Tue, July 23

Status of Peck's Lake still unknown<br><i>Popular recreation area will remain closed for now</i>

Staff photos by Philip Wright

Peck's Lake, a popular recreation area leased from Phelps Dodge by the Town of Clarkdale, was closed Jan. 1, after the lease expired. Clarkdale and Phelps Dodge both say they are interested in working out another lease that will allow the area to be reopened.

The company wanted to make certain no one misunderstood its intention: Peck's Lake really is closed.

Operated as a recreation area by the Town of Clarkdale since about 1966, the popular fishing, walking and picnicking area is now closed off from public access as tightly as the company's old mine entrances outside of Jerome. It has the look of a place that no one intends to reopen anytime soon, if ever.

Joyce Driscoll, Clarkdale town clerk, said the town has leased the property since 1966 without any significant change in the language or the conditions of the lease. The most recent lease expired Dec. 31, 2003.

Driscoll said the town chose to take a look at the lease agreement and decided to give notice. "It needed to be looked at and updated," she said.

"Now, we've wanted to negotiate a new lease," Driscoll said. "But there are obstacles to that."

"We totally recognize that for the region, it's a valuable open-space area," she said. "But right now, we don't have a contact with Phelps Dodge."

The Phelps Dodge employee who the Town of Clarkdale had been talking with has either been promoted or moved, according to Driscoll.

Even so, Driscoll said she believes that Phelps Dodge would like to have the lake and surrounding area open for recreation. "Their intention, as we understand it, is that they want it open," she said. "And we want it open."

Ken Vaughn, of the Phelps Dodge Media Group, agreed with Driscoll. "We remain open to having Peck's Lake open to recreation," he said. But he said a city or town or some other such entity must manage the property and be responsible for it.

Vaughn said he wasn't aware that Clarkdale was without a contact person. "We'll touch base to make sure they have someone to contact," he said.