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.

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.

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Baffert Headlines APNA Agenda

The most important subject for the meeting was the Baffert Project at 6th Avenue and 18th Street. Both APNA and APHZAB (historic board) have sent letters to the zoning examiner for entry into the record of the hearing to happen at the Mayor & CouncilIMG_2607chambers Thursday (12 April) at 6:00 PM. Both boards will also make presentation of their concerns at the hearing. Neither board is pleased with the proposed building height of 48 feet, much taller than any structure nearby. However, the most important issue is retaining the property in the historic zone so that the APHZAB will have some voice in how the project proceeds and to avoid a newprecedent which could destroy our Historic Preservation Zone and others. The board asked for maximum resident attendance at the hearing to show that the community was very concerned about developments. There was consensus that if this rezoning is approved, there will be a succession of such actions going north along 6th Avenue (Wanslee Motors, Philbaum Gallery, Roy’s Market and more). Imagine what 6th Avenue will look like lined with buildings 48 feet tall or taller. The most public face of Armory Park will be disfigured and the western part isolated from the rest. Continue reading “Baffert Headlines APNA Agenda”

APHZAB View of Baffert Rezoning


Both our neighborhood association and our historic board are actively engaged with the city and developer regarding the proposed Baffert project. I published my views on the subject a few days ago. Since then, the APHZAB has submitted the following letter to the zoning examiner to be entered into the record of the rezoning case. I am not optimistic that neighborhood opposition to the project’s shortcomings will prevail over the economic and political pressure, however, if we do nothing, a bad outcome is certain. Both of our neighborhood organizations are working hard to defend our community’s historic character and they need your visible support. 

The hearing will be held on April 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM in Mayor and Council Chambers, first floor, east side of City Hall, If you care about preserving the historic character of Armory Park, you should attend. 

Note: This hearing has been postponed to May 3rd at the same time and place.

Continue reading “APHZAB View of Baffert Rezoning”