On Cottonwood's Main Street stands the Old Town Jail that leads to the scenic Jail Trail through the towering cool cottonwood stands along the Verde River.
The tourist attraction at north end of the proud revival of the historic Old Town District also harbors a fenced yard that contains a half-acre of junk also known as Gardner's Recycling.
The four combined Gardner properties that partially front Main Street and span East Yavapai Street just off Main have been the eyesore of Old Town for a more than two decades.
Now the City of Cottonwood is moving to convert what many call an unsightly blight into the fresh bloom of a gentrifying Old Town.
City officials have discussed among themselves a possible attempt to acquire the land from owner Tim Gardner. Now it looks like that discussion is being converted to action.
Before its regular council meeting Tuesday evening, the council convened in a closed door session to "consider its position and instruct its representatives regarding negotiations for the purchase, sale or lease" of the land.
City Manager Doug Bartosh says the timing is good. The city and businesses in the area want the land cleaned up and Gardner himself is running out of land and needs more space.
Cottonwood has talked with Gardner through his attorney, Rudy Stadleman. Gardner is interested in acquiring land near Hayfield Draw in Camp Verde.
It would not be the first Old Town property the city has beautified. The city has used ADOT transportation enhancement grants to improve the streetscape in Old Town with street lights, park benches and trash receptacles. Cottonwood just completed the demolition of a 1600-square-foot derelict store front at 12 E. Pinal St.. That land is intended to supplement the parking in Old Town.
No financial details have been considered yet, but Bartosh says the city is also considering applying for a grant to help in the purchase or lease or the Gardner property.
The manager says the first thing that needs to be considered is the environmental liability and the city will contract for an environmental assessment to determine what is under that pile of recycled materials and if it is a hazard.
It is unlikely the city would build public structures on the land, but it may clean it up and hold it for resale later, bringing the property into more traditional commercial nature.