Armory Park Commentary & History

This HOME page is what this site is about: commentary and other articles about our wonderful community and the surrounding area. History and historic preservation will be emphasized. The other pages supplement the HOME page. Along the right margin are tools that let you choose from recent posts or comments, search for posts, view past posts by month and list posts by subject category. You can also click on the FOLLOW AROUND ARMORY PARK button to be notified by emails of new posts. On the left you can see  the category of each article or click to leave a comment.

Thefts: On Our Own?

Those of you who follow our listserv know that Armory Park has had a recent rash of thefts and home break-ins. The problem became even more visible at a general meeting of the Armory Park Neighborhood Association. The meeting was attended by a standing-room-only crowd of our neighbors. Neighbor concerns were addressed by representatives of the Tucson Police Department and Community Bridges Incorporated.

Meeting observations – Feedback from TPD was not encouraging. The usual comments about the limited number of officers and limited funding were delivered. Since the TPD districts were reorganized a few years ago, Armory Park is now part of the Operations Division West located on Miracle Mile. We are no longer a part of the Downtown District. The south boundary is 22nd Street. To see a map of the division, click here: TPD Ops Div West (PDF).

Next, we were told that property crimes were down in Armory Park though it was acknowledged that our actual recent experiences were not consistent with that data. I looked on the TPD crime statistics on the department’s web page and found a contradictory story of recent crimes. A search for the last month disclosed 37 crime reports related to property thefts and possible violence. Of these, ten were breaking and entering. The others were various thefts, assaults and disorders. If you want to see the data I extracted, click here: Armory Park Crimes (PDF).

We were also given the usual tips on home security: locking doors & windows, lighting, bars on windows, radio or TV on, etc. Some have already done many of these things or more. As things stand, these steps will only cause the thieves to move on to your neighbors. Even the somewhat impaired thieves are capable of some rational judgement; if there is a benefit from stealing and there is no risk, why not do it. Even if we have reported crimes, there has been little or no police response. From my own observation and the experiences of neighbors, there is no meaningful investigation happening after the crime. If there is no downside for the criminals, crimes will continue.

Several officers attended the meeting and the presentation was made by a sergeant. He promised to pass our concerns up his chain of command but as leader of one out of ten squads in the division, he can only take direct actions with his subordinates. This did not make me confident that there would be any effective action. Several neighbors told their stories of criminal activity for him to pass along.

On a different but related subject, two representatives from CBI answered neighbors’ complaints about their clients who behave badly and degrade the quality of life in the northeast corner of our neighborhood. Their clients who often have substance abuse or mental health issues are brought to the CBI facility from all over the city. CBI cannot detain those who decline referral for help and wish to leave. This turns them loose at that corner of Armory Park. In the past, they have declined to adopt security measures requested by neighbors and months after being requested to improve exterior lighting at their facility, announced that the lighting is now installed. The APNA board has had discussions with CBI staff over time but my reading is that the outcomes do not satisfy our affected neighbors and have not been well communicated to our residents. The website and listserv should be used to keep residents informed on issues of concern and to encourage feedback to the board. Armory Park has many empathetic residents who value the humanitarian services of organizations like CBI. I do also, but they cannot be allowed to operate at an unreasonable cost to their neighbors.

In this regard, Michael Lex posted a useful bit of information on the listserv. He wrote, “I didn’t attend last evening’s meeting but a thought came to me while discussing the situation with a neighbor this morning. Long-time residents may recall the free food kitchen at 6th Avenue and 18th operated by Episcopal Services as St Martin’s in the early 1980s. The increase in transient foot traffic through the neighborhood and the attendant increase in crime resulted in APNA obtaining a Restraining Order, which was ultimately upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court in Armory Park v Episcopal Community Services, 148 Ariz 1 (1985). The case permits organizations such as APNA to seek redress from not-for profit entities upon proof of the creation of a public nuisance. If the suspected not-for-profit originator of the recent neighborhood crime wave can be factually tied to it, there is a legal means by which it (they?) can be enjoined.” Thanks, Michael, for the useful information.

Encouraging Signs –  Recent posts on the listserv have described a much more active response by TPD to crimes over the last few days. I won’t call this a trend until is has persisted for some time but it may improve my pessimistic view of our future. It illustrates the truth of the old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” It doesn’t, however, change the basic calculation; until some of the thieves are caught and punished, they will just victimize another neighborhood. Is that what we should hope for?.

If you want to comment on any of this (agree, disagree, add on) please use the comment feature shown at the left of the article. I will respond and others may too. 


Who Should Speak for Arizona?

Donna and I are news junkies so I thought there was little chance for surprise in Arizona politics. I was wrong.

It is no surprise that the three Republican candidates to replace Jeff Flake are competing with each other for the title of most supportive of Donald Trump. Former Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio is well known for his extremist views and gratitude for being pardoned for his criminal conviction. Kelli Ward is also well known for her far right positions but I previously did not know how she was associated with racists and conspiracy theorists.

Kevin Robillard’s article in the Huffington Post filled this gap in my knowledge. You can read the complete article by following this link:

Kevin’s article gives a few examples but here is one that caught my attention: “But it’s her final stop of the day that has drawn condemnation and questions: She’s set to appear at the Pioneer Museum in Phoenix with the “alt-right” provocateur Mike Cernovich, who is best known for promoting the entirely false Pizzagate conspiracy theory.” You may recall that his bogus statements contributed to the violence at a pizza restaurant, making claims with no foundation. The article outlines Ms. Ward’s relationship with four other outspoken alt-right individuals who have often aired racist views.

All three of the republican candidates are too far right for me but I have to speak out about those who are spreading racist hate speech. Read the article and decide for yourself whether you want someone associated with extremist and racist figures speaking for Arizonans in Washington.

New Listserv

Last night’s APNA board meeting resulted in a decision which will be of interest to many in Armory Park. Deborah Oslik reported on the work of a study group she headed looking into alternatives to Yahoo for our neighborhood listserv. They experimented with alternatives and she learned the experiences of some others who had left Yahoo. Her conclusion was that while no solution will be perfect for everyone, Google Groups is the best available option. All who made the change considered the Google option superior. It works similarly to Yahoo Groups but is more reliable and is getting technical attention from Google staff. Yahoo Groups now seems to be an orphan and may not continue for long. The board passed a motion to begin the transition immediately to be concluded by 15 September.

Soon you will receive an email from Google with instructions for joining our Google group. Those with a Gmail account will have access to additional services but a Gmail account is not essential. I do recommend it, especially if you want to get listserv postings in a daily digest rather than as individual emails. Phyllis and Tod will continue as moderators and Deborah will assist in the transition.  You will get a reminder email each week until September 15th. After that date, the old listserv will be closed.

I’m sure that the new listserv will not be entirely problem free. There is such a complex combination of email clients, browsers, operating systems and more that it is a miracle that any of this works. Still, I am confident that this change was the best solution available.

Social note: An ice cream social is tentatively planned for 30 September at the St Andrew’s parish hall. Watch the listserv and websites for details.

Personal Note: Among the reasons I am changing the emphasis of this website to history and commentary is that my hearing has declined to the point where it is not possible for me to take the detailed notes of the meetings’ proceedings needed to craft accurate and complete reports. Last night demonstrated that once again.

History Quest

I have mentioned before that I will put more emphasis on community history in these pages. At that time I didn’t realize what a challenge that would be. Nevertheless, I am pressing forward with the effort to find photos and narratives related to the early days of Armory Park and nearby areas. The broader your areas of research, the more likely you are to find plentiful useful material. When you focus on a small local area, the resources are limited and hard to find. What is available is more likely to be oriented to individuals rather than places or buildings. Famous buildings are more promising for searching but there are few such in Armory Park. Still, with all of the interest in genealogy, people centered material can be useful if you have names to key into your search.

So, my current efforts center on learning how to do local history research and to find helpful resources. I am becoming familiar with local libraries, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, old insurance maps and genealogy websites. The LDS church not only has such a site, it also has two research centers in Tucson. I haven’t gone there yet but will soon.

I expect that there are others in the neighborhood with an interest in local history. If you have a house about whose history you would like to learn more, perhaps we can IMG_2450bcollaborate. If you have names of early day residents, that would be most helpful. I have already learned that my house existed in 1901 and was not built in 1905 as I previously thought. Others have lived in Armory Park for many years and maybe for generations. If you are one of these people, please share your stories with me and the community.

Another thing I have already learned is that local history research requires time and patience. Both of these were lacking in my earlier days but now I am fortunately well supplied with both. I’ll try to put those qualities to good use.

Focus Changed

I have been giving serious thought to what direction I should take with this site. Community circumstances and my focus have changed somewhat. In the former category, Bill Duffy has taken over the APNA website so you can find most neighborhood news there. Reporting those items here would be redundant though I will still write commentaries on community events when my views might add something to the discussion.

Also, the process of historic preservation has become a larger part of my community activities. The new leadership of  our historic board (APHZAB) has been working hard to improve the visibility and administration of the historic review process. Chair Martha McClements and Secretary Michael Means have made significant improvements in both of these areas. Digital presentation of project packages has made meetings go more smoothly and has given board members better information on which to base their often difficult decisions. I have been providing information technology support to the board.

The key decisions on board recommendations for projects can be found on the city website at https://www.tucsonaz.gov/clerks/boards?board=9. The Legal Action Reports (LARs) are the official records of the board’s decisions and are available in the week of the meeting. For me to report on these decisions would be redundant and might introduce an error from my interpretation. When the decisions or other APHZAB happenings merit further community discussion, I may make my views known in a commentary. To be clear, I am not a member of the board so my views are those of an Armory Park resident and property owner. Though I attend board meetings, I don’t offer comments during a review. My role is merely to support the board and its officers in their important work.

I also manage a website (HistoricTucson.org) dedicated to historic preservation in Tucson’s five Historic Preservation Zones. I hope it will evolve over time to support all HPZs but right now only Armory Park is specifically covered. You can find information there to help you though the historic review process. If you have a project in mind, go the the My Project page on that site.

I do hope to find more material for articles on the history of Armory Park and the surrounding areas. Early Latino residents and later railroad people laid down the foundation of the neighborhood us latecomers now enjoy. If any of you have historic material or research leads, please share them with me. A better understanding of our history will make this a stronger community. Also, I will appreciate any suggestions for interesting subjects.

Thanks for your patience as my focus and this blog evolve.

Trouble in Barrio Historico

Those who have been following the challenge of intrusive development in historic zones should not be surprised to learn that the problem is not confined to Armory Park. Our neighbors to the west in Barrio Historico are having the same sort of problem with a townhouse development. Their historic board has published the following pamphlet seeking support for their effort to fight the development. Since many in our neighborhood have had difficulty viewing the pamphlet, I am reproducing it here. The print is small but I hope you can read it.

Continue reading “Trouble in Barrio Historico”

Interesting Armory Park Statistics

Betts Putnam-Hidalgo left a comment regarding a recent article asking if the percentage of renters in Armory Park was really greater than of owner occupants. The answer is yes as I interpret this chart from City-Data.com. The statistics in this article are interesting to me but you can find even more on that site.

Owners and renters by unit type (%)

Continue reading “Interesting Armory Park Statistics”

Good News, Bad News at Zoning Hearing

So I can move to a more positive note, I’ll begin this piece with the bad news. Perhaps the worst is that before this hearing and as it progressed, I had the feeling that this rezoning is a done deal. There are several steps ahead but it is hard not to feel that the outcome is already determined.

Continue reading “Good News, Bad News at Zoning Hearing”

Tension at APHZAB

Immediately after the normal opening routine, the regular April Historic Advisory Board meeting took a dramatic turn. Board Chair Martha McClements read into the record a written complaint sent to city government by Brian Kassel regarding John Burr. He claimed that John was biased against him because of some unexplained animosity. She further read her reaction to the complaint stating that she had great respect for John’s knowledge and integrity and intended to take no action on the complaint. John stated that he would not vote on Brian’s project but would participate in discussions as he deemed appropriate. There was further discussion from the board which supported the Chair’s decision. Remarks by Brian did nothing to clarify the situation but his perception may have been influenced by John’s attempts to point out some issues which may cause problems for the project if not addressed until a later date.

Continue reading “Tension at APHZAB”