AT APRIL AP MEETING, PARKING, PARTIES AND A SILO TAKE CENTERSTAGE

The Tuesday, April 9 meeting of the Armory Park Neighborhood Association Board of Directors was mostly about catching up on old business and addressing a few neighborhood concerns.

Among those concerns, of course, was the 31-foot-high silo fronting the Thunder Canyon Brewery. It was reiterated that, contrary to the comments of some residents on the listserve, the association held quite amiable meetings with the Thunder Canyon Brewery long before its recent opening.  The Brewery also donated a keg of very swell beer for our most recent Home Tour party, which of course earns it an eternally warm spot in our hearts, if not our gullets.

Nonetheless, the silo was not mentioned by the Thunder Canyon during our earlier chats. It appears that the city pushed the process through rather rapidly and without all the precautions in place.

On another note, the “Herbert” is set for completion in the next few months. You probably know it as the onetime Armory Park Apartments, located on 12th Street between Herbert and 5th avenues. The Herbert is slated for mixed residential occupancy, with upscale studio apartments being developed by Peach Properties and the Holualoa Companies.

We also discussed ongoing problems with tractor trailers cutting through the neighborhood to access the warehouse district east of us. To say the least, this is a noisy, intractable problem, beset by city ordinances and broader laws that restrict TPD’s ability to ticket these behemoths.

A city study conducted a couple of years ago—in the depths of the recession—showed at least 10 big rigs a day traveling along 18th Street alone. That number is no doubt replicated on most streets in the southern reaches of the neighborhood and has certainly risen as the economy improves.

We have various strategies in the works, including future plans for mitigation along the streets, and working with our representative council members to affect a change in local laws. You can help by logging the number of trucks coming down your street, and providing them to us. Power is in the numbers, so to speak.

As you’ve probably noticed, the stoplight at Park Avenue and 18th Street is nearing completion. The city has pledged to redo its traffic study along 18th six months after the light goes on, and perhaps come up with more mitigation.

In the vein of intractable problems, we also discussed the potential for creating a quiet zone for the railroad between 22nd and 16th streets. As you might imagine, this is a big deal, involving the city government, a reluctant Union Pacific Railroad, and ultimately the Federal Railroad Administration. But given that rail traffic along this spur (which goes to Nogales) is set to grow exponentially, it’s a fight worth undertaking.

At last month’s meeting, suggestions offered by city transportation staffer Sam Credio ranged from closing several affected east-west streets to, well, closing several affected east-west streets.

While this would no doubt cut down on whistle blows, we believe it would create unacceptable traffic bottlenecks in the southern reaches of the neighborhood. There are many other alternatives available, but of course they all involve large sums of money.

We also discussed the Bus Riders Union, and its efforts to keep a downtown bus hub at the Ronstadt Center, despite economic pressures to develop that property. The neighborhood hasn’t yet taken a formal position on this situation. However, board member Liz Burden did mention a city feasibility study in the recent past showing that the center as it exists is the prime spot for a transit hub.

We also discussed looming parking issues in the northern part of the neighborhood due to pending increases in student and other residential parking needs in that area.

Not surprisingly, there was also a lively discussion about the recent listserve dust-up. This led to twin board pledges: One is encouraging folks to learn more about the neighborhood. The other is for the board to double-down in its efforts to keep folks informed. Hence, this post.

The upshot is that there are enormous pressures on Armory Park right now from development. It is of course already happening, but we can influence the way it happens. Either way, these changes will affect us all, including potential impacts on parking, property values and even the viability of the neighborhood.

Speaking of involvement, having a grand old time is most certainly part of the mix. That’s why we have another neighborhood party in the works, scheduled for the evening of Friday, May 3. Keep an eye out for the upcoming newsletter for details.

Stay tuned…

-Tim Vanderpool

Author: Ken Taylor

I am a relatively recent Armory Park resident (2/16) along with my wife, Donna and our little dog Lulu. Donna and I lived over 30 years in Anchorage, Alaska before moving to Arizona. We have been Arizona residents for 16 years before coming here including 12 in Green Valley and four in west Tucson. We love the neighborhood for its history, walkability and interesting residents. Lulu insists on walking every day so you may see us following her around and picking up trash to keep our neighborhood presentable.

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