Thursday, December 15, 2011

Gateway to Tucson

During the December 13, Mayor and Council, Councilmember Richard Fimbres had placed the "Gateway to Tucson" Agenda Item for discussion by the Mayor and Council.  This was not reported in the Arizona Daily Star.

Saying visitors to Tucson get an immediate bad impression, in part because of scraggly medians, a collection of businesses aims to raise private dollars to make a better first impression. With about a half-dozen sponsoring entities signed on, the Tucson Metro Chamber is accepting private donations to spruce up landscaping in medians by Tucson International Airport.

The chamber estimates the six medians directly leading from the airport on Tucson Boulevard to Valencia Road would cost about $50,000 each to clear and grade, update irrigation lines, and plant new trees and shrubs.

"The recurring theme I hear from business people and citizens is that our gateway from the airport is just horrible," said Richard Underwood, the owner of AAA Landscape, who has agreed to do the project at cost. Calling the gateway "embarrassing," he added there's a running joke that companies fly recruits in after dark so they won't see the medians. Underwood said the designs are dated, the plants shabby and the decomposed granite faded. He's envisioning a lush desert environment with big ironwood trees, saguaros, lighting and possibly art. "You've got only one chance to make a first impression," he said.

Councilmember Fimbres thanked Underwood and AAA Landscaping, Bill Holmes of the Tucson Chamber of Commerce, Fletcher McCusker of Providence Corporation, and the other businesses who are helping with this private-public process.  He added that this was a great first step to help with some of the medians along this route and others, during these tough, economic times.

The City of Tucson, Tucson Clean and Beautiful, as well the City Department of Transportation have been assisting the Chamber in this effort.

Fimbres also said that he had been in contact with Sunnyside Unified School District, Pima County, and Los Artes to help in the effort.

Pima Federal Credit Union has also expressed interest in this effort.

For more information about this project, call the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, 792-1212 or go online to

If a business or individuals want to donate, make checks payable to: Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, 465 W. St. Mary's, Tucson, AZ 85701.  Put in the note: First Impressions Project.