Residents of 'forgotten barrio' worry improvements may force the - Tucson News Now

Residents of 'forgotten barrio' worry improvements may force them from homes

Caught in the middle, Barrio Sin Nombre (Source: Tucson News Now) Caught in the middle, Barrio Sin Nombre (Source: Tucson News Now)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Tucson City Council approved a spending package of $1.2 million for improvements in a tiny neighborhood at the base of A-Mountain, Barrio Sin Nombre.

The Barrio, which houses a few dozen families, many of whom have lived there for generations, has sometimes been referred to as the forgotten barrio.

A few years ago, city leaders urged the neighborhood to change it's name to Barrio Augustine, which some considered a more appropriate name rather than a "barrio without a name."

"It's still Barrio Sin Nombre," said Lorraine Bartlett, who has lived in the neighborhood for 65 years in a house that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Bartlett has been an activist for the neighborhood, seeking improvements over the years including sidewalks, street lights, and protection against flooding, but little has ever happened until now.

"I think they need to beautify this for the corporate offices," she said.

Sitting on her porch, one can see giant earth movers and large trucks carrying out what will be 20,000 truckloads of landfill to make way for the new Caterpillar Corporate headquarters being built across the street.

"The people who live here are not big corporate people," she said. "They're everyday people, mom, dad, grandmas and grandpas."

There may be some good and some bad with the coming gentrification of the neighborhood, but it's still a question mark.

"Maybe they mean good, I'm just waiting to see," she said. "I don't believe anything until I see it."

One good thing may be the mitigation of the landfill that sat across the street for decades, at a time when the area was little more than a place for the city to dump its trash.

"We saw what was put in there," Bartlett said. "The smell was so bad."

But others say they worry about property values going up and with it a property tax increase.

"How do we pay that," a lady named Maria asked.

While she's happy for improvements, the price may be too high she believes.

"I hate it," another neighbor, Isabel said. "All the noise, it's awful."

Barrio Sin Nombre got caught in the Rio Nuevo controversy a decade ago when the district promised $4.2 million in improvements, including the mitigation of flooding every time it rained.

Those promises were never kept, because the neighborhood was outside the Rio Nuevo boundary. It was used by the state legislature as an example of district waste and a reason why control was taken away from the city.

The district is still smarting from those promises, which were never realized, but maybe this will be different.

"I'll believe it when I see it," says Bartlett.

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