Commentary: Clarkdale - Looking back on 2016 and ahead to 2017

Gayle Mabery

Gayle Mabery

Clarkdale wrapped up some long-planned projects in 2016 and initiated others that will continue into 2017. The following is a list of the most notable.

In 2015, Clarkdale learned that Freeport Minerals Corporation (FMC) would undertake the United Verde Soil Program (UVSP) as part of a voluntary remediation program to address historical air emissions from the former United Verde Smelter that was suspected of depositing metal-bearing particles on nearby soil. FMC began contacting property owners and testing soil in Clarkdale in 2016. By the end of November, over 70% of eligible property owners had agreed to participate in the soil testing program, and over 80% of the results that have been received have shown arsenic and/or lead levels that exceed target cleanup standards.

2017 will see soil testing on remaining eligible properties and the start of the remediation phase. During remediation, property owners who are eligible and agree to participate will have their soil replaced and landscaping restored. In addition to the residential properties in the program, public properties at the Clarkdale-Jerome School and those owned by the Town of Clarkdale (parks, community spaces, alleys and other public right-of-ways) are included in the program. After analyzing the results of data collected in the initial study area, FMI is also expected to make recommendations on whether or not the soil testing study area needs to be expanded in 2017.

The refinance of the 10-year old bonds that were issued to fund the acquisition of the Town’s water utility allowed Clarkdale to separate its financing of that project away from the City of Cottonwood at an interest rate that allowed for the inclusion of new capital funds to pay for the replacement of the water lines in Upper Clarkdale. The refinance wrapped up in the spring of 2016, and construction on the water line replacement began in August. With completion anticipated by July, 2017, the critical replacement of approximately 15,000 linear feet of 100+ year-old water lines will reduce service outages in the area, minimize discolored water issues, reduce water loss through system leaks and improve fire protection in the area.

On the economic development front, Clarkdale coordinated with its business community on two important projects this year. The first led to the installation of the first phase of wayfinding signs to help visitors find their way to Historic Downtown Clarkdale. The second phase of signage is anticipated in 2017. In November, the Town and its business partners launched a new website for residents and visitors who want to learn more about things to do, places to eat, lodging and special events. www.ExperienceClarkdale.com is a go to source for all things fun in Clarkdale!

Clarkdale voters wrapped up their votes on municipal issues in the August, 2016 Primary Election when they re-elected Doug Von Gausig to the Mayor’s seat and Richard Dehnert and Scott Buckley for additional terms on the Town Council. Mr. Dehnert was reappointed to the Vice Mayor’s position at the December 13, 2016 Council meeting. Importantly, voters also supported the approval of a Permanent Base Adjustment, which adjusted the formula originally established by the State of Arizona in 1980 that is used to set the annual expenditure limitation for the Town. With voter approval, the Town will no longer have the expense and risk of placing the Home Rule Option on the ballot every 4 years and allows the Town Council to continue to develop budgets for Clarkdale that are based on expected income and necessary expenses. will reduce service outages, minimize discolored water issues, reduce water loss through system leaks, and improve fire protection in the area.

The remodeling of the Clark Memorial Clubhouse Auditorium provided a handicap accessible entrance and bathrooms in the historic building which has served as a center for community activities since its construction in 1927. A CDBG grant provided the funds for the project, which had been in the planning stages for four years. The renovation celebration was held on October 19, 2016, to coincide with the 89th anniversary of the building’s dedication.

Gayle Mabery is the Clarkdale Town Manager.

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