Tucson city council facing race, class controversy over bus depot

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It's just what the Tucson City Council doesn't need, more controversy.

The latest dust-up comes over where the Greyhound Bus terminal will be moved from it's current temporary location along Interstate 10.

The city needs to sell the land where the current depot sits off of I-10 to deal with their $51 million budget hole.

But businesses like Maynard's Market Say it'll cripple business while Social activists are saying this its not about business, it's about social justice.

"This issue is not at all about people.  It's about the highest and best use of the property," said Maynard's Market and Kitchen owner Richard Oseran.  "It's about congestion. It's about having a downtown that works as opposed to one that doesn't work."

Oseran says bringing the Greyhound Bus depot back to eastern edge of downtown would be a disaster.

"It's an interstate bus line, it should be adjacent to an interstate, on the edge of downtown with easy access in and out.  Keep congestion out of the core," said Oseran.

He says its all about congestion, but social activists say it's a bigger issue.

"There's race and class issues in here," said Brian Flagg of Casa Maria.

Flagg says business owners equate a Greyhound Bus depot with crime, poverty and diverse demographics.  And it's not hard to notice.

"You could go to happy hour at Maynard's and at the same time go to rush our at the Ronstadt Center and see what it looks like," said Flagg.

Richard Oseran denies any notion of race as a motivating factor.

"Absolutely not," said Oseran.  "That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard."

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich says most concerns she's heard about deal with crime and congestion.

"If we address the concerns and people are still advocating to push bus riders out of downtown, then I think we have to ask why."

For now, the bigger question before council is what to do with Greyhound to make sure more money isn't wasted.

"We need to figure out if the plans we've already invested, including architectural plans, can be applied to a different site so that taxpayers aren't losing millions of dollars," said Councilwoman Uhlich.

The city's spent millions on these plans already and they want to make sure that money won't go to waste with whatever they decide.  That's something they'll be watching pretty carefully.

Both business owners and activists expect to be out in full force at Tuesday's council meeting.