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Activist gets downtown award

Lillian Lopez-Grant gets tip of hat from Mayor Walkup



Lillian Lopez-Grant’s 24/7 drive to speak her mind about her downtown neighborhood did not scare away Mayor Bob Walkup, who’s honoring the West Side activist today with his “Heart of Downtown” award.

Lopez-Grant got another award last week: The University of Arizona dropped the Rainbow Bridge idea, which she feistily fought.

She is never far from anything concerning her Menlo Park neighborhood, where she is treasurer of the neighborhood association and president of the West Side Coalition, a gathering of several neighborhoods.

“Lillian has been an advocate for downtown for decades,” Walkup said in a news release. “She remembers how downtown used to be and at the same time she embraces the downtown of the future.”

Lopez-Grant has lived in the same Menlo Park house since 1945. Now a full-time activist, Lopez-Grant in the past worked for U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe and U.S. Sen. John McCain.

Though a bulldog willing to challenge nearly any proposal, Lopez-Grant likes how Rio Nuevo redevelopment projects are unfolding in her neighborhood.

“I think Rio Nuevo is moving along just great,” she said in a release. “I’m very, very interested in (Tucson Origins Heritage Park), the museums and the science center; they’re very important to our children. We’re also very pleased with the Mercado District of Menlo Park (housing project).”

Walkup has given the “Heart of Downtown” honor three times a year since November 2002, each time to a veritable downtown champion.

Other recipients include Suzana Dávila, owner of Café Poca Cosa; the Rollings family, which restored several historic Barrio Viejo homes; Mary Lou Focht, co-owner of Old Town Artisans; Albert Elias, owner of Old Pueblo Printers; artist David Aguirre; University of Arizona professor and El Presidio Neighborhood resident Christopher Carroll; downtown businessman Johnny Gibson; Carlotta Flores, chief operating officer at El Charro Café; Herb Stratford, executive director of the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation; and Richard Oseran, owner of Hotel Congress.

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