Town awarded $500,000 for park
Members of the Camp Verde Town Council, the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Trails Committee and the Camp Verde Fire Department gathered Saturday at the airstrip. Council member Bob Kovakovich, who was among those who walked the property, later remarked, "It’s going to be a great park site."
In February, the previous Camp Verde Council voted unanimously in a motion made by the town’s current mayor, Mitch Dickinson, to pursue the application. The state established Heritage Funds for the acquisition of lands and development of outdoor recreational facilities for public use. Under the approved grant, Camp Verde is responsible for $510,078 in matching funds in actual dollars and pledged in-kind donations.
Lee has been a strong advocate and promoter of the park over the past several years. The idea, though, was actually born about 1990, formalized in 1995 by the Parks and Recreation Commission with community input and accepted into the adopted General Plan in 1998, confirmed Acting Town Manager/Finance Director Dane Bullard.
In December of 1997, one month following Lee’s arrival, he said the town submitted a proposal to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to acquire land under the Town Site Act for property commonly known as the old airstrip site. The 223-acre property is located in East Camp Verde off Arizona 260 near the Swap Meet.
The focus then went across the street to other USFS land but eventually landed back at the airstrip site.
"Being in the field I am, it was obvious to me when I came to Camp Verde with its population and all the surrounding acreage that there was a need for some additional recreational facilities. This acquisition should provide parkland now and far into the future for this community," Lee said.
In May 2001, the town instituted a local sales tax for four years for a full 1-percent with 40 percent dedicated strictly to parks. Although there was some discussion along the way by a former council member(s) that it might be necessary to tap into some of those local sales tax funds to balance the maintenance-and-operation budget, it never happened, confirmed Bullard.
"We’re averaged about $20,000-$22,000 per month into the parks fund. It’s currently in its third year," he said. "Over the years, we’ve spent some for improvements to Butler and Sunnyside Parks. The park fund has a current balance of $442,000."
There is also under $200 collected from donation canisters seen around town, according to Bullard.
Lee said they have three years to expend the funds from the actual award dated anticipated to be January 2004. There are many steps to acquire the land through the USFS including an environmental analysis, advertising in the newspaper and an appraisal.
During preliminary work, the town used an assumed fair market value of $5,000 per acre based on estimates provided by the USFS. Lee said if the appraisal comes in higher than the money allocated, they have the ability to scale down the acreage but cannot add to it.
The first phase will be the construction of soccer/football fields four-plex for multi-use, parking lots, picnic areas and restroom facilities on 40 acres.
PHOTO: FUTURE PARK CV (SEVERAL PEOPLE NEAR VEHICLES)