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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Rio Nuevo planning on hold until city approves funding

    Tucson Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, left, President Robert Shelton and Flandrau Science Center Executive Director Alexis Faust speak about the Rio Nuevo project with Gloria Moroyoqui, a Yaqui medicine woman and the designer of the paper flower decorations at the UA Rio Nuevo Event yesterday morning. The event featured representatives from several of the organizations involved speaking about their plans for the downtown Tucson project.
    Tucson Councilwoman Nina Trasoff, left, President Robert Shelton and Flandrau Science Center Executive Director Alexis Faust speak about the Rio Nuevo project with Gloria Moroyoqui, a Yaqui medicine woman and the designer of the paper flower decorations at the UA Rio Nuevo Event yesterday morning. The event featured representatives from several of the organizations involved speaking about their plans for the downtown Tucson project.

    Funding will be a primary hurdle for the Rio Nuevo project, university officials said yesterday at the Downtown Destinations Festival held to preview and discuss the future of the plan to expand downtown Tucson.

    The UA will move the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium and establish the UA Science Center on the new site, and the Arizona State Museum and Arizona Historical Society will also expand downtown.

    But there are no specific architectural or budgetary plans for any of the organizations that will be located at the site yet, said Beth Grindell, associate director of the Arizona State Museum.

    “”Funding will be an issue for all of us,”” Grindell said.

    President Robert Shelton spoke at the event with optimism. He said the university’s involvement in the Rio Nuevo project will not only benefit the UA, but will produce quality jobs and unify the city.

    “”We’re here to demonstrate the partnership between the university and the city of Tucson,”” Shelton said.

    Shelton also emphasized the history of the location and its significance and said the goal of the project is to take it “”from landfill to a landmark status.””

    Tucson City Councilwoman Nina Trasoff said the project’s location also holds significance.

    “”Bricks used in University of Arizona buildings were made right here,”” Trasoff said in her speech.

    She attributed much of the progress of the Rio Nuevo project to a new City Council that is focused on the community.

    The project, which has been on the drawing board for about a decade, will be voted on by the City Council in December.

    The Science Center, originally planned to be located near the aborted $350 million Rainbow Bridge, displayed previews of many of the proposed exhibits that could possibly be included in the center, said Rob Vugteveen, director of marketing for the UA Science Center.

    The exhibits included demonstrations from the Physics Factory – a nonprofit organization comprising UA professors and teachers from Pima Community College and local high schools – and the UA geosciences and physics departments, as well as an inflatable planetarium brought in by the Flandrau Science Center.

    Grindell said she anticipates a new building for the Arizona State Museum that will be around 80,000 square feet but, like the Science Center, the museum must await City Council vote in December before developing a plan for the building.

    “”There’s still lots of players at work here,”” Vugteveen said.

    Elva Flores, director of Mexican cultural preservation group El Centro Cultural de las Americas, said the group will be involved in the planning and design of the Rio Nuevo plaza.

    “”We, as Mexican-Americans, are proud of the project,”” Flores said.

    Flores is one of the many participants involved in designing the layout of the buildings and landscape who hopes to keep the historical roots of the area in mind while continuing with the development of Rio Nuevo.

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