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Fantasy Island Update August 2019

8 Aug 2019 10:00 PM | Deleted user

Fantasy Island Update, August 2019. PLEASE READ!

Hopefully you all have seen our posts and updates over the last few years about the Mattamy Homes/Saguaro Trails development and the Tucson Water/SHARP recharge project.  Anyone who rides Fantasy Island knows that major changes have been happening, and more are coming.  To see the original 2006 Master Plan and get the historical perspective, GO HERE

Several months ago representatives from SDMB, TORCA, and SAMBA were contacted by Council Member Shirley Scott’s Office and local attorney Keri Sylan (on behalf of the Arizona State Land Department, or AZSLD) to meet and discuss the future of Fantasy Island.  In short, most of the land that Fantasy Island currently occupies is owned by the AZSLD and has no permanent protection.  We have known for years that some of the land would be sold and developed, and the 2006 Master Plan represented a monumental community effort to preserve as much of the trails as possible.  Fast forward to 2019, and the AZSLD is preparing to sell 2,500 acres of land in the Houghton/Valencia area which includes much of Fantasy Island.  To the best of our understanding, originally the AZSLD had no intention of honoring the 2006 Master Plan or preserving any of the trails (which they had no legal obligation to do) and the City of Tucson was able to negotiate the current arrangement. 

We acknowledge that the loss of any trails, especially ones as important as Fantasy Island, is tragic and the sale and eventual development will impact many riders.  The SDMB board truly believes that the 2006 Master Plan and the proposed preservation arrangement is the best offer on the table and that continued negotiation/advocacy will not bring any additional benefit.  We will continue to advocate for preservation of as much of the original trail system as possible, and will work to minimize overall loss of mileage.

The good news:

  • Most of the trails that were slated for preservation in the 2006 Master Plan will be preserved and managed as open space by the City of Tucson.  These include most of Lone Cactus, Bo’s/Burros, and Christmas Tree.  The exception is a 300-foot corridor that will run north/south along the DMAFB fenceline which will be held for a possible Harrison Rd. extension.
  • The preserved trails will become system trails managed by City of Tucson.  We will be able to maintain them and hope to make substantial improvements, including signage and potential features.
  • There is the potential to develop additional mileage of trails within the preserved area, reducing the overall loss of mileage.
  • At this point, the City’s position is that the trails should remain MTB-specific and directional, allowing riders to continue to ride at speed and not worry about user conflict.
  • Any development is several years out (not including current development by Mattamy and Tucson Water).
  • The City of Tucson already owns land in the area.  See the map at the bottom of the post.

The bad news:

  • Development is coming to the area, and there isn’t really any way to stop it.  Arizona State Land Trust lands are not public lands like Pima County or National Forest Lands, and are specifically slated for sale.
  • The southern part of the trail system will be sold and developed.  This includes Bunny Loop, Snake Dance, and Bunny’s Revenge.  There is still potential to negotiate with the eventual developer for preservation of existing trail corridors or development of new ones, but we won’t know anything until the land goes up for auction and a developer purchases it.
  • Houses will be built very close to the trails in some spots, resulting in potential conflict with neighbors.

What you can do:

  • Attend the public meeting on Tuesday, August 20th at 6:00 PM.  Meeting will be held at the Santa Rita High School Auditorium, 3951 S. Pantano Rd.  Learn more about the long-term plans and how you can help. GO HERE TO READ THE MEETING NOTICE
  • Contact your City Council member and let them know how important Fantasy Island is to you.
  • Support Tucson's advocacy organizations!  SDMB, TORCA, and SAMBA all work tirelessly to advocate for trails and mountain bike access.  Our members are our biggest asset, and too few riders actually step up and provide financial support.
  • Stay tuned for more details.



Atterbury Trails PCD and Fantasy Island

The Arizona State Land Department (“State Land Department”) is working with the City of Tucson (“City”) to rezone approximately 2500 acres of State Trust Land (“Trust Land”) along Houghton Road to the Atterbury Trails Planned Community Development (“PCD”).  See attached map for boundary of the PCD.   The PCD is a zoning entitlement that allows flexibility in location of uses and overall master-planning of very large acreages within the Houghton Area Master Plan (“HAMP”) that will be developed over a 20-40-year time horizon. 

The State Land Department is Trustee of over 9 million acres of land throughout the State of Arizona that it manages for 13 specific beneficiaries, primarily the State education system.  State Land’s role is to ensure that all trust lands are held, leased, and/or sold to maximize the financial return for those beneficiaries.  This Trust Land is part of the 7800 acres of State Land within the HAMP boundary.

As part of the PCD process, the State Land Department has reviewed the Fantasy Island Master Plan and, in working with City staff, the Ward IV office and Fantasy Island stakeholders, State Land is proposing to formalize the portion of Fantasy Island near Irvington Road as Open Space/City Park (over 200 acres of land) pursuant to the attached map.  The PCD would acknowledge this area as Open Space with the Fantasy Island park and mountain bike trails in a similar regulatory manner as the Saguaro Trails PAD.  The City and State Land will be working through a separate process for the City to either own, lease or otherwise obtain a permit to use this area of the PCD for Fantasy Island.  This treatment in the PCD brings forward the vision in the Fantasy Island Master Plan and solidifies the rights for Fantasy Island users in this area of the PCD for generations to come.  Fantasy Island stakeholders acknowledge that this means there will need to be some re-routing of trails on the western edge of the Open Space per the PCD map to permit a 300-foot buffer and option for a Harrison Road connection into the future.  In addition, the Fantasy Island Trails south of the Mattamy development and City Water site will be removed once those areas are ready to be auctioned by the State Land Department to an end-user.  Fantasy Island and the City will continue to work with the State Land Department and the end-users to provide appropriate connectivity from new homes/development to the bicycle trails balanced with protection of those trails into the future. 


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