Citizen Staff Writer
There was much excitement when the Tucson City Council OK’d plans this week for a new arena as part of the Tucson Convention Center.
The arena and the resulting expansion and renovation of TCC meeting and exhibit space will be a bust if there aren’t nearby places for conventioneers and other visitors to stay.
That may come, with two hotel proposals in the offing. The city is moving forward with one proposal, but that shouldn’t preclude consideration of the other.
The first is a massive expansion for Hotel Arizona at West Congress Street and South Granada Avenue.
Its owners propose renovation, turning 307 existing rooms into 246 larger ones. They plan to build a 30-story tower – Tucson’s tallest building – with another 466 rooms, making it the largest hotel in the area.
Hilton would run the hotel, and the city would own it, paying for the expansion with tax-exempt bonds.
Revenue from the hotel would pay off the bonds and help pay for the arena. The hotel’s current owners would receive a development fee and build an office building and adjacent garage.
As for the second hotel proposal, city officials should open talks with businessman Allan Norville on some semblance of Norville’s arena-hotel plan.
After all, he owns 4 prime acres in the heart of the development area, and there’s a need for more than one high-quality hotel downtown.
That all would be a needed boost for downtown.
‘Reasonable distance’ defined
A voter-approved smoking ban, which goes into effect May 1, was vague in one key area.
The measure banned smoking in bars, restaurants and other businesses. Smoking was allowed outside at a “reasonable distance” from entrances.
But what is “reasonable”? That decision fell to the Arizona Department of Health Services. And this week, director Will Humble had the answer: 20 feet.
The number was not taken from thin air. Humble looked at research that showed smoke migrated 20 feet, but not much farther.
That’s a reasonable accommodation, based on science. It should be something all can accept.
Don’t take break-in lightly
Burglary and vandalism are serious crimes. But we hope that’s all that is behind two recent break-ins at the Islamic Center of Tucson.
The center, near the University of Arizona, was targeted most recently last weekend. The office was ransacked and someone used a marker to write “Bush was here” on a computer monitor.
Two months ago, thieves broke in and stole $1,000.
Officials of the center wonder if the latest incident was a hate crime. We hope not. But if there is any indication that is the case, police must take such incidents even more seriously. We don’t need that kind of despicable behavior in our community.
Border security vs. astronomy
Border security is crucial – but it can’t come at the expense of astronomy in southern Arizona.
Stadium-style lighting, radar and radio repeaters all may be used to help tighten the Arizona-Mexico border. But that could degrade the work of visual and radio telescopes on southern Arizona mountains.
Astronomers must be consulted as the border is hardened, and their concerns must be considered when border-security projects are planned.
The facts on climate change
Four University of Arizona professors used their expertise to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to rule this week against the Environmental Protection Agency in a global warming case.
UA ecologist Scott Saleska brought together the group to write a brief detailing clear evidence of climate change.
UA professors involved were Jonathan T. Overpeck and Joellen L. Russell, both in geosciences, and Kirsten H. Engel, law.