APHZAB and APNA Meetings

The meeting was scheduled as a general member meeting of our neighborhood association but became two meetings in one. Jack McLain’s departure from the Historic Zone Advisory Board created a vacancy which board chair Bill Duffy wished to fill. Giovanna Hesley was nominated to fill the vacancy and the assembled AP residents elected her to be recommended to replace Jack. Bill thanked Jack for his excellent service as a board member and chair. John Burr was nominated to fill a special expertise position on the board based on his experience and education in historic architecture. He was also elected without dissent.

The APNA meeting opened with a presentation by the group which has been studying the Armory Park, namesake for our neighborhood. They have been collecting information which will allow the park to be closer to its historic roots while best meeting community needs. That is a significant challenge. It is used as the gathering point for many large events, most recently the Women’s March and the March for Science. The senior center now sitting where the armory once stood, occupies a large part of the park’s east side. These functions are important to the community and should not be lost. The military origin of the park and the military memorials placed there over the years are important parts of the park’s history and should continue to be honored.

The park earlier had many more trees which have been lost over the years. As they died or were removed, replacements were not planted. A 1948 overhead photo showed very little unshaded grass unlike the open expanse of today. The traditionally styled band shell had become cosmetically deteriorated and was removed. It was replaced by a modern bandstand in a different location.

When a digital copy of the report is available, it will be posted on the ArmoryParkTucson.org website and I will write further articles here about the park’s history and future.

Anne Cooper reported that there were nine homes planned for the upcoming tour and that several of them are particularly noteworthy. She is looking for a few more to bring the total to 13 – 14.

DeeDee and Michael Means have cleaned up five of our roundabouts.  They removed weeds and dead plants. Trees and shrubs were trimmed to more attractive shapes. This complements the cleanup work along our major avenues led by Martha McClements. DeeDee is organizing an upcoming event of socializing on the many porches which are such attractive features of our community. She is looking for help to get this going.

There was discussion of the problems created by commercial truck traffic passing through the community. It is not practical to enforce the 26′ limit as posted on signs and many trucks are 24′ long. Approaching the companies associated with the trucks may be the most promising avenue.

Plans for development of the vacant lot at 5 Points are still moving along. It seems likely that the property will become an HPAD (see glossary), leaving our historic zone but retaining some historic restrictions. The biggest issue is still the overall height allowed for a proposed building. The stakeholders are continuing to meet and hope to have agreement before the formal review process goes further. As economic values of area properties increase, there will probably be growing pressure to remove properties from historic zones.

David Bachman-Williams will be performing the board secretary’s duties going forward.

 

Board Meeting, 14 March

This meeting was informative on a number of subjects. The kickoff was a presentation on historic landscape of the Armory Park (the park, not the neighborhood) and children’s museum (former Carnegie library). This is a research project leading to a preservation plan. The researchers are seeking community input on improvements and restoration of both spaces. Board discussion centered on keeping open space, preventing changes detracting from AP’s historic character, documenting the history of both spaces and addressing parking issues related to events in the park. Armory Park is the city’s signature park; there are many well attended events staged there so parking is often a problem. More parking lots are not the best solution. Encouraging event sponsors to publish available parking options and connecting public transit could make life easier for event attendees and nearby residents. John Burr, Mark Crum and Martha McClements agreed to accept neighborhood input. Please contact any of them with your thoughts. The presenters will return for the April board meeting. Continue reading “Board Meeting, 14 March”

Mistakes Can Be Expensive

At the December meeting, the historic board considered a case where the contractor mistakenly built a structure three feet taller than approved. The property under discussion over-height-garage-1is the large guesthouse still under construction behind 741 S 4th Avenue. Because the structure was built so tall, it loomed over Railroad Avenue and appeared much taller than any building nearby. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture before the garage roof was lowered but you can see what it looks like today. The three feet it was lowered gives a normal appearance to the garage and makes it similar in height to other structures nearby. Continue reading “Mistakes Can Be Expensive”

Lots of Action at Board Meeting

The 14 February APNA board meeting was well attended and the agenda was a full one. You can see the agenda, financial report and minutes on the board website at ArmoryParkTucson.org.

Since I am now managing the APNA website, the board’s adoption of my proposals was most interesting to me. It’s now clear that the site is the voice of the board and those it chooses to allow. It is targeted at Armory Park residents and stakeholders; others who may access it are incidental. In the interest of simplicity and easier management, rehosting the site was approved. The board and its designees will provide content. For those few who want to see the details of the email I sent board members, click here: meeting-20170214 Continue reading “Lots of Action at Board Meeting”

Falling Off the Turnip Truck

I fell off the proverbial turnip truck shortly after I purchased property in Armory Park almost ten years ago.

I arrived in the neighborhood full of hope and vision. I was thrilled to have found such a lovely neighborhood in which I could establish my business. As I looked at the property that used to house Central Alarm, I began to see ways to make it more homey and welcoming–especially with natural light through windows.

Living on 4 acres in west Tucson at the time, I was used to doing whatever I wanted and when I wanted on my property…without having to consult anybody. My independent streak was also rooted in the soil of my home state, Wyoming–true cowboy country with lots of open prairie and very few people. Its history includes being the first state to give women the vote. Continue reading “Falling Off the Turnip Truck”

Local Hotel Gets Published

Bill Duffy spotted an article in Arizona Highways highlighting our very own Downtown Clifton Hotel. If you want to see their piece, go to https://www.arizonahighways.com/eat-sleep/lodging/downtown-clifton. They also have their own website at http://downtowntucsonhotel.com/. It is a small place with classic decor elements and modowntown-cliftondern amenities.

They have plans to add rooms on the vacant lot immediately south of the hotel. The presentation made to the APNA board by co-owner Moniqua Lane made her project sound like a great addition to the community. I plan to do an article on the project when it gets a little further along.

If you have out of town visitors needing lodging, consider our AP hotel, the Downtown Clifton.

We Love Armory Park

Last night Donna and I joined a large number of our AP neighbors at another wonderful annual Armory Park holiday party. As usual APNA furnished the beverages plus the main menu items of turkey and ham. The neighbors brought snacks, side dishes and desserts. We sat at a table on the side porch and enjoyed stimulating conversation while savoring the meal. The conversation covered many subject but finally got around to discussing what we could do to improve and maintain the appearance of our public areas, streets and sidewalks. Continue reading “We Love Armory Park”

Unexpected Controversy?

My announced intention to cover neighborhood meetings (APNA & APHZAB) may have stirred up a controversy — or maybe not. I feel strongly that a community is strengthened by more communications, not less. So I was somewhat surprised by Jack’s post on the listserv which may represent a controversy — or it could be a  misunderstanding. I feel that Jack and I are both trying to preserve the character of our neighborhood and to improve it whenever we can. This is his post. Continue reading “Unexpected Controversy?”

Why do we care about WU HPZ rezoning?

I have recently attended two meetings where rezoning and removal of a property from the West University Historic Preservation Zone were discussed. You want to know why you should care about that; I will explain shortly.

The property in question is the Trinity Presbyterian Church on the corner of 4th Avenue and University Blvd. The first meeting was an informal presentation to neighborhood residents about the property. The second, earlier this week, was a formal city hearing about the rezoning and HPZ withdrawal. This was the more important one. Continue reading “Why do we care about WU HPZ rezoning?”