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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : editorials May 24, 2016

10/22/2012 1:07:00 PM
Editorial: Land swap for new city hall deserves close look

In the late 1980s, former Cottonwood City Councilman Mike Gardner said it was time for the city to build a new City Hall.

City staff, he said, was working in cramped quarters.

Back then, Gardner touted city-owned land along 6th Street as the ideal spot for a centrally located new city hall for Cottonwood. That’s the same area where today we have a library, recreation center, police and fire departments.

Obviously, Gardner was not convincing enough about the need for a new city hall, but he was spot on with his vision for the land along 6th Street.

Today, we’re seeing another push for a new city hall. This time, the impetus is to create more retail space in the boom town otherwise known as Old Town. Businessman Joe Nackard has proposed to exchange 10 acres between 5th and 7th Streets, opposite Hog Wild Barbecue, for four municipal buildings and land in Old Town. The city-owned property he has his eye on include the current city hall, council chambers, clerk’s office and the finance building. He wants to convert those properties into more retail businesses for Old Town.

We’ll see if this is the proverbial win-win for the city and Nackard, but one thing is for sure. Just as it was back in the day when Mike Gardner served on the City Council, Cottonwood still needs a new city hall. Cottonwood’s present City Hall is hardly representative of a centralized administrative center for the city government. In fact, City Hall departments are spread out over 13 different properties in the community.

That’s hardly convenient for the public. When someone goes to City Hall to take care of city business, or to ask for help on some issue, it’s just lousy customer service when they’re told they can’t be helped. They have go elsewhere. And when elsewhere involves 13 different city properties, are the folks at City Hall even sure themselves where to properly direct people?

When it takes 13 different properties to properly house all the employees and functions of city government, that’s a sure sign that Cottonwood has outlived the usefulness of its present City Hall.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012
Article comment by: What would 'Cottonwood Should' suggest? .

In the interest of being constructive... what else should the city be doing? Before folks jump on what they are or are not doing lets look at the list of what is being done.

1-Open public meetings on most Tuesday nights. Paratransit provided upon request.
2-Frequent public meetings and chat sessions at the Rec. Center.
3-Council emails and direct phone lines available on the city website.
4-The city website.
5-A city facebook page.
6-Open city offices
7-council meetings are taped and replayed on local cable channels as well as youtube.
8-various our city interviews on cable and youtube.
9-news letters in direct mailed water/sewer bills.

please feel free to offer any additional options... perhaps a city person will read this and be inspired?

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012
Article comment by: Cottonwood should reach out and listen

Citizens being hounded by council has never been and no doubt would ever be an issue in Cottonwood.

Except for rare cases, the town is notorious for apathy. Voter turnouts, attendance at meetings, etc., are the normally very low. For better or for worse, that's the reality.

The reverse is the real problem. Rarely does the council reach out proactively to find out what its citizens think.

Which is what "question not for editor" is saying: "You come to me in my house at the time I say and speak in the manner I prescribe ... or don't complain about what I do".

But the council's job is to represent the people. They can't do this effectively if they don't know what the people think. And not just some of the people, all the people. Their job is to determine consensus, then represent that in their decision-making.

The council really could do a much better job of reaching out to its citizens and making it easy for them to express their views in an open, collaborative, non-threatening way.

That's one way to get better local government.

Posted: Friday, October 26, 2012
Article comment by: nutso fasst

How much cash is Joe Nackard offering to even the deal? Seems the city's parcels and structures in a thriving commercial area are worth far more than the vacant lot.

Looking just at tax-assessed value, the 5 acres of city property with buildings is $883,440. The 10.4 acre empty lot is $351,300.

Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Article comment by: To...To? .

seems there could be a happy medium betwixt your assertion that elected folks should be hounding citizens for their thoughts and the way you portray them as 'kicked back' do-nothings.

seems it's all or nothing?

maybe they should be given beds of nails to sit on at meetings in order to atone for their lack of motivation?

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Article comment by: To

All too often we see lazy councilpersons elected who just want to kick back, let staff do all the work, and say to the people "if you have any input you come to me at my meetings and if you don't you have no right to complain about my decisions."

Which is basically what "question not for the editor" is saying.

Sorry, you've got this the other way 'round. If that's the way you think, you're part of the problem, not the solution.

Someone who gets elected to the council is elected to represent the people.

An elected councilperson's job is to get out there in the public, take the initiative to meet with people by attending meetings other than council meetings, get the true pulse of the community, and yes, follow the general plan, which sets forth the consensus view of all the people.

By trying to blame others or put the onus on the public for their decisions, elected officials just aren't doing the job they were elected to do.

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Article comment by: David Perrell

The costs involved should not ignore the need to widen Main Street from 8th Street to the parking entrance. Lack of a left turn lane could create a dangerous traffic back-up where two westbound lanes now converge.

Widening is also an issue if Reynold Radoccia's 'Gateway Green' housing/commercial development is built between 7th and 8th Streets. And if this swap does take place, planning and development of City Hall should be coordinated with Gateway Green.

Posted: Monday, October 22, 2012
Article comment by: the question is not for the editor... .

it should be to the citizens... if the citizens don't take an active role in their govt. then how can you blame the gov't for it's decisions not being per the citizens?

if the council chambers were packed every meeting with folks there for reasons other than NIMBY complaints or budgetary nit picking... then maybe folks could complain...

until then it seems that you get out of it what you put into it.

of nobody shows or even contacts the city staff or council.. then who are the ones not supporting the city?

Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Article comment by: Does the Editor Support Constitutional City Governance...

...Or doe the Editor know its ok to tax a
decreasing population so that the governing
class can go ahead and feather their beds...
and don't give a hoot of the constitutional limits
of government and constitutional rights of the

Thanks, just questioning.

Posted: Sunday, October 21, 2012
Article comment by: Keep it in Old Town

The current decentralized system works for me. For my business with the city, I know where to go. Learn it one time and you're good. It's not a problem for me.

But this is nevertheless a convincing argument. I have no problem with some centralization, but I also have no problem with the current system either.

If the City decides to centralize, my only input is this: Keep city hall in or at least near Old Town. That's the true heart of Cottonwood.

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