CFSD Early Childhood Center – Block 24 12/15/06 Update

CFSD Early Childhood Center – Block 24

Information and Perspective

Update 1 – December 15, 2006

In an effort to keep the various La Paloma neighborhood association members up to date with current events surrounding the development of the CFSD Early Childhood Center, the La Paloma Property Owners Association (LPPOA) Board of Directors will periodically publish updates on this subject. This is the first official communication.

For up-to-the minute information, please visit the LPPOA web site:

http://www.LPHOA.net

First, the new facility will be located on Block 24 - the 10 acre tri-angular piece of land that bounds Sunrise, Skyline and Campo Abierto (by the west gate). Ground was officially broken on October 24, 2006.

As best we can tell at the moment, the land is owned by CFSD, but will be operated as a private “Early Childhood Center” (pre-school) under Community Schools. This will make it possible for parents of children from age 2 ½ to 5 to be able to purchase pre-school childcare at this facility. In effect, anyone in the Tucson metropolitan area who can afford to pay the tuition can apply to enroll their children in this $4,000,000 pre-school center, construction of which will be financed by a bond issue approved and to be repaid by the residents and taxpayers of the Catalina Foothills School District.

Based on information provided by CFSD, there are plans for three phases of development starting with a 12,000 sf. facility to house 120 students and about 25 faculty and staff. This facility will replace the current Valley View pre-school which will be razed in favor of a parking lot at the Catalina Foothills High School.

As the future phases of the pre-school are brought online, the student population will increase to as many as 200 with about 50 faculty and staff. In a drawing provided by CFSD there are 54 parking places with ingress/egress on Sunrise, 2 areas of ingress/egress on Skyline (one in a future phase) and ingress/egress on Campo Abierto immediately south of the west gate to La Paloma.

A traffic study was performed for CFSD by Rick Engineering, although the study only contemplated the 1st phase level (120 students) of activity. This traffic study, moreover, overlooked several additional critical issues. For example, Campo Abierto is the only entrance and exit permitted to La Paloma for tradesmen, contractors and delivery trucks that provide services to residents of La Paloma. It is the primary access for UPS, Federal Express and US Postal Service vehicles. It is the ONLY access for large trucks and emergency vehicles and School buses also use this entrance and exit. This is due to the low overhang at the Via Palomita gate.

Based on association records, an average of 90 to 100 non-resident vehicles are logged in between the hours of 6 AM and 10:00 AM every day of the week at the Campo Abierto/West Gate entrance. Most of these are commercial vehicles that must stop to be manually recorded and many times have to wait until the homeowner can be contacted to approve access. This can take some time. Added to that are the vehicles of residents who continually arrive and leave La Paloma by the West Gate at higher than normal volumes during that time of day.

In short, Campo Abierto is a very busy short roadway even today. The School District’s plan to use Campo Abierto as the primary entrance and exit to the Center will easily double the volume of traffic on this small roadway even when the Center serves 120 students, plus faculty and staff. This would create a traffic nightmare. Matters would get even worse when the Center is expanded to serve 200 students.

Second, we have many senior citizens living in La Paloma. Unfortunately, at times, emergency vehicles need to use Campo Abierto, a two-lane roadway with no shoulders. Traffic congestion on this roadway at any time of the day could delay emergency vehicles. And, as you know, a delay of even a few minutes could mean the difference between life and death.

It is interesting to note that in other published accounts (a recent Desert Leaf article by David Hatfield), CFSD states only Skyline and Sunrise are currently contemplated for access yet their construction Superintendent states they will knock down 50’ of wall and take the property “down to grade” (invading Common area A) in the next 2 weeks. In that light it is even more interesting that the September 26, 2006 CFSD Board Regular Meeting Minutes state the $3.9M cost does not include the Campo Abierto access OR the loop to the north of the campus AND that the current plans do not show access to the property on Campo Abierto, BUT drawings provided by CFSD do! Further, notes indicate Pima County wants the primary access to be Campo Abierto since there is a traffic signal at Campo Abierto and Sunrise. There seems to be a lot of mis-information being distributed by CFSD.

Pima County officials state that since the Early Childhood Development Center is being funded by a voter approved bond issues, the CFSD does not have to file a development plan. So, it is hard to say exactly what they have planned. LPPOA is exploring this further and being bounced from one County official to another.

Can they do this? It appears almost the entire wall along the west corridor between Campo Abierto and Block 24 is on CFSD property. So, yes, they can take the wall. Access to Common Area A is a different story. As they say “Membership has its privileges”. CFSD and Block 24 are not members.

Can we stop this? Your Board is unanimous in our conviction that we have a fiduciary responsibility to strongly challenge an unlawful "taking" of our private property without fair and reasonable compensation. Especially when that "taking" would increase the safety risks to our members and residents, not to mention the liability LPPOA has with the ownership of the private road.

There is apparent disagreement about the Campo Abierto access for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is LPPOA believes the CFSD proposal would create safety issues for young kids, working mothers, the hard-working teachers as well as our own members and residents who actually pay for all of Common area A. CFSD contends they have access yet they have no requirement to pay dues. There are other issues as well depending on how things play out, including the private road liability issue. Things simply don’t add up.

LPPOA has retained the law firm of Stubbs & Schubart, P.C. to represent us in this matter. We are hopeful of coming up with an amicable resolution to the dispute. If we are unable to resolve this amicably, the LPPOA Board of Directors has authorized our attorneys to file an appropriate legal action. The firm of DeConcini, McDonald, Yetwin & Lacy represent the school district.

Several letters have gone back and forth between the lawyers and we believe it is time for a meaningful and honest face-to-face meeting between the parties. We are hopeful this will happen soon, though the current “rumor-mill” suggests Pima County is now actively involved in a discussion to condemn all of Campo Abierto to Skyline and re-engineer the whole road despite anyone’s good intentions.

In our opinion, this would cost the County a huge amount of money that could be used for more productive purposes within Pima County. Your tax dollars at work once again.

The fact is, in the Master Plan, the designated land use for block 24 was residential. It was never defined for any dual or other purpose. It was to be residential. Why is it such a surprise that the vehicular access does not work for a school? Why do you suppose we have other issues? The answer is the Land Use design for a school is not the same as the Land Use design for Residential.

Does LPPOA have an objection to the pre-school? Absolutely no issue with the school, but we do have issue with the access on our private road. It’s like saying to your neighbor; hey I like your driveway better than mine, so I’m just going to use yours instead. Have a nice day!!

Background

In 1994, Pima County condemned Block 24. CFSD paid the Murphey Investment Trust for the land and paid the LPPOA to condemn the CCR’s associated with the property. In layman’s terms: Block 24 was no longer a member parcel under the Master CCR’s and not entitled to any of the benefits of membership and CFSD no longer paid any membership dues. Block 24 was to be used as a school site.

Under the Stipulated Judgment, and through and arrangement with Pima County, Block 24 was granted an access easement from Skyline Drive and Skyline Drive only. This means their only ingress/egress for vehicular access was from/to Skyline Drive. There remains questions as to the Sunrise access as this was not addressed in the Stipulated Judgment. As Terry Downey, Asst. Superintendent explained to Andy Genor, LPPOA President, under the 1994 judgment, “got the County out of the access picture.” Clearly there seems to be yet another discrepancy. It appears CFSD has now engaged the County back into the access picture.

LPPOA also granted a pedestrian access easement to the property. The spot to be designated by LPPOA north or south of the west gate. The reasoning behind the pedestrian access is that an elementary school was envisioned and it was felt by the parties that children from La Paloma might wish to walk to school. This provided a safe haven for that purpose. Of course in pre-school situation, this would not be necessary.

In the CFSD attorney letter of December 6, CFSD seems to acknowledge there is a safety issue and provides yet more documentation from Rick Engineering about the placement of a “speed hump” on the southbound lane of Campo Abierto. We are told this is recommended by the District’s engineer. Complete engineering details are provided suitable for construction. One would have to surmise that since there was no funding approved for the Campo Abierto question (based on documented statements by Terry Downey on 9/26/06 at the CFSD Regular School Board meeting) that Rick Engineering must have provided these detailed specifications out of the goodness of their heart.

And finally, it was agreed that once the Stipulated Judgment was filed, that the CFSD would file a no access easement along the east side of their property (Block 24). Despite written agreement, this never occurred. CFSD and only CFSD could have filed this as the owner of the property. CFSD now maintains they have access to Campo Abierto as a result of their failure to file the agreed upon no-access easement. LPPOA has three attorneys prepared to swear under oath of the real facts as regards this access easement.

Document & Meeting Chronology

March 16, 2006 – letter from Terry Downey (CFSD) to Don Pope (c/o Cadden Community Management) requesting an LPPOA point of contact.

April 24, 2006 – letter from Cadden informing CFSD that Andy Genor would be the point of contact as the new LPPOA President and that all correspondence comes to Cadden.

April 27, 2006 – letter from Terry Downey (CFSD) re: exploring ingress and egress to the site. They wish to discuss using Campo Abierto. And requesting a meeting to discuss same.

July 18, 2006 – letter from Terry Downey (CFSD) confirming attendance at the September 19th (now 26th) LPPOA Board meeting along with a memo from the County with their comments on the use of Campo Abierto.

September 26, 2006 – LPPOA Board Master Board meeting. CFSD in attendance to present plans for the Early Childhood Center.

October 2, 2006 – letter from Terry Downey (CFSD) that included a short version of their traffic study. (Full study provided later on request).

October 13, 2006 – letter from Joan Marrs, Catalina Foothills Community Schools (CFCS) inviting LPPOA Board to attend ground breaking ceremony.

November 6, 2006 – Master Board President meets with Asst. Superintendent Terry Downey, and Basil Callimanis, Director of CFSD facilities. CFSD delivers message: we have access to Campo Abierto, we don’t care about any of your issues, and here is our lawyer’s legal opinion letter (10/26/06) *.

November 20, 2006 – Letter from LPPOA attorney to CFSD attorney *

December 6, 2006 – Letter from CFSD attorney to LPPOA attorney *

December 8, 2006 – alleged Board of Supervisors “site visit” to north of west gate to discuss “taking the road”

December 13, 2006 – Letter from LPPOA attorney to CFSD attorney *

December 15, 2006 – LPPOA Information Document released.

* The issues raised in the lawyer’s letters are complicated legal issues and for that reason, we choose not to delve into details for the moment.