Paul's Note - February 5, 2021

My office has heard a lot of concerns about the planned Reid Park Zoo expansion. The expansion was initially approved by voters in 2017 when there was a ballot issue approving a new one-tenth of one cent sales tax to fund zoo operations. That led to a management agreement between the City and the Tucson Zoological Society the following year. 

Throughout this time, there were 100 meetings and open houses to discuss the zoo’s master plan. 

Well, obviously the process wasn’t enough given the generally negative tone of the communication I’ve received. I’m not against zoo expansion per se, but there are two concerns I have. 

The zoo is a public asset, to be sure, and carving a bit of land out of Reid Park and transferring it over can be thought of as one public use just becoming another. But the fact is that a previously accessible piece of public land would be behind a wall and the public would have to pay $10.50 to use it. 

I have been hammering on this for a long time: we don’t have enough park land in Tucson. I am against taking even a sliver of it out and locking it up, as they say on the internet, behind a pay wall. 

Also, I will not support losing the hill, lower pond or the stream if they are not replaced elsewhere near by. This is an oasis in midtown Tucson. I need assurances of this from both the zoo and Parks and Recreation if they expect my support. 

The Reid Park Zoo is a remarkable amenity and I fully support and appreciate the community programs they offer. This plan, however, needs to be reconsidered. 

Tucson doesn’t have a large African American population, about 5% or so, but there is still a lot of history to celebrate as our country observes Black History Month. Throughout this month, I hope to tell you a little bit about African Americans that have contributed to our city. 

This week, I’d like to remember Morgan Maxwell Jr., who passed away last year at the age of 96. He had a lot to live up to: his father was a great educator and civil rights leader in Tucson. His work got the schools in District 1 (now TUSD) desegregated before the Brown v Board of Education Decision. 

The younger Maxwell learned about segregation in this country at an early age. He was on the Tucson High School football team when he and his teammates were not allowed to eat at Douglas’s Gadsden Hotel after a game because of the presence of black players. 

The Arizona Daily Star had a great write up of Maxwell’s life, including his leadership in civil rights and business when he passed away last August. They don’t note one thing he did as a young man: he challenged segregation at the University of Arizona’s Student Union. Back in 1947, he walked into a dining hall with two friends (they happened to be Mo and Stewart Udall) and demanded to be served. The administration had to relent. 

Thank you for your life and contribution, Morgan. 

Remember that as of the beginning of this month, Environmental Services is no longer doing curbside collection of glass. Instead of recycling, we are re-using the glass for things like roads and fill. You can drop off glass at a number of locations around the city including Udall Park (7200 E Tanque Verde), Fort Lowell Park (2998 N. Craycroft Rd.) and here at the Ward 2 Office (7575 E. Speedway). For more details on dropoffs and the changes in the program, click here