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Both UA, Rincon Heights Have Best Interests at Heart

I read "Distrust Thy Neighbor" (Currents, June 3) and felt saddened as to what has happened between the Rincon Heights Neighborhood Association (RHNA) and the University of Arizona.

As the former president of Rincon Heights Neighborhood Association (from 1996 to 1999) and a former member of the Campus Community Relations Committee from 1996 to 2003, I have witnessed many of the disagreements between the university and its neighbors. I also have studied the memorandum of understanding (MOU) and have a pretty decent grasp of it and its history.

Let us look at how the MOU has succeeded. The RHNA has benefited, because the agreement saved 72 residences and ended the concerns of many residents near the boundary. Before the MOU was signed, real estate agents were calling homeowners and trying to buy the fearful owners' homes at bargain rates. The agents knew that once the boundary was settled, the home prices would increase or decrease, depending on which side of the boundary the home was located.

The MOU says that the UA would help find grants to stabilize and improve the neighborhood. And the MOU defined the footprints of future development so the neighborhood could have some idea what the skyline would look like.

The UA benefited from the MOU, because it defined a boundary for expansion that the UA could count upon for its needs. The UA was seen in a good light; while it gave up some territory, it gained the respect of the neighborhoods and the outer community.

The MOU is an agreement, but not an exacting contract. Because "perfect" was the enemy of the good, not all of the terms could be exacted, such as the transitional uses of property after homes were leveled. As there was no agreement on the transitional parking-lot question during negotiations, the answer was to set up a mediation system for disagreements.

Meanwhile, the idea of a low wall is contrary to the idea of a soft boundary that was agreed upon while planning the footprint of the structures noted in the back of the MOU.

The UA has helped the neighborhood. The former frat house behind the Circle K that eventually became a parking lot was going to be a materials yard, with manure, dirt, sand and other materials, but then-UA President Peter Likins decided not to put the materials yard there. Also, the UA got rid of the recycling yard that used to be just east of the UA Rec Center, replaced the liquid chlorine at the Rec Center swimming pool, took down concertina wire that was on top of a small storage lot it has on Highland Avenue, and has had staffers work with the neighborhood. The UA has tried to mitigate some of the effects of the football games by having fraternities and sororities clean up trash as a community-service project.

The RHNA and the UA are both affected by the economic depression we are experiencing, as well as the general anti-intellectual and anti-education philosophy of the state's ruling Republican majority. Had education been funded in the same proportion as it was in 1996, when the MOU was signed, there would be momentum to the process. Instead, there is nearly glacial progress. The time between the leveling of a residence and the building of a structure is now decades instead of months.

I know there are good people on both sides of the disagreement. I know that each has the best interest in their hearts. I know that the future will be bright for both.

Matthew Somers


The Government Has the Technology to Seal the Border

This is for Ed Quillen (Guest Commentary, June 3) and boycotting rock bands out there that haven't read Arizona's new immigration law, but continue to complain about it.

This new law practically mirrors federal immigration laws that have been on the books for decades now. Do you really believe the law of the land would be racist? If so, why aren't you picketing the White House? Quillen says, "Make all Arizonans produce papers." They already do: Anytime I am pulled over, I am required to show my driver's license to verify my status as a legal driver in the state of Arizona. Everyone, regardless of citizenship or race, is required to show some kind of identification if pulled over by law enforcement.

Arizona is being conquered by what appears to be nothing less than the entire impoverished population of Mexico. Our state is not equipped to unlawfully absorb so many unskilled and uneducated people. The fact is, I'd still feel the same way even if all these illegal aliens were my own Irish brethren. Why? Because they'd be stealing American jobs! And why does the pro-open-border crowd never discuss the fact that when it comes to legal immigration, America is the most generous country on the face of the Earth?

Realistically, most of us have resigned ourselves to never removing all of the millions of illegal aliens in this country today. Mainly because, as my grandpappy used to say, they're "dug in like ticks on a hound." But sealing our border is another matter. This must be done yesterday. Forget all this "10-foot fence means an 11-foot ladder" stuff. If our government can seal off Area 51 so tight that even a gnat can't get in, we can absolutely seal our own border.

I see two distinct cultures emerging in this country: American and illegal immigrant. And just like the majority of Americans, I don't like what I see.

Bill Cottle


Correction

Due to a typo, in "Round 'Em Up" (The Skinny, June 10), we reported that congressional candidate Jesse Kelly wanted to adjust immigration policies to allow more immigrants to enter the country illegally. Of course, Kelly actually supports adjusting the system for legal immigration. We apologize for the mistake.

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