08 Oct The Battle Over Old Tucson: The county and two of its wealthiest residents keep fighting--with no end in sight.
County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry was among the select group invited to Don Diamond's ritzy 75th birthday bash at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in early March.
At the party, guests were treated as if they were on a cruise, where admission was gained through "boarding pass" invitations. Guests ate as they could nowhere else in Tucson while being entertained by a band flown in from New York. The party was so lavish that its cost easily could have covered the $124,410 that Old Tucson--run by a company controlled by Diamond and Donald Pitt, buddies from their days at the University of Arizona--owes in back rent and late charges.
(After the 1995 fire) Rather than rebuild the soundstage, the famous and important Kansas Street shooting area, the old mission and other critical features used in movies for decades, Diamond and Pitt chose consultants' designs, trading the movie-making history--Old Tucson was created by Columbia Pictures for the 1939 movie Arizona--for a $14.95-per-adult tourist trap.
OLD TUCSON'S HEYDAY was as a movie studio. Yet, Diamond, Pitt and others cling to the hope that it can have a successful future as a water park.
Yes, a water park.