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Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield 

Oro Valley Mayor Joe Winfield highlighted numerous Town improvements accomplished over the last year during the 20th annual State of the Town Address at El Conquistador Tucson Hilton Resort on Thursday, Oct 28.

Winfield stood in front of more than 650 attendees to express gratitude to Town staff for responding to hardships caused by the pandemic. He said most departments managed to create innovative solutions that will stay in operation for the future.

“I always say we are successful because we have a town council, town staff and the Chamber of Commerce, who are dedicated to supporting local businesses,” Winfield said.

With money provided by the federal CARES Act, the OV Safe Steps program was established through a partnership between the Town and the Chamber of Commerce.

The program distributed $1 million in aid to 200 local businesses.

“The program resulted in a robust database of nearly 600 local businesses that allows for faster and more direct communication with them,” Winfield said. “These efforts led to a new culture of respect between business and local government.”

The Parks and Recreation Department had their own ideas for innovation. They created a new online program for people to reserve recreation space in accordance with COVID safety procedures. Winfield said the program was a success among park visitors and parks staff will continue to manage reservations with it. Winfield was particularly proud of the department and its plans for the future.

Fittingly set against the backdrop of the Catalina Mountains, Winfield also expressed excitement over the newest beautification projects in Oro Valley.

The Oro Valley Town Council approved the new Parks and Recreation Master Plan last year, which became a guiding document for the Town’s recreational goals. The plan identified multiple improvements requested by the community and the town approved a bond package to pay for them.

“Council has recently approved expanded use of the half-cent sales tax, as well as a $25 million low-interest bond financing for park improvements and maintenance,” Winfield said. 

Winfield turned the audience’s attention to a video of Oro Valley Parks and Recreation Director Kristy Diaz-Trahan for a quick explanation. Diaz-Trahan was videotaped in front of Naranja Park to visualize how the park will change over the next few years. She said the park will have a new splash pad, sports fields, pickleball courts, basketball courts, a skate park and BMX space.

The bond will also support creating a 40% increase in parking for Naranja Park and new connections to the Town’s walking trail systems. 

Winfield said another major accomplishment for Parks and Recreation this year was the installation of a new ADA-accessible playground at Naranja Park.

“Folks, playgrounds these days are much cooler than when we were kids,” he said. “I’ll let you in on the secret, at the ribbon-cutting Council decided we should probably test out the equipment to make sure it’s safe.”

Park playgrounds aren’t the only areas where Oro Valley residents had fun this year. Oro Valley’s Town-owned golf courses saw an increase in revenue.

In May 2020, the Town drew up a new agreement with Indigo Golf Partners to manage the Town’s golf courses. Winfield said the 36-hole El Conquistador golf course had a 16% membership increase and a 46% public play increase this year. Winfield attributed this success to Indigo’s additional tee times, renewed public interest in the outdoors, and the new El Conquistador Golf mobile app. Additionally, the 9-hole Pusch Ridge golf course was scheduled to open this week, on Monday, Nov 1.

Public works got a makeover this last year through the repavement of Oracle Road from Magee to Calle Concordia.

“I’m seeing a lot more smiles down Oracle Road,” Winfield said.

A partnership with the Arizona Department of Transportation made this project possible and Winfield said ADOT will repave the remaining section of Oracle Road from Calle Concordia to Tangerine Road sometime next year.

Moreover, Oracle was treated particularly well this past year with the Mayor’s Keep Oro Valley Beautiful campaign. Winfield said he worked with Town staff to organize a volunteer pick-up event on Oracle from Suffolk Drive to Rancho Vistoso Blvd. More than 200 volunteers filled 200 large bags of litter.

“I wanted to create an opportunity where groups could come together on a selected day to make a difference in the community,” Winfield said.

The Town improvements have been recognized by multiple awards this year.

The Town’s planning division was awarded the Arizona Planning Association Public Outreach 2020 award for its work producing information videos and holding public Zoom meetings on the Town’s General Plan Amendment.

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 the American Public Works Association.

Lastly, the Town was awarded three national awards from the Government Finance Officers Association. The Town received the Certificate of Achievement Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting; the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award; and the Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting.

Winfield boasted that Oro Valley government did not miss a beat during the pandemic and population growth is driving public works, infrastructure, and parks and recreational improvements.

“Oro Valley is a special place where residents, businesses, and public servants have worked together to strengthen our town during the worst public health crisis in our lifetimes,” Winfield said. “And for that, I am most grateful.”