December’s Armory Park Neighborhood Association meeting was relatively short and somewhat sweet. Gathered in the well-lit ramparts of the St. Andrew’s Church, we touched on raucous apartment complexes, frequent train whistles, shifting traffic, and a successful home tour.

Specifically, we hashed over stubborn problems at the Bel Air apartments, 435 E. 18th Street. Highlights include suspected narcotics activity, and domestic disputes that often result in a hefty police response.

The Bel Air is privately owned public housing, under contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This particular HUD program offers the City of Tucson very little leverage over Bel Air’s management. Our ongoing frustration with the arrangement led us to request assistance from Congressman Raul Grijalva. The congressman’s office has since committed to investigating our concerns at the federal level. A big thanks goes out to the congressman and his hard-working crew.

The APNA board also discussed options for reducing train whistle noise along the increasingly busy rails flanking the neighborhood’s east side. Board members endorsed contacting city officials, to discuss the option of installing wayside horns. These radio-controlled devices are mounted at each crossing, whistling only as a train approaches. In theory, they’d eliminate the need for the often-continuous whistle-blowing from 16th and 22nd Streets.

We favored this as among the least expensive options for reducing train noise. In the week since our discussion, however, other neighbors have questioned whether wayside whistles would truly result in less noise. And so the debate continues…

This also marked the last meeting of John Burr’s term as APNA president. John worked his rear-end off as president, attending a nauseating number of city meetings on behalf of the neighborhood. Thanks John!

Replacing John this year will be Grant Wille, a current board member and recent law school graduate. New board members will include Marty Esparza and Nathan Wade. Welcome aboard!

The board also pegged the funds raised with this year’s home tour, after expenses, at about $1,800. That money will fund the excellent Neighbors Feeding Neighbors program, headquartered at St. Andrew’s. Through Neighbors Feeding Neighbors, volunteers distribute daily meals to an average of 20 elderly and disabled folks in the downtown area.

A big thanks goes out to all the neighbors who volunteered to make this year’s tour a great success. Some of those volunteers, including Joy Swatez and Alice Dance, even did double-duty by helping with the splendid APNA Christmas Party, held once again in the lovely home of hostess par excellence, Margit Ritchie.

Another huge gracias goes to everyone who makes the Armory Park Neighborhood a special place to be. Best wishes for the holidays!

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