Paul's Note - December 17, 2021

This will be the last time I write you a note before the Christmas holiday, so I wanted to take the time to wish all of you that celebrate a Merry Christmas and a joyful holiday season to all of you. 

2022 is only a couple of weeks away; can you believe it? 

Next year marks the end of “phase one” of the Proposition 407 Parks + Connections Bond Projects. You and your neighbors approved the bonds in 2018. Several projects in Ward 2 are scheduled for next year. 

Fort Lowell Park: A new splash pad plus long-awaited improvements to the bath house are scheduled for the fourth quarter. This will be funded both from bond money and impact fees. There is also a project to put lights on the pony league baseball field. That’s currently in design. 

Jesse Owens Park: The design work on a new splash pad is nearly complete and it is scheduled to begin construction next year. In addition to bond money, the project is funded with money from the sewer line warranty fund, impact fees and some money from my office budget. 

Morris K. Udall Park: A new splash pad is scheduled for construction in the second quarter of next year. That project is being completed with both bond money and impact fees. We are also pursuing donations to build a shade structure for the new pickleball courts. 

Palo Verde Park: After the successful conversion of tennis courts to pickleball at Udall, we will be doing that at Palo Verde Park as well. Lights at the baseball and softball fields are scheduled to be converted to LEDs, which are more efficient and have less light trespass. Impact fees will be used to pay for covering basketball courts in another project scheduled for next year. 

Robb Wash Greenway: Public input on this project is being compiled and evaluated. The size of the project is relatively small (a bit more than $50,000 in developer in-lieu fees), so we should see something on this late next year. 

Phase 2 will include projects in Harold Bell Wright Park and Villa Serena Park as well as more in the above parks. 

This came in this morning from our office of economic initiatives: 

The City of Tucson was named one of 60 finalists in the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Build Back Better Regional Challenge. More than 500 applicants from across the country competed for the Phase One funding of $500,000. 

The award is a required first step in the competition for additional funding of up to $100 million in Phase Two. The City of Tucson is the lead applicant in a regional collaboration of under-coordinated industries to create the next growth cluster to serve our arid region—sustainable agriculture, water resources, and clean energy. The Southern Arizona Coalition for Climate Adaptation and Resilience is the embodiment of Mayor Romero’s vision for a national epicenter of climate adaptability. “The White House is looking at Tucson and Southern Arizona to lead on climate and equity. This grant funding can seed our future if we think regionally,” said Mayor Romero. 

Congressman Raul Grijalva stated, "The City of Tucson is leading the way for a sustainable future. This project will create good-paying jobs for working people and help us tackle the growing threat of climate change. I am proud to support this coalition and their efforts to make our community more equitable, competitive and resilient.” 

EDA challenged applicants to create a significant regional partnership that would bring together a variety of organizations, both public and private, to identify a strategy for developing and supporting industry-sector growth unique to the region. Applicants were also required to demonstrate a commitment to equity and inclusion in their proposals. The City’s initial proposal included support from 11 coalition members, 9 municipalities, tribal governments, 22 industry partners and countless additional regional assets conclusively demonstrating that now is the time to leverage momentum, gather joint resources, and make a transformative “moonshot” to propel our regional economy, and environment, in a new direction. The proposal’s unique value proposition is in its existing collection of assets, intentional equity-based framework, and the development of a reproducible model for communities to organize around climate challenges at an international scale. 

Barbra Coffee, the city’s director of Economic Initiatives thinks this is what made the Southern Arizona Coalition proposal stand out. “We took the equity framework requirement very seriously when considering our approach,” said Coffee. “Rather than simply suggest projects that a small coalition of partners thought might be beneficial to the entire region, we decided to create a process to allow widespread community participation in the identification of and selection of the projects that will ultimately be outlined in the Phase Two proposal for funding.” 

Phase Two proposals will be due in March and must outline implementation plans for 3 to 8 projects that support the industry sector. The coalition’s proposal identified five components in which projects would be supported that have the potential to create jobs, increase wages, reduce unemployment in vulnerable communities, and attract high-growth industries. Each one of the primary coalition members will coordinate the review of project proposals from the community in the areas of: 

Research Innovation and Translational Technology: Led by the University of Arizona 

Workforce Resilience: Co-led by Pima Community College and Arizona Western College 

Entrepreneurship: Led by Startup Tucson 

Sustainable Infrastructure: Co-Led by City of Tucson and Greater Yuma Economic Development Partnership 

Seed Funding: Led by Community Investment Corporation 

Equity partners also include the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, Santa Cruz Valley Heritage Alliance, and Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area. 

“This was truly a regional collaboration,” said Startup Tucson CEO Liz Pocock. “It was amazing to see partners in our region move so quickly to come together around a shared goal in order to start this conversation. As we move forward, we plan to broaden the dialogue even more so that others currently working in these areas, or that want to work in these areas, can join the efforts and the programs can impact communities that have experienced the hardships of a pandemic and decades of disinvestment.” 

“The University of Arizona is proud to partner with the City of Tucson and other members of the coalition to support use-inspired research, development, and innovation within Southern Arizona. And as the state’s designated land grant university, we look forward to working within our community on such a timely economic development award,” said Elizabeth “Betsy” Cantwell, senior vice president of research and innovation at the University of Arizona. “Tucson is the epitome of a resilient community, and we have tremendous assets that we can leverage to bring quality jobs to Southern Arizona.” 

For more information on the Southern Arizona Coalition for Climate Adaptation & Resilience, go to and sign up to receive future notifications of meetings and important deadlines.