River Park looking for maintenance money - Tucson News Now

River Park looking for maintenance money

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One of the things which makes Tucson's River Park popular is its neatness. One of the things which makes Tucson's River Park popular is its neatness.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County's River Park is fast becoming a very popular attraction.

Tourists routinely call about it and have started showing up to hike or bike it.

3,400 Tucsonans use it every weekend to walk the dog, ride the bike, jog or just sit on the edge of the river to convene with nature.

The park has expanded from 32 miles in 2008 to 94 miles today and will, at some point, extend for 214 miles all around the valley.

With its increased popularity and size, the one thing which has not increased proportionately is its maintenance budget.

That's a festering problem.

One of the things which makes it popular is its neatness.

The trees have been trimmed, the bathrooms cleaned and the water fountains working on a limited budget.

The pavement is smooth, no potholes. Who'd want to run into one zipping along the park on a high speed bike.

"We can probably accommodate some of the River Park costs in our existing budget," said  Chairs Cawein, county parks director.

But he added, "We would need to end up cutting about a million and a half dollars next fiscal year."

And to do that "we'd probably have to shut down some of our facilities or reduce some of our programs," Cawein said.

Cawein sent a letter to the county administrator Chuck Huckelberry with some suggestions, none of them attractive.

  • Closing Brandi Fenton Park to the general public.
  • Reducing the hours of operation for the NW YMCA swimming pool.
  • Terminating the contract and closing the Mike Jacob Sportspark.

So Huckelberry has recommended the county flood control district use part of it's "property tax rate increase to river park maintenance."

In the preliminary 2014-2015 budget, passed by the county board 4-1, that was approved.

But final passage is still a couple of weeks away.

"Flood control has been very, very willing to accommodate us," Cawein said. "We just want to make sure."

It would probably take about 3 cents of the tax increase to adequately fund the maintenance to make sure the park stays in good shape. 

The River Park is, far and away, the most used county park in the system.

It will take a few dollars to insure it stays that way.

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