebody willing to pay about a million dollars more than the property is worth, Wong said.

“It’s only worth as a bowling center maybe $1.75 (million),” she said.

Lesher noted that there could also be lease options if the county can make back the money it has put into the property.

But all those seem about as likely as bowling a 300 game.

Yemen vote missed

You might expect Rep. Raúl Grijalva to be solidly behind congressional efforts to stop U.S. participation in the Saudi war on Yemen. It’s his kind of issue.

But a key vote occurred in the U.S. House Wednesday, and Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat, was nowhere to be found. The vote was on a Republican effort to allow the massive farm bill to also contain language preventing the House from taking up a war-powers resolution through the end of the year on stopping U.S. support for the Saudi war in Yemen. The House voted to allow the measure in the farm bill, by 206-203. A few votes would have made the difference.

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Grijalva didn’t mean to miss the vote, and would have voted no, he told me Thursday. He was present for one vote but didn’t realize there would be three separate votes on the bill. He missed the last two because he attended a presentation in the U.S. Senate by Sheldon Whitehouse on the heating of the climate.

Rep. Martha McSally, a Tucson Republican, voted yes, helping to prevent the House from voting on Yemen the rest of the year. Rep. Tom O’Halleran, a Democrat, voted no.

It won’t be long, though, till the House can take up a war-powers resolution on Yemen. Democrats are likely to raise it when they take over that chamber in January.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution requiring that the president order U.S. military forces removed from Yemen and from supporting the Saudi war there. Arizona’s Republican senators split on the resolution, with Jeff Flake voting for the resolution and Jon Kyl voting against.

McSally’s last speech

In her final floor speech Thursday, McSally thanked her staff and constituents and exhorted fellow members to make good use of their time in office.

“Membership in this body is a precious opportunity. Don’t take it lightly and don’t squander it,” McSally said, adding: “Do the right thing, do it for the right reasons and get things done.”

She said she is proud all five of the bills she authored that were signed into law had bipartisan support.

“Our challenge is to find the sometimes very tiny sliver of common ground where we can agree — and govern.”

McSally chose not to run for re-election to the House after two terms in office. Last month, she lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the race for U.S. Senate.

Contact: or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter


Tim Steller is the Star’s metro columnist. A 20-plus year veteran of reporting and editing, he digs into issues and stories that matter in the Tucson area, reports the results and tells you his opinion on it all.