Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Public hears preservation plans for Oro Valley’s historic ranch

[Source: Patrick McNamara, Explorer] -- Members of the public came out to voice their opinions and concerns about historic preservation efforts at Steam Pump Ranch, Oro Valley’s territorial-era settlement. Representatives from the architectural firm Poster Frost were on hand to explain three preservation scenarios for the ranch house and 15-acre property, which dates to the 1870s. The town contracted Poster Frost, which specializes in historic preservation and renovations. The firm will seek to implement a plan for the site that the town-appointed Steam Pump Ranch Task Force develops with the public’s input. One possibility for the site, which the task force has labeled “Eras of Oro Valley History,” would include protohistory and Native American displays, Arizona territorial representations, statehood and town incorporation exhibits.

Another option for the site, dubbed “A Day in the Life,” consists of recreations circa 1944. The year was chosen because researchers believe buildings from most prior eras of the property were in place then. A third choice includes major elements from two dominant periods in the history of Steam Pump Ranch: the founding of the property in the 19th Century and the post-1933 era when the Procter family bought the ranch. A dividing line would separate original Pusch-era structures from the buildings added by the Procters, including a chicken coop the family used to raise poultry and produce eggs. All of the possibilities include variations on a visitor or orientation center that would inform visitors of the property’s history. The ultimate goal of the three options is to have the property registered with the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Registry of Historic Places. Public input on the presentations focused mainly on concerns that town officials find ways to make sure the site won’t become a drain on taxpayers. How the site will remain solvent hasn’t been determined, but a likely scenario involves renting out the space, or portions of it, for private functions like weddings and parties. The next Steam Pump Ranch public meeting is set for Jan. 10. For more information, go to the Oro Valley’s Planning Department, or call Town Planner Pamela Pelletier at 229-4813. [Photo source: Town of Oro Valley.]