As Rio Nuevo fights to maintain its state funding, it also is waging an internal battle to decide what it wants to be.
When the Rio Nuevo District was approved by voters a decade ago, it promised historic and cultural features on the west side of Interstate 10.
But the museums and re-created historical structures have been placed on hold. Instead, the limited money is being used first to improve the Tucson Convention Center and to build a 25-story convention hotel.
There is a good reason for the change in emphasis. Building the hotel first will increase the revenue base in the Rio Nuevo District.
That means additional money in future years for the cultural and historic features that are essential but won’t bring in as much revenue.
The Legislature has seized on this thinking and proposed that the state mandate that tax-increment financing money be used only for TCC and the hotel.
That is a decision that should be made locally – by members of the Rio Nuevo board. The state shouldn’t be in the business of micromanaging local development moves.
But the group Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace is campaigning to ensure that the cultural and historic features not be delayed indefinitely.
The Rio Nuevo board should publicly commit to building them as soon as fiscally possible.