The Vail Preservation Society (VPS) has expressed grave concerns and strong opposition regarding the approximately 2,160 acre H2K November 2022 industrial rezoning, its PAD, and the July 2023 initiation of the annexation process for the CODY, GABRIEL and JAY parcels by the city of Tucson to add to the H2K. And, the proposed RTA NEXT Draft list item #1 Colossal Cave Road.
Planned business and industrial growth that will impact the health of Vail’s children and actual residents is not acceptable and does not promote quality of life or economic vitality. The long term health impacts very likely far outweigh any short term gain for Tucson’s economy. And, certainly when the economic gain is for an adjacent city, in this case Tucson, the actions and plans are predatory.
A transportation project conceived and promoted (by whom?) that will at the very least severely impact, if not demolish, Vail’s sole remaining historic, and National Register-listed buildings and erase the last remnant of historic fabric and Vail’s Mexican American heritage of this 143-year-old community, in part, to facilitate the increased traffic associated with Tucson’s H2K industrial development and annexations, is disrespectful and predatory.
What studies have been completed or are planned to investigate health and safety impacts to children and staff at Acacia Elementary and other nearby Vail residents related to the planned industrial use of the H2K industrial development and CODY and GABRIEL annexations?
VPS asks for real and meaningful outreach to the population that will be most impacted – Vail residents. VPS requests Tucson City Council Listening Sessions, at least six, be set up and conducted in Vail. The 400’ notification for property owners, and one mile for HOAs, gave VPS and few residents who will live with the impacts notice. This may be legal, but it is not respectful or morally defensible to those whose children, will very likely be living with the environmental impacts of an industrial user who will bring Tucson millions in tax revenue.
The Sonoran Conservation Plan identifies the importance of the Julian Wash Tributary and the Franco Wash Tributary – VPS requests on-site mitigation that preserves the actual, native desert landscape, not a recreated landscape as outlined in the PAD. The Julian Wash Tributary and Franco Wash Tributary, are two washes that provide water and habitat for wildlife and for wildlife in transit between the Cienega Creek Preserve and Santa Rita Mountains.
Critical Landscape Wildlife Connection: the Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Lands System map identifies the eastern area of H2K as a Critical Landscape Connection (CLS) for wildlife migrating annually between Cienega Creek Preserve and the Santa Rita Mountains. Adherence to Conservation Lands System Guidelines will protect against the loss of conservation values and landscape integrity through in-place preservation of resources.
Will Tucson and its future industrial user adhere to the guidelines?
Will Arizona State Land Department ensure that the guidelines are followed?
Vail is listed in the Sonoran Conservation Plan as one of Pima County’s ten historic communities (County, 2007). Colossal Cave Road was built by the Helvetia Mining Company in 1899 to transport ore to Vail for shipment. Multiple cultural resource surveys have stated that the road itself has significance and that this needs to be followed up on. This investigation needs to happen.
Colossal Cave Road passes through a virtually unchanged ranching rural landscape that will be impacted by the H2K PAD as the road makes its way to Vail’s historic town site, just one mile north of Interstate 10.
1908 Old Vail Post Office and 1935 Shrine of Santa Rita in the Desert. The new RTA Colossal Cave Road project will result in severe impacts and likely the loss/demolition of Vail’s only remaining historic buildings. These buildings also represent Vail’s Mexican American heritage and legacy.
Impact on heritage tourism plans for Arizona Historic Roadway Highway 80. Old Vail Road at Vail’s original town site is a section of Hwy. 80s original alignment and portions of the Benson Hwy. to the south are Historic Hwy 80’s second alignment. This historic roadway will have the same impact on Vail’s heritage and economics in the coming years as Route 66, but will be negated by Tucson’s plans in their present form.
Arizona State Parks Heritage Fund grant for 249k approved to VPS for 1908 Old Vail Post Office rehabilitation. Tucson and RTA plans endanger our State’s investment.
Require that buildings or structures over 60’ have setbacks that protect and comply with Scenic Corridor Overlay Zone and that protect the viewshed. (Tucson approved zoning buildings could be 125’ and structures up to 200’.
The 2014 Vail Historic Preservation Plan, completed with the University of Arizona and National Park Service (NPS), outlines strategies that include Vail’s historic elements in long term economic strategies. Current plans will negatively impact these plans. Remember Tucson, the business(es) you have lined up to develop H2K and proposed CODY annexation will want to attract and retain a skilled and invested workforce. Workforce retention will be enhanced by retaining the historic fabric of the area, and to being sensitive to environmental impacts on their children who may attend Acacia Elementary.
Donovan Rypkema of Place Economics said it well: “Nearly one-in-two (44 percent) of millennials prefer living in a neighborhood with historic character. A community without memory is a meaningless place. Historic resources are the physical manifestation of memory. Today quality of life is essential for a competitive community. The long-term quality and character of a community is directly related to its willingness to identify, protect, and enhance those places that define and differentiate it. Historic preservation is not about being the museums of yesterday; historic preservation is about using heritage resources to build quality of life for tomorrow.” – Measuring the Economics of Preservation
To learn more or to lend your support, send an email to the Vail Preservation Society.