By J. Ferguson
Arizona Daily Wildcat
One month after the UA and the West University Neighborhood Association ceased negotiations concerning the fates of seven homes along East Sixth Street, the two parties will resume talks Nov. 14.
For the families living in three of those houses, this new dialogue gives them hope that their threatened homes may be spared.
Bruce Wright, UA's director of economic development, said the university wants to demolish the houses to make room for a flat surface parking lot. The UA already owns four of those houses and wants to use its eminent domain action to seize and condemn the other three to build the planned parking lot.
Eminent domain action, if approved by the Arizona Board of Regents, would allow the UA to destroy the homes because their presence threatens a crucial university project.
Wright said the parking lot is considered crucial by the university because the Environmental and Natural Resources Building under construction on the corner of North Park Avenue and East Sixth Street displaced an existing parking lot.
At a meeting Thursday, WUNA rejected the university's latest proposal, which still calls for the destruction of the homes on the 800 block of East Sixth Street.
All three families live on that block.
In the proposal, the UA said it will rehabilitate the homes on the 900 block of Sixth Street. The homes have been left vacant for several years.
The university also is asking the City of Tucson to close Tyndall Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Street and give the university the right of way to use it as a parking lot.
John Patterson, a WUNA member, said the UA would gain more parking spaces from closing Tyndall than it would through the demolition of homes.
"If anything, this proposal is actually worse than the last as far as we are concerned," Patterson said.
Wright said he is optimistic that the two parties will be able to find common ground.
"It (the proposal) is basically a compromise between the two plans," Wright said.
Despite the fact that the proposal still calls for the destruction of houses, Patterson said he hopes the negotiations will bring the two parties closer to a deal which saves the threatened homes.
"We are very anxious to put this matter to rest, to get together and negotiate a deal," he said, "a deal that saves the homes of the people who want to continue to live there."
WUNA and two other local neighborhood associations will meet with university officials Nov. 14 to discuss the homes and other university expansion plans.
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