Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Oro Valley's Steam Pump Ranch panel agrees on restoration plan

[Source: Lourdes Medrano, Daily Star] -- The Oro Valley community task force charged with creating a development plan for the historic Steam Pump Ranch wrapped up its work last week. The town wants to restore the ranch for public viewing and use. The group's final plan now goes before the Historic Preservation Commission meeting on April 14. The group will gather at 5 p.m. in the Oro Valley Town Hall, 11000 N. La CaƱada Drive. After the commission puts its stamp on the plan, it goes to the Town Council for consideration on May 21. The council got an early glimpse of the plan in February, when some members expressed concerns about the potential cost. The property includes roughly 11 structures, including the original ranch house.

If the council approves the project, the public could have access to the site about eight months later, said Corky Poster of Poster Frost Associates Inc. As a town-hired consultant, Poster worked for months alongside the task force on a Steam Pump Ranch master plan. The task force recommended that the town initially focus on the project's first phase, which would cost about $5 million. Full restoration previously was estimated at $8.4 million. The final plan scaled back some of the amenities in the build-out, Poster said. "We have a smaller-scale equestrian center and a smaller-scale event center, for example." The changes mean new costs, Poster said, but the task force did not tackle the new estimates. Any work done after the opening phase will need additional study and funding, Poster emphasized. "The main thing is that it restores the historic buildings," Sarah More, the town's planning and zoning director, said of the task force's final recommendation. The initial phase includes restoration work and displays about the two eras in which the ranch figured prominently. "There are so many buildings there, we can't use them all," said Dick Eggerding, a task-force member. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]