Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield highlighted the many city improvements made over the past year during the 20th Annual State of the City Address at the El Conquistador Tucson Hilton Resort on Thursday, October 28.
Winfield stood in front of more than 650 attendees to express his gratitude to city staff for responding to the hardships caused by the pandemic. He said that most of the departments have succeeded in creating innovative solutions that will remain operational in the future.
“I always say we are successful because we have a city council, city staff and the Chamber of Commerce, who are dedicated to supporting local businesses,” Winfield said.
With the money provided by the federal CARES law, the OV Safe Steps program was established through a partnership between the City and the Chamber of Commerce.
The program distributed $ 1 million in aid to 200 local businesses.
“The program has resulted in a strong database of nearly 600 local businesses which allows faster and more direct communication with them,” Winfield said. “These efforts have led to a new culture of respect between business and local government. “
The Parks and Recreation Department had its own ideas for innovation. They created a new online program that allows people to reserve recreation space in accordance with COVID security procedures. Winfield said the program has been a success with park visitors and parks staff will continue to manage reservations with him. Winfield was particularly proud of the department and its plans for the future.
Against the backdrop of the Catalina Mountains, Winfield also expressed his enthusiasm for the latest beautification projects in the Oro Valley.
Oro Valley City Council last year approved the new Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which has become a guiding document for the city’s recreational goals. The plan identified several improvements requested by the community and the city approved a bond package to pay them.
“The council recently approved increased use of the half-cent sales tax, as well as low-interest $ 25 million bond financing for park improvement and maintenance,” Winfield said.
Winfield drew public attention to a video of Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director Kristy Diaz-Trahan for a quick explanation. Diaz-Trahan was filmed outside Naranja Park to visualize how the park will change over the next few years. She said the park will have a new playground, sports fields, pickleball courts, basketball courts, a skate park and a BMX area.
The obligation will also support the creation of a 40% increase in parking for Naranja Park and new connections to the city’s walking trail networks.
Winfield said another major achievement for parks and recreation this year was the installation of a new ADA accessible playground at Naranja Park.
“People, playgrounds these days are a lot cooler than when we were kids,” he said. “I’m going to tell you the secret, at the Inauguration Council we decided that we should probably test the equipment to make sure it’s safe. “
The park’s playgrounds aren’t the only places residents of the Oro Valley have had fun this year. The golf courses owned by the town of Oro Valley have seen their revenues increase.
In May 2020, the City signed a new agreement with Indigo Golf Partners for the management of the City’s golf courses. Winfield said the 36-hole El Conquistador Golf Course had a 16% increase in membership and a 46% increase in public play this year. Winfield attributed the success to Indigo’s overtime tee times, renewed public interest in the outdoors, and the new El Conquistador Golf mobile app. In addition, the 9-hole Pusch Ridge golf course was scheduled to open this week, Monday, November 1.
Public works got a facelift last year with the repaving of Oracle Road from Magee to Calle Concordia.
“I see a lot more smiles on Oracle Road,” Winfield said.
A partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation made this project possible and Winfield said ADOT will repav the remaining section of Oracle Road from Calle Concordia to Tangerine Road next year.
Additionally, Oracle was treated particularly well last year with Mayor’s Keep Oro Valley Beautiful campaign. Winfield said he worked with city staff to organize a volunteer drive-in event on Oracle’s Suffolk Drive at Rancho Vistoso Blvd. Over 200 volunteers filled 200 large bags of trash.
“I wanted to create an opportunity where groups could come together on a chosen day to make a difference in the community,” said Winfield.
The town’s improvements have been recognized with several awards this year.
The city’s planning division received the Arizona Planning Association Public Outreach 2020 award for its work in producing informational videos and organizing Zoom public meetings on changing the city’s general plan.
The La Cholla Boulevard project between Overton Road and Tangerine Road was named the 2021 Project of the Year winner by the Arizona Chapter of US Public Works.
Finally, the City received three national awards from the Government Finance Officers Association. The City received the Certificate of Excellence for Excellence in Financial Reporting; the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award; and the Outstanding Achievement Award in the Popular Annual Financial Category
Winfield boasted that the Oro Valley government hasn’t missed a beat during the pandemic and that population growth is boosting public works, infrastructure, parks and recreation
“Oro Valley is a special place where residents, businesses and government officials have worked together to strengthen our city during the worst public health crisis of our lives,” said Winfield. “And for that, I am very grateful.”