COTTONWOOD -- It doesn't sound like an earth-shaking story from the outside and city officials will be disappointed. But, Cottonwood's Dog Park made the most headlines for the city this year. It's not the dog owners that are complaining, but the park's immediate neighbor across the ditch and through the Cottonwood trees. By the end of the year, Jeanice Allen was talking about filing a lawsuit against the city for the dog and human noise, and the smell of animal waste.
The city hopes that a six-foot tall earth berm between the properties will dampen the noise for Allen and end the debate.
If nothing else, the dog park pushed the debate over a wastewater treatment facility at Riverfront Park to the back burner. In June, the city scrubbed its plans for a design-build construction of the small satellite plant, and agreed to use the ongoing engineering and hire a contractor in Phase 2.
One of the most anticipated construction projects for Cottonwood took off in May. BluCor Construction was hired to rebuild West Mingus Avenue, extending the three-lane corridor, south from Willard to SR89A where historic Clemenceau mining era homes once stood and then build a roundabout. Despite all the public grousing that the roundabout would be a hazard to school children, it opened without a peep and, traffic flow is now smoother than the earlier four-way stop.
Cottonwood, its Old Town Association and economic development arm won back-to-back applause for the work in grooming the wine industry marketing in which the city buzzes.
The City of Cottonwood received the Innovative Economic Development Award during the Arizona Excellence in Economic Development awards for its five-year economic development strategy with an emphasis on the Arizona wine industry.
In July, Cottonwood won a Cooperative Marketing award for its Taste of Historic Old Town Cottonwood as part of the Governor's Tourism Awards.
In a related note, the Verde Valley was named among Lonely Planet's popular travel publications as one of the Top-10 U.S tourist destinations. The city was also named a bicycle friendly city. Expect a boom year from all those travelers in 2013.
It took years for Old Town Cottonwood to fade as the city development marched east, but it only took a recession to rebuild the historic down town. The area has given Cottonwood a new identity and new reason to stop and shop.
The city was poised to grow to the east even further with the promise of annexation of the Verde Santa Fe communities. Although a group of supporters campaigned early in the year, their enthusiasm waned when absentee owners failed to respond with petition signatures. In the end, circulators could only produce 193 signatures, a 40 percent showing. They needed over 51 percent of owners and property value.
As the year closed, the city was continuing to look a new space to house its offices. Sprawling among 13 buildings, Cottonwood has long lacked a focused center of government. It appeared at the end of the year that the city was in deep negotiations for the Nackard property along Main Street in exchange for city buildings in Old Town, after losing a bid to the Verde Valley Medical Center for the Rough Cuts complex near Riverfront Park.
A couple leaders were lost to city government. Former council member Duane Kirby died in March at age 82. A businessman and public servant, Kirby had operated KVIO radio station before it became KVRD. Kirby served as a Yavapai County Supervisor and Director of the Camp Verde Sanitary District and had operated a Colorado RV park before running for the Cottonwood Council.
Mike Casson hung up his Fire Chief's helmet also in March after 17 years as Cottonwood's Chief and 32 years in fire service. He was inducted into the Arizona Fire Hall of Fame in 2011.
This is a correction of the comments Jeanice Allen delivered to the Cottonwood council recently as they authorized a sound dampening berm between the Cottonwood Dog Park and her home at the end of 8th Street.
"Why can't you move the park to the soccer field just (east) of the dog park. No one lives near it. It has grass and fencing, why can't your staff, whoever they are, find something cheap (or is that your plan.)"
It had been reported she urged the park to be moved to the Black Hills area, where alternatives had been discussed.