Parker to take on Rio Nuevo
Arizona Summer Wildcat
Associate VP tackles the monstrous project
On November 2, Tucson voters approved one of the largest undertakings in city history, the Rio Nuevo Project.
At a cost of nearly $350 million, the Rio Nuevo Project is expected to revitalize and rejuvenate a downtown city center that has longed for new life.
Now, seven months after its approval, the project has added a new ally in the form of Julius Parker, University of Arizona associate vice president for business affairs and administrative services.
Named to the Citizen Advisory Committee last week, Parker is expected to take his 10 years of experience with management skills in the UA administration and 33 years of experience in the Army to this enormous project.
"My skills lie in bringing people with ideas together," Parker said.
Parker knows a few things about making operations a success. He has served as commander of Fort Huachuca Army base in Sierra Vista and has been in charge of budgets in excess of $1 billion.
According to Rio Nuevo project manager John Updike, the Citizen Advisory Committee, which includes Parker and 20 other members of the community, will serve as a "soundboard" for what Tucsonans are saying about the proposal.
"They will serve to advise the City Council on issues that come about for Rio Nuevo," Updike said. "They are the link between the full community and the (Rio Nuevo project) board."
He added that the committee will be working on the master plan for the proposal through next spring and will look closely at project details.
"(Rio Nuevo) should have a major impact on this city for many, many years to come," Parker said.
He said this project could finally put Tucson on the map.
"It will make or break Tucson," he said.
Not only will he be a voice for the citizens of Tucson, but he will also represent the views of local African-Americans and the UA, Parker said.
His main priority while serving on the committee will be to ensure that the project is in line with what Tucsonans consider important - aesthetics, architecture and non-expansiveness.
Parker's appointment to the committee will complement the university's involvement in the project, Updike said.
"The university is already playing an active role in the project," he said.
A UA College of Architecture design studio recently became part of the team working on the master plans, and the Flandrau Science Center will close upon the completion of a more ambitious science center downtown.
The journey will be a long one for Parker and his fellow committee members since Rio Nuevo is expected to take 10 years to complete. Parker's first meeting since being named to the committee is next week.
The challenge commences July 6.